Thanks to the good offices of my lovely wife I have a sizeable stash of Belgian winter and Christmas ales knocking around at home. Most of them I think I'll leave in storage until the nights start drawing in again, but I may as well put some sort of a dent in the collection before the clocks change.
So first up is Winterse Heerlijkheid, from Eutropius in West-Flanders. My convoluted efforts to translate the name using my rudimentary Flemish were cut short by Google Translate's abrupt "Winter Glory". Spoilsport. Of course, I was expecting a dark beer and was quite surprised when a hazy blonde poured forth.
That had me immediately preparing the Duvel Comparator Scale to see where abouts on that it fits. It's the same strength (8.5% ABV) and the aroma has the same sort of sweet and juicy fruits: mandarins and a little bit of peach or white plum. On tasting, however, I found it much closer to my memories of La Chouffe and its distinctive white pepper flavour.
The consensus among those sharing the bottle was that there was a big hit of coriander in it, and though I can't say it's something I noticed myself I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't mention it, so there you go. What I did get were some other slightly bitter herbal complexities, reminding me of a gruit ale I made a few years ago using oregano and sage. (Edit: Ha haaa! Follow-up investigations have revealed it is flavoured with sage. Coriander indeed. Tch!)
It's an interesting and refreshing concotion and I think I like it rather more than old Duvel. There's not much by way of alcohol heat in it, however, so if you're looking for a winter warmer this is probably not the best one to go for. I could easily have enjoyed this on the patio some months hence.