The BJCP divides Belgian Strong Ales into dark and golden subcategories, but these two are combined for our beer flight today: Craft Beer Crosscut 1.25.18: A Flight of Belgian Strong. For this reason, the beers in this flight can be anywhere from yellow to dark brown in color. Blond versions tend to be similar to tripels and have a fruity and spicy hop flavor. They tend to be paler, lighter, and drier than their tripel counterparts. Dark versions are similar to Abbey dubbels and are more malt oriented than the blonde versions. They tend to be sweet, often flavored with candied sugar, and have moderate hop flavor. Both versions have a high ABV ranging from about 7.5 to 13 percent.
10.5% ABV, 14 IBU
Last year, Unibroue celebrated its 25th anniversary, offering its US fan base its own take on a classic style, the Belgian golden strong ale. It’s a complex, smooth ale with malty and citrusy flavors, topped with a pale straw head. The subtle balance of spice, malt and hop flavors, combined with a fine, champagne-like effervescence, makes it an awesome beer for celebrations, such as our Lodge Meeting with Unibroue.
8% ABV, 22 IBU
Lune de Miel, first brewed in 2016, is an high ABV Belgian-style amber ale that is chock full of floral notes, spices and a smooth honey character. The beer’s aroma and taste, however leads in with a solid yeasty trait and gentle funk before those flowery and herbal notes join in — amplifying more as the beer warms in the glass. The honey lingers long into the lightly warming and drying finish of the medium bodied ale.
9.2% ABV, 22 IBU
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy, which sits in a large valley close to Rochefort in the province of Namur, in Belgium, is home to a community of Trappist monks (Cistercians of the Strict Observance). The three strong ales produced by the abbey — Rochefort 6, Rochefort 8 and Rochefort 10— can be tasted in the nearby town of Rochefort and all over the world. Rochefort 8 has the most amazing mouthfeel. The dense foam gives way to a pleasant and natural feeling carbonation that is deliciously creamy, and reminiscent of a root beer float. The malt delivers a strong sweetness, followed by yeasty earth tones of oak and vinous quality, then sweet raisin, plum and figs coming through as the focus. Rochefort’s dry finish cuts through the rich flavors, and leaves dark fruit notes on the tongue long after the swallow.
9.2% ABV, 25 IBU
Portland’s Breakside Brewery has tiki on the brain. Its strong golden ale Beachcomber with fresh ginger and Belgian yeast strains ages 11 months in Caribbean rum barrels, developing rich notes of coconut, molasses and burnt sugar. Breakside thought the flavors pointed so clearly toward tiki cocktails that the brewers decided to make a cocktail beer out of it, aging the beer on vanilla bean, toasted almond, a bit of lime zest and everything else but the kitchen sink. Mahalo!
8.5% ABV, 33 IBU
Duvel Moortgat’s Belgian is considered the archetype of the Belgian strong golden ale category. The yeast — the fruity esters, imparts the distinctive characteristics of any Belgian beer and spicy phenols created during fermentation are the major draw for drinkers. Anyone looking for these traits in Duvel will not be disappointed. Duvel is brewed with Pilsner malt and dextrose, and hopped with Saaz and Styrian Golding, the yeast still stems from the original culture of Scottish yeast bought by Albert Moortgat during a business tour of the U.K. just after World War I. The nose is an equal, subtle blend of white pepper, coriander, tangerine peel, and pear juice; the flavor mixes spice rack stuff (coriander, clove, and white pepper) with sweet blasts of pears and apples before a slightly drying, bread-y finish.