The nights draw in and I start feeling the need for some richer stronger beers. It's perhaps a little early yet to start hitting the imperial stouts, so what else is in the stash?
La Trappe Isid'or looked promising, named in honour of one of Konigshoeven's founding brothers. It pours a hazy shade of amber, giving up echoes of summertime past in its red berry aroma. The flavour starts with the yeast spice typical of this sort of strong Belgian-style ale, but unfortunately stops there too, with no sign of the big malty flavours or any traces of hopping. A bit boring and one-dimensional, this, and I'd be quite miffed if it were produced as a tribute to me.
I had a taste of the same brewery's Bockbier on my last visit to 't Arendsnest and thought the bottled version might be worth a go when I saw it on sale in Deveney's. La Trappe disappoints again, however. It's drier than any Dutch bock ought to be -- almost bitter, in fact -- with just a hint of residual sugar left on the lips. There's none of the floral complexity I found in the kegged version. Indeed the soft carbonation gives it a fuller body and reminds me more of a dubbel than anything else. It's sort-of warming, but not in the way I'd expected. It was time to break out the big guns.
Despite a whopping 8.3% ABV, De Molen Winterbock could actually pass for a lighter beer, so easy to drink is it. A nose full of chocolate and toffee lures you in, thinking that this is the typical sugarbomb one would expect of the style. The flavour starts off, appropriately, with big sticky caramel but widens out to include a liquorice bitterness afterwards and then finishes, amazingly, with a Rodenbach-like woody sourness which clears the palate. I got all the weight and warmth I wanted, but wrapped in a highly complex parcel which was remarkably drinkable, and almost refreshing.
Maybe it's just because they were my first introduction to the style, but in general I have a sneaking appreciation for the bocks from the Netherlands's mega-macro brewers. Where La Trappe is concerned, it looks like I'll need to trade up to their Quadruple to get the mellow warmth I'm after. At least until De Molen products start making an appearance on these shores.
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