24 October 2013


I did my best to look after my bottle of Bronze Age ale in the year or so between getting it and drinking it. There's a glass door in my beer fridge but I made sure the bottle was right at the back. Unfortunately the tell-tale skunkiness was apparent as soon as I drew the cork. Ugh.

It's badged as a "farmhouse ale", a style I wouldn't have thought of as especially hop-forward. This one in particular is from Belgian brewery Hof Ten Dormaal, brewed under the aegis of Stillwater Brewing of Maryland. The long maturation has stuck the yeasty lees firmly to the bottom of the bottle and not even the high carbonation can dislodge it, resulting in a clear golden glassful, stacked high with foam.

A proper sniff of the poured beer and the skunkiness has subsided somewhat. There's the hot sugary spiciness I associate with Duvel in particular, even though this is rather lighter at 6% ABV. The novelty ingredient is raw spelt but I've no idea what that's supposed to add to the flavour. It's a lovely beer, though: there's a big pepper piquancy at its heart, a gunpowder dryness of the sort you sometimes find in lambics. The sweetness comes in the form of a mild red apple flavour, but no real hop character that I can detect.

If it wasn't so damn fizzy it would be really first-rate, but all that carbonation interferes badly with its drinkability. It's a tasty curiosity to be enjoyed slowly on a swirl-and-sip basis.

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