10 September 2012

Hélène again

It's another one from Brasserie Sainte-Hélène today, something of a climber in my estimations of Belgian beermakers. Following on from La Grognarde a few weeks ago, this is an inauspicious-looking beer given a name no more elaborate than Barley Wine. The bib on the champagne half-bottle tells us it's 12% ABV, brewed with Brewers Gold and Strisselspalt hops and with a recommended serving temperature that goes all the way up to 16°C.

After a good six weeks solid chilling in the kitchen fridge this still had about 3cm of sediment glooping about in the bottom of the bottle. Thankfully, unlike many other bottle-conditioned Belgians, popping the cap didn't result in the muck being spread throughout the liquid by overenthusiastic fizz. The carbonation here is low and the beer is nicely viscous.

Getting to the drinking bit, I found a marvellously round and warming beer with dark honey flavours, laced by black cherry and sweet plums: all putting me in mind of heady oloroso sherry, or Harvery's Bristol Cream, if your tastes run that way. Even when the yeasty dregs are poured in, the flavour is strong enough to be untroubled by them. It still has a certain Belgian quality, however, carrying fruit and spice characteristics of both dubbel and tripel.

This is a great fireside beer for the coming winter, the only thing that would give me pause is the hassle of pouring after a long and tiring day. The yeast might not disturb the taste, but I do prefer not to have to strain big gobbets through my teeth when I drink. Big bottles or a little filtration would be appreciated, Brasserie Sainte-Hélène.


  1. The Bloody Tan9:42 am

    I know it's 5 years since you reviewed it but I finally caught up with some Watou Wit on draught in The Bierhaus last night and it was exactly as you described and a really excellent beer.
    Together with the ever-consistent Hooker they made for an excellent evening's quaffing.
    I also chanced a Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted on draught but sandwiched between the others it came over rather wishy-washy and watery.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Howdy stranger! Yes, I've never been convinced by keg Bitter & Twisted either. Better from the bottle, I think.