14 January 2016

Offside trapp

It's a fizzy one, is Nivard. This is the third release from Austria's trappist brewery Engelszell. Lots of foam came gushing forth from the bottle and the mouthfeel is almost sharply carbonic, giving the palate a thorough scrub. No style is given on the label, not even an indication as to colour, though it turns out it's a kind of pale amber. We do know that it's 5.5% ABV and, unlike the more typical Belgian trappist beers, is all malt.

And the flavour? There's a definite Belgian vibe: a weighty fruit ester character that's also present in the aroma. A more Germanic breadiness at the centre speaks, perhaps, to its place of origin, and the surprise is some quite English orange blossom floral subtlety. There's a little bit of Belgian spice in the finish but nowhere near as much as you'd find in a decent tripel. The bitterness imparted by the yeast really starts to take hold once it has warmed up a little and lost some of that gas.

Overall it's a good effort: there are lots of interesting flavours here, combining some of the best bits of English bitter, German lager and Belgian ale. I've no idea if that was the intention but it works for me. It's certainly better than the hot mess so many other brewers turn out when they start playing with Belgian yeasts. There's a lot to be said for keeping the sugar out of the kettle and the alcohol levels low. Maybe do something about the carbonation though, eh?

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