Despite an elocution lesson from Andrew Pattinson I still can't pronounce Hertog Jan properly. It's AB-InBev's upmarket ale brand in the Netherlands, and I've generally approved of the other beers in the range I've tried. I had completely forgotten about the bottle of their Grand Prestige Mrs Beer Nut brought back from our last trip to the Netherlands. More importantly, so had she.
Having dug it out of the back of the attic stash, and secured the relevant permission, I opened it recently. The first thing that happened was a foam attack which was fortunately held in check by the beer's viscosity. This is a 10% ABV beer served in a 30cl bottle, so thickness is to be expected. Holding the poured glass up to the light reveals a very dark red beer which is completely clear -- the first sign of the mass production techniques that presumably created it.
I didn't get much of a nose from it at first, but after a few minutes' warming it gives off a heady acetone vapour, like pear drops. It's not in the taste, though. Here it's all damsons and raspberries, the sort of fruitiness that gives no indication of the prodigious strength. And while the texture is thick, it's not soupy or syrupy -- it's perfectly drinkable and even has a definite sparkle to it. The flavour finishes with just a small hoppy bite on the end.
What we have here is an fine example of how big brewers are quite capable of making perfectly decent beers if the market demands it. It's no world beater, and you won't find me picking it off a shelf over, say, Westmalle Dubbel, but it's a respectable winter dessert sort of beer of the kind giant transnational corporations tend not to make.
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