The 75cl bottle is, I think, one of our greatest allies in the campaign to get beer taken seriously (or at least frivolously) as an accompaniment to food. Wine goes with food because it's strong, robustly flavoured and a 75cl bottle allows two people to share flavours in common even if what's on their plates is different. The infinite flexibility of beer means that this niche is completely open to it as well. And though the Italians are playing a fast game of catch-up here, with the Dutch and Americans also making their presence felt, the accomplished masters at big bottles of strong complex beers are the Belgians.
Kasteel Cuvée du Chateau, the subject of this post, isn't even a particularly special example. A dark ale of 11% ABV it suffers a bit from the sherry-like heat I've met in Kasteel beer before. Beyond that you get some nice figgy fruit and a hint of wintery nutmeg spice. Nothing to blow your socks off by itself, but it did pretty well with some minty lamb burgers, though the grease probably could have done with a bit more fizz to cut through it. The beer really came into its own when I turned to the cheese, however. The big sweet boozy flavour matched fantastically well with the earthy funk in my bleu d'Auvergne, improving both beer and cheese in equal, substantial, measure.
The lesson here is that even medicore beer can be put to work in a foodie context, as long as the basic parameters are right. And if you want a really good strong dark Belgian ale, well there are plenty of them out there too.
I Hardcore You - *Origin: UK | Date: 2010 | ABV: 9.5% | On The Beer Nut: September 2010* "A while" is how long I said I would leave my second bottle of I Hardcore You back ...
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