I don’t know how common of a phenomenon this is, but many of my friends have gone abroad for extended periods of time since undergrad. It many ways it sucks, because now a lot of people are far away, you never see them and their brief visits back to Toronto are filled with seeing lots of people. On the upside, there are now people I can room with in a number of foreign locales. And sometimes, when you’re really lucky, a wonderful friend may bring three Christmas beers from Belgium. When that happens, the only appropriate thing to do is having a beer tasting!
The first beer sampled was the Engien Noel Triple Blonde, a straw coloured triple with a strong aroma of apple. Green apple in the taste, giving way to booze. Hints of honey and pine as it warmed up. Very fine carbonation and very dry. A little tart. Not something I would think of as being a Christmas beer, but definitely quaffable. The sweetness may have become too strong over a full bottle, but was fine in the sample.
Next up was a Gouden Carolus Christmas, which was a beautiful reddish-amber – definitely the colour I expected from a Christmas beer. Tastes of raisins soaked in alcohol and toffee. If I were to taste this blind, my guess would be that it is a quad. Some spiciness from the yeast. Very tasty and perfect for the winter, but still missing the extra something to make it taste like Christmas.
Finally, we had the Bush de Noel (Scaldis Noel if you buy it in the States, where nothing can sound or look remotely like Anheuser-Busch). This was very sweet, both on the nose and tongue. Oranges and caramel. Tastes like the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA pulled back. The 12% ABV is hidden nicely. I could easily see myself sipping a bottle of this on a cold night.
While this tasting was based around three Christmas beers, no two were remotely similar, which makes it hard to compare them. The Gouden Carolus was probably closest to what I picture as a Christmas beer, but the Bush de Noel was marginally more of a favourite. But when you’re drinking seasonal Belgian brews on a winter night in Ontario, they all taste great.
Then, because those samples just weren’t enough, I went for a Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel. It may seem like an odd choice, but I wanted something different that I couldn’t compare to the Belgians. World class beer and a perfect example of how Ontario lags behind Quebec brewers.
Today: 650mL. Year-to-date: 42.68L.