29 May 2008

KOTBR #47 | Yay Belgium

For our latest roundtable, four knights met two friends (Matt and Chris) at the home of Matt (of Matt's Beer Blog fame) for a Belgian Beer Style Blowout. So without further ado, on to the reviews.


So the intent of the latest roundtable with Matt and Chris was to try a variety of Belgian-style beers. By complete accident, all the Belgians we sampled were brewed in America. Unlike the previous roundtable, when we reviewed a selection of Danish brewed beers that were American in style. Going from Europeans-pretending-to-be-Americans to Americans-pretending-to-be-Europeans. Completely accidental, but very poetic nevertheless.

In the spirit of Belgians in America , I will review these beers in the most fabulous of Belgian styles: Smurf

Perdition by Russian River Brewing Co. - This Biere de Garde poured with a light brown color and a light smurfy, sweet smurf. There were hints of toffee and coffee, but a very underwhelming beer, leaving me with not much of anything there but aftertaste. A Peewit of a beer. 2.25 smurfs

Lost Abbey’s Judgment Day - This dark brown beer had smurfed of dark fruit covered in brown sugar. Despite the nice smurf taste, the mouth was left dry after. My final written judgment: smurfy, smurfy smurf time! Dubbel my smurf, so to smurf... 4.0 smurfs

Lost Abbey’s Lost and Found - If you had put this smurf in front of me and I didn’t know it was a quadsmurf, I would have smurfed that it was fresh apple cider from looks alone. It had an extra smurfy fruit fragrance with more fruit smurfiness than Judgement Day. Makes me think of Smurfette. It leaves my mouth very smurfy. 3.75 smurfs

Brewer’s Art Green Peppercorn Tripel - I didn’t know what to expect from the label, but I must say, I was happily surprised by this smurf. The nose was all over the smurfin’ place. But not peppery. It looked like a wheat beer with a big pilsner head. The smurfiest smurfin’ beer I’ve ever seen! It looked like a Snork party in a glass! The flavor matched up with the nose, but in addition, it left a peppery bite on the back of the smurf. La la la la la la, la la la la la! 3.65 smurfs

Southampton Grand Cru - Holy smurf! Super sour smurf! It smells like a Gargamel’s taint; or like after Azrael sprays all over the smurfin’ place. It pours cloudy and dark gold. The taste is a bit tart but also has some carmely, buttersmurffy hits, creating a smurfy flavor that doesn’t match up with the nose at all. No smurfing way! 1.5 smurfs

Unibroue Terrible - I don’t know if any other smurfs will get this, but it smells like a Unibroue beer. Lots of dark fruit and plum. Alcoholly and smurfy. But of the Unibroue beers, I find this Belgian Hefty Smurf Dark Ale to be the smurf. 3.55 smurfs

Three Floyd’s Alpha Kong - This beer is the Papa Smurf of Belgian Hefty Smurf Pale Ales. The nose is smurffy and alcoholly, giving thoughts of Laffy Taffy or Big League Chew. The flavor is also smurffy and chewy. Lots of smurf. It is smurfy and thick. A take your smurf away kind of beer. 4.25 smurfs

Barley Island Sinister Minister - Smurfed down version of Unibroue beer. It may be as sinister as Gargamel, but it is about as successful as his attempt to snack on Smurfs. 2.00 smurfs


In honor of Belgium's World Champion and all around bad-ass bicyclist, Tom Boonen, and his 16 year old girlfriend, Sophie Van Vliet, I present 16 word reviews.

Russian River Perdition - Sweat tea color. Sharp nose. Tight front, light, sour on sides of the tongue. All mouthfeel. 2.74 Mugs

Lost Abbey Judgement Day - Nail polish nose, heavy almost syrupy mouthfeel, full of caramel and grape. Grape plus cough syrup. 3.11 Mugs

Lost Abbey Lost and Found - Lighter nose. Sweet candi sugar and grape notes. Nice bubbly front, light but not lingering mouthfeel. 3.24 Mugs

Brewer's Art Green Peppercorn Tripel - Banana / pepper nose, super-lively mouthfeel, top of mouth taste. Banana plus vanilla custard? Tart or bitter? 4.41 Mugs

Southampton Grand Cru - Funky "off" nose, nose carries into front but dissipates quickly, back creamy, tasty, and yet funky. 3.10 Mugs

Unibroue Terrible - Dark milky-ish color, fruity Unibroue nose, balanced, sweet, about what you'd expect from the Unibroue crew. 3.27 Mugs

Three Floyds Alpha Kong - Apple, banana, nail polish nose. Silky mouthfeel. A really great beer from Indiana's Kings of Brewing. 4.78 Mugs

Barley Island Sinister Minister - Malty, inky nose (yes, nose). Watery, malty. Not particularly "Belgian". Subdued. Hard to follow Alpha King. 2.22 Mugs


Russian River's Perdition – Underwhelming. The flavor and nose were just not there in sufficient abundance to make much of an impression. Kind of like the proportion of German speakers in Belgium, less than one percent of the population, yet is still an official language of the country along with Dutch and French, spoken by 60 and 40 percent of Belgians, respectively. 2.2 mugs

Lost Abbey Judgment Day – This one was reddish brown in color. The nose was full of yeast, but the flavors included plum and black bread, which along with salt is a traditional offering to guests in Russia. The Belgian contingent accompanying Napoleon's Grand Armee into Russia (as Belgium had been conquered and annexed by France as part of the First French Republic) in 1812 found no such hospitality, less that 100,000 of the 700,000 strong invasion force made it out of Russia. 3.2 mugs

Lost Abbey Lost & Found
– This was much spicier than its Lost Abbey brother. The mouthfeel was incredibly smooth and the peppery aftertaste lingered for a while. The persistence of this flavor is reminds me of the persistence of plastics in the environment. A Belgian-American named Leo Baekland invented the first commercially viable plastic in 1907, Bakelite. 3.6 mugs

Green Peppercorn Trippel – The nose was a bit footy, which I found somewhat disconcerting. After I got past that though, I detected some banana and I found that it was really a pretty tasty beer. Again, it had a peppery flavor to it and an effervescent mouthfeel. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, not unlike Timecop, which starred Belgian martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme and Ron Silver who is not Belgian. 4.1 mugs

Southampton Grand Cru
– I said to my self, "I can't wait to drink this one" when I caught a whiff of the dirty laundry coming off the rim of the glass. The mouthfeel and taste can best be described as sticky and sickly respectively. The stomach lurch brought to my mind images from Belgian anatomist Andreas Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica. Vesalius was among the first anatomists to contradict the models of Galen and Aristotle. His method of suspending cadavers from a rope to allow him to move them around to see their anatomical structures, and his willingness to examine human remains meant that physicians and surgeon barbers had a more accurate understanding of how things work. 2.0 mugs

Unibroue Terrible – The banana nose and flavor of sweet roasted grain made this a very agreeable beverage. Also agreeable to the small "d" democrat in me is the regrettably brief historical period of the United States of Belgium, which only lasted from January to December of 1790. This effort to modernize the legal and political system came to an end when King Leopold II succeeded his brother Joseph II whose epitaph reads, "Here lies Joseph II, who failed in all he undertook". 3.81 mugs

Three Floyds Alpha Kong
– This beer is a full on assault against sobriety and sanity, a dangerous juggernaut of a beer. It's really sweet and I simultaneously tasted Creme-Savers, caramel, marshmallows, and probably a dozen other flavors that I missed in the hubbub. The flavor and alcohol are huge on this one. Almost as big as the planet itself. A Belgian cartographer named Gerardus Mercator revolutionized the method of showing large portions of the planet while balancing the distortion you get when you flatten out a curved surface. Mercator's model maintains direction and shape over the size of continents, which increase with the distance from the equator. He also devised a method for creating hollow papier-mâché globes, which brought the price down considerably from the wood or gilded brass spheres that had been available until that time. 4.2 mugs

Sinister Minster
– I got a whiff and taste of wheat toast from this one. It also had a nice quick finish. Julius Caesar called the land currently known as Belgium, Gallia Belgica, as it was a northern province of Gaul inhabited by a tribe known as the Belges. He called the Belges the bravest of the Gauls as they lived the closest to Germania and were far away from the rest of the region. 3.88 mugs

* * * * *

KOTBR final averages:

Perdition by Russian River Brewing Co. - 2.40 Mugs
Lost Abbey’s Judgment Day - 3.43 Mugs
Lost Abbey’s Lost and Found - 3.53 Mugs
Brewer’s Art Green Peppercorn Tripel - 4.05 Mugs
Southampton Grand Cru - 2.20 Mugs
Unibroue Terrible - 3.54 Mugs
Three Floyds Alpha Kong - 4.41 Mugs
Barley Island Sinister Minister - 2.70 Mugs


  1. Gargamel's taint is one the funniest things I've read in a while.

  2. Where did you get these Russian River, Brewer's Art and Lost Abbey beers?!

  3. I got the Lost Abbey beers when a friend went to Seattle. Yay friends who travel!

  4. As I said at our last roundtable, I'm glad that I was too old to watch the Smurfs when it made its way Stateside.

    Yay old people!

  5. Lobbyist Smurf hooked me up with the Brewer's Art during one of his trips to DC to push anti-Gargamel legislation.

  6. "By complete accident, all the Belgians we sampled were brewed in America."

    I thought that may have been the case when I thought about it afterwards. Of course, I'm the lazy bastard that didn't take notes, so I couldn't confirm it!

    And where are the Grand Caw notes? Homebrew not lofty enough to be included in with the commercial brews?! :) At least its super-special duct tape label made it into the lineup shot!

  7. I was going to post a review...and give it 5.5 mugs, the highest rating ever! But then everybody would get jealous and demand that you sell them some. Then excise would bust you for not being license to sell. And then you'd go to jail for 3-5 years. And then who would hook us up with free home brew again? Who I ask? Nobody, that's who.

    So you're welcome!

  8. Thank you for saving me Jason! I hadn't considered the chain reaction that could have taken down WillCo HBC before it really got off the ground!

  9. This might help me get into Belgium beer.. something that is very lacking in my blog.

    Stuff is too sweet!

  10. there's no such thing as too sweet.

  11. What Mike said, Matt. :)

    In addition, Belgian beers are very, very diverse in taste and style. Not all of 'em are sweet. Give them a second chance.

  12. The Belgians, actually, usually brew their beers very dry (sometimes 90+% attenuation):

    A quote from "Brew Like a Monk":

    Attenuation. Belgian brewers talk often about making sure a beer is “digestible.” Laurent Demuynck, a Belgian native who heads Duvel Moortgat USA, wasn’t kidding when he said: “For breakfast, I put Duvel in my waffle batter … Lightens it up.” Duvel or Orval or Rochefort 8 perfectly complement and compliment a Belgian waffle loaded with whipped cream and strawberries. These beers are strong and full of flavor without being cloying. Mashing regimen, sugar, yeast, and fermentation management hold the secret.