18 April 2013

Talking a good game

Whatever about their products and their prices, it's hard to fault De Dochter van de Korenaar on the self-confidence front. They like to name their beers like they're the best thing out there, and sure why wouldn't you?

For conjuring majestic elegance what better name than Noblesse? This is billed as a blonde but turned out more of an orange-amber shade. It's definitely not in the slightly sticky Belgian blonde category, though at 5.5% ABV it would fit right in here strengthwise. Wheat is listed on the ingredients but it's not a witbier either. Instead it's clean and rather dry: lots of lagery grain notes, tempered by a firm hit of lemon zest and grapefruit pith. And all of this held up remarkably well despite my bottle being indecently almost a year past its best before date.

Can we get even further up ourselves than "Noblesse"? How about Finesse for the full-on lah-di-dah factor? This is a tripel, modestly strong at 8.5% ABV though strangely darker than expected once again. Like all the fanciest-pants De Dochter beers, the bomber-sized bottle comes wrapped in brown paper with a label stapled to it. Hand stapled by craftsmen, I'm sure. Three different grains are in the mix here: wheat, barley and rye and the whole lot is matured on pine resin. Wait, what? "Rijping tesamen met pijnboomhars" it says, and I can't find any sign of that being Flemish idiom for anything else: they appear to have actually bunged some pine in here. It certainly has a big sticky resinous quality: heavy and sugary with every molecule of alcohol coming through in the hot flavour. Fortunately the bitterness holds it all in check, and though not very much like any other Belgian tripel it is quite tasty.

Finally, slap my face with a leather glove and call my horse a knave, it's Bravoure: "for people with guts" challenges the label copy. For people with quick reflexes, thought I, as the beer gushed from the bottle over the table. The residual fizz is considerable, making the whole thing quite prickly and difficult to drink until it settles down. It's an interesting mix of smoked malt and fresh hops, giving off a sort of burnt orange peel aroma while the flavour puts pipesmoke to the fore, set against a mandarin background. An odd contrast but it works rather well, and all in a not-too-heavy 6.5% ABV package.

Despite their airs these are mostly pretty solid beers. Yes, Belgium makes better, and I have my suspicions about the 65cl bottles being possibly a bit of a scam in a country more used to 75s, but outright mistakes are rare in De Dochter beers and not every artisan* Belgian brewery can claim that.

*artisan. adj: of beer, having a simplistically designed and/or wonkily applied label, usu. on poor quality paper stock

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Belgium makes better/// Which are these? Which Belgian beers you've liked more and find better made? In the same artisan category.

    That's very interesting: the division between classic and emergent "artisanal" Belgian beers is what I'm trying to define for myself since starting to drink De Dochter van de Korenaar, De Ranke, Hof Ten Dormaal, etc.