From a brewery better known for its double-digit barrel-aged imperial stouts I wasn't at all sure what to expect with De Molen's Op & Top, a 4.5% ABV pale ale. To offset my uncertainty, Menno has provided his usual thorough statistical analysis on the label: 22.2 EBC in colour, 30.4 EBUs in bitterness, brewed in October 2010 and bottled a month later. All very interesting, but of course it's impossible to know what any of it really means without pouring and drinking it.
I poured carefully, giving me a clear glass of pale amber beer, but it still had a funky yeasty aroma. The first taste is bitter, with a nasty sort of oxidised staleness to it. It takes a moment for the proper flavour to come out of hiding: orange pith and some milder notes of mandarins and peaches: trying to be light and easy-going but ending up really quite harsh. The base for this is distractingly fizzy too.
You can probably tell I didn't really like it. I'm surprised by the label's recommendation that it'll age well for five years: seven months in the bottle and I got the distinct impression of a beer already past its best, with the high fruit flavours giving way to baseline bitterness. There are some great pale ales in the De Molen range, but this isn't one of them and I think you're much better off keeping to the dark and strong end of the line.