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Friday, May 25, 2012

Sebastiaan Golden Ale - Brewerij Starkens


                Woohoo! Obscure Belgian beer in a limited bottle!!   

                When I was in Texas I picked up a bottle of Sebastiaan Golden Ale (Yeast Hoist edition featuring art drawn by Ron Rege Jr.) from BrewerijStarkens  in Meer, Belgium.  I noticed the interesting earthenware crock bottle and a little voice in my head screamed, “You need that!”  I love rare beer, limited packaging and limited editions.  And okay, so Sebastiaan Golden Ale isn’t really rare, in fact it’s a year round tripel, but it was still a pretty awesome find in my book and good Belgian beers can be very hard to find in many states.  Belgian Tripels, like most Belgian beers, are often extremely complex and the style can actually include a wide range of beers.  Typically though, a Belgian Tripel is gold in color, moderately spicy, fruity and at least 7.5% ABV.  Other, more common commercial examples of Belgian Tripels are Unibroque La Fin du Monde, New Belgium Tripel and Victory Golden Monkey.  However, with the increasing popularity of Belgian-style beers in the US, many smaller craft breweries are beginning to brew a wide range of excellent Tripels.  There seems to be some confusion out of ratebeer on whether this is a tripel or a Belgian strong, for more on the official BJCP style guidelines for both a Belgian Tripel and a Belgian Strong see the bottom of this post.

                Very few breweries make a good Belgian beer like the Belgians do, which may be why so many of the new Belgian-style beers are coming from Belgian brew masters or brew masters who have trained in Belgium.  On to the review.

                On Beeradvocate, Sebastiaan Golden Ale has an 85 and an 89 from the bros.  Over at ratebeer it has a 77 overall and a 96 for style and refers to it as a Belgian Strong.  Once again, I think the Beeradvocate score is a much better indicator of this beer in my opinion, although ratebeer hits the mark on the style rating.

                It is surprisingly hard to find any sort of commercial description for Sebastiaan Golden Ale, so let’s just skip on to my tasting notes.

                I say:

                This beer is exquisite!  It pours a beautiful cloudy gold with a pure white head and excellent Belgian lacing.  The aromas out of the bottle are multi-faceted, starting out yeasty and bready before progressing on to citrus fruits and light floral and wildflower honey aromas, followed up by a slight bit of alcohol (betraying its 7.5% ABV).  As it warms, the aromas continue to evolve into maltiness with summer fruits like banana, pear and plum.

It is extremely complex in the aroma and the flavor leaves little to be desired.  It stars out with a light spiciness from the Belgian yeast and slight alcohol notes from the high ABV percentage.  Progressing from the spiciness it becomes sweeter with slight pear and apple notes.  It is moderately bitter through a combination of hop and yeast-produced bitterness.  Sebastiaan Golden Ale finishes with a strong, spicy, and fruity aftertaste.  It is medium bodied with a moderate to highly level of carbonation, which helps to dry the beer out and clear some of the spiciness off the tongue.

This is a wonderfully complex beer with sweet and spicy notes, which meld nicely with the beer’s moderate body and carbonation.  When looking for a Belgian beer, I expect something complex and interesting, Sebastiaan Golden Ale definitely did not disappoint and I am on the lookout for another bottle.  If you can find it near you, pick up a bottle!

                That’s all for today, look down below for BJCP guidelines and check back on Monday for a post on Zee Lander IPA from Toppling Goliath Brewing Company - Decorah, IA found on tap at Three Cellars in Greendale, WI while supplies last (maybe through Saturday if you are lucky)

                Happy Drinking!!!




18C. Belgian Tripel

Aroma: Complex with moderate to significant spiciness, moderate fruity esters and low alcohol and hop aromas. Generous spicy, peppery, sometimes clove-like phenols. Esters are often reminiscent of citrus fruits such as oranges, but may sometimes have a slight banana character. A low yet distinctive spicy, floral, sometimes perfumy hop character is usually found. Alcohols are soft, spicy and low in intensity. No hot alcohol or solventy aromas. The malt character is light. No diacetyl.
Appearance: Deep yellow to deep gold in color. Good clarity. Effervescent. Long-lasting, creamy, rocky, white head resulting in characteristic “Belgian lace” on the glass as it fades.
Flavor: Marriage of spicy, fruity and alcohol flavors supported by a soft malt character. Low to moderate phenols are peppery in character. Esters are reminiscent of citrus fruit such as orange or sometimes lemon. A low to moderate spicy hop character is usually found. Alcohols are soft, spicy, often a bit sweet and low in intensity. Bitterness is typically medium to high from a combination of hop bitterness and yeast-produced phenolics. Substantial carbonation and bitterness lends a dry finish with a moderately bitter aftertaste. No diacetyl.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body, although lighter than the substantial gravity would suggest (thanks to sugar and high carbonation). High alcohol content adds a pleasant creaminess but little to no obvious warming sensation. No hot alcohol or solventy character. Always effervescent. Never astringent.
Overall Impression: Strongly resembles a Strong Golden Ale but slightly darker and somewhat fuller-bodied. Usually has a more rounded malt flavor but should not be sweet.
Comments: High in alcohol but does not taste strongly of alcohol. The best examples are sneaky, not obvious. High carbonation and attenuation helps to bring out the many flavors and to increase the perception of a dry finish. Most Trappist versions have at least 30 IBUs and are very dry. Traditionally bottle-conditioned (“refermented in the bottle”).
History: Originally popularized by the Trappist monastery at Westmalle.
Ingredients: The light color and relatively light body for a beer of this strength are the result of using Pilsner malt and up to 20% white sugar. Noble hops or Styrian Goldings are commonly used. Belgian yeast strains are used – those that produce fruity esters, spicy phenolics and higher alcohols – often aided by slightly warmer fermentation temperatures. Spice additions are generally not traditional, and if used, should not be recognizable as such. Fairly soft water.
Vital Statistics: OG: 1.075 – 1.085
IBUs: 20 – 40 FG: 1.008 – 1.014
SRM: 4.5 – 7 ABV: 7.5 – 9.5%
Commercial Examples: Westmalle Tripel, La Rulles Tripel, St. Bernardus Tripel, Chimay Cinq Cents (White), Watou Tripel, Val-Dieu Triple, Affligem Tripel, Grimbergen Tripel, La Trappe Tripel, Witkap Pater Tripel, Corsendonk Abbey Pale Ale, St. Feuillien Tripel, Bink Tripel, Tripel Karmeliet, New Belgium Trippel, Unibroue La Fin du Monde, Dragonmead Final Absolution, Allagash Tripel Reserve, Victory Golden Monkey

18D. Belgian Golden Strong Ale

Aroma: Complex with significant fruity esters, moderate spiciness and low to moderate alcohol and hop aromas. Esters are reminiscent of lighter fruits such as pears, oranges or apples. Moderate spicy, peppery phenols. A low to moderate yet distinctive perfumy, floral hop character is often present. Alcohols are soft, spicy, perfumy and low-to-moderate in intensity. No hot alcohol or solventy aromas. The malt character is light. No diacetyl.
Appearance: Yellow to medium gold in color. Good clarity. Effervescent. Massive, long-lasting, rocky, often beady, white head resulting in characteristic “Belgian lace” on the glass as it fades.
Flavor: Marriage of fruity, spicy and alcohol flavors supported by a soft malt character. Esters are reminiscent of pears, oranges or apples. Low to moderate phenols are peppery in character. A low to moderate spicy hop character is often present. Alcohols are soft, spicy, often a bit sweet and are low-to-moderate in intensity. Bitterness is typically medium to high from a combination of hop bitterness and yeast-produced phenolics. Substantial carbonation and bitterness leads to a dry finish with a low to moderately bitter aftertaste. No diacetyl.
Mouthfeel: Very highly carbonated. Light to medium body, although lighter than the substantial gravity would suggest (thanks to sugar and high carbonation). Smooth but noticeable alcohol warmth. No hot alcohol or solventy character. Always effervescent. Never astringent.
Overall Impression: A golden, complex, effervescent, strong Belgian-style ale.
Comments: Strongly resembles a Tripel, but may be even paler, lighter-bodied and even crisper and drier. The drier finish and lighter body also serves to make the assertive hopping and spiciness more prominent. References to the devil are included in the names of many commercial examples of this style, referring to their potent alcoholic strength and as a tribute to the original example (Duvel). The best examples are complex and delicate. High carbonation helps to bring out the many flavors and to increase the perception of a dry finish. Traditionally bottle-conditioned (“refermented in the bottle”).
History: Originally developed by the Moortgat brewery after WWII as a response to the growing popularity of Pilsner beers.
Ingredients: The light color and relatively light body for a beer of this strength are the result of using Pilsner malt and up to 20% white sugar. Noble hops or Styrian Goldings are commonly used. Belgian yeast strains are used – those that produce fruity esters, spicy phenolics and higher alcohols – often aided by slightly warmer fermentation temperatures. Fairly soft water.
Vital Statistics: OG: 1.070 – 1.095
IBUs: 22 – 35 FG: 1.005 – 1.016
SRM: 3 – 6 ABV: 7.5 – 10.5%
Commercial Examples: Duvel, Russian River Damnation, Hapkin, Lucifer, Brigand, Judas, Delirium Tremens, Dulle Teve, Piraat, Great Divide Hades, Avery Salvation, North Coast Pranqster, Unibroue Eau Benite, AleSmith Horny Devil


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