Happy January all! Hope you and I share the same New Year resolution in drinking less corporate beer and more craft beer! This month we are featuring one special bottle of beer. A beer from a brewery you might be familiar with; just aged slightly differently. This month I really wanted to showcase a style of beer that was unique. A style that you and I are likely unfamiliar with so that we can both experience this together; having disregarded any bias. We’ve either had or seen Belgian dark ales such as “Rochefort 8”, “Chimay” and Belgian Tripels like “La Fin Du Monde”, “Allagash Tripel” and “St. Bernardus Tripel”. In search of a beer that was special and unusual, I came across a “Dark Tripel” which sounded intriguing to me and worth the exploration. The anticipation and anxiety for something unique yet still a great was washed away with each and every sip.
Brendon Pineda, Beer Aficionado, PlumpJack Wine & Spirits
Brouwerij Van Steenberge ‘Gulden Draak Calvados’
Brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge, Ertvelde, East Flanders, Belgium
A dark Tripel finished in Calvados barrels for 4-6 months
Brouwerij Van Steenberge is a brewery that was established in 1784. This family owned and operated brewery has gone through six generations! The brewery resides in the village of Ertvelde in East Flanders, Belgium. It produces about 40,000 barrels a year; their most recognizable beers being “Piraat” and “Gulden Draak”. Now “Gulden Draak” or “Golden Dragon” is the base beer of our selection. This beer is a dark brown Tripel ale. Most Tripels are gold or deep yellow in color with tastes and aromas of coriander, pepper, sweet malt and fruity notes from the yeast. ‘Gulden Draak’ pours darker than most Tripels. The difference is attributed by the malt and yeast strain used. The beer additionally goes through a secondary fermentation with a wine yeast strain which contributes phenolic characteristics like clove and spice. The secondary fermentation also influences the dryness of the beer. ‘Gulden Draak’ has darker fruit influences met with a subtle caramel sweetness. Now you take this beer, introduce it to a barrel that previously held Calvados (Apple brandy from France) and out comes a beer with an abundance of flavors. Being that I’ve never had a beer that was aged in Calvados barrels, I had no idea what to expect. There are so many aromas and tastes that occur together in this beer that I’ve never experienced before. ‘Gulden Draak’ was always one of my favorite Belgian beers but the influence that the barrel provided made me appreciate this one of a kind beer that much more.
Hops: Noble hops
Grain Bill: n/a but their website states they use three different malts
ABV: 10.5% Serving
Food Pairings: Dark chocolate, Stew, Red Meat
Appearance: Copper, assertive pour that created a two finger of an off-white head
Aroma: Baked apple, pear, golden raisins
Taste: Creamy texture, more apple and golden raisins, Calvados barrel is not over-powering yet present, baking spices, pastry sweetness, not sweet nor bitter, tea notes, honey, a clean dry finish.