Taking a darker turn with Belgian stouts

We've spent the last few weeks sampling Belgian Abbey Ales, a family of beers traditionally brewed by Trappist monasteries. We've sipped single, dubbel, tripel and quadrupel. Yum! Now our exploration of Belgian styles is taking a darker turn: to stout! The stout most of us are familiar with is an Irish dry stout — like Guinness. Belgian stouts couldn't be more different! They typically have almost double the alcohol content (7-8% rather than 3-4%), smaller quantities of hops, and sweeter, fruitier aromas from the unique strains of yeast and higher fermentation temperatures. Without further adieu, let's explore the darker side of Belgium!


Allagash Black
Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle
ABV: 7.5%
Availability: Purchased at 7-11

Tasting Notes: Pours a deep maroon, with a thin, light-brown head. Aroma has banana, clove, cocoa and coffee. The initial flavor prickles with bitter coffee grounds, cocoa nibs and forceful carbonation. There's some softness also — a rounded, gentle sweetness tempers the initial bitter flavor. It's a mellow, honeyed warmth, with a sliver of milk chocolate. The aftertaste is tremendous — more layered and complex than the initial flavor. The bitter cocoa blends with the spicy character of the yeast to produce a combination that's both bitter and sweet, drying and quenching. The body is moderate. It's a bit thick for casual consumption, but I imagine it would compliment a burger well.


Format Sampled: 13.7 oz. capped bottle
ABV: 12.1%
Availability: Purchased at RSVP

Tasting Notes: Pours a deep, brownish black, with a thin brown head. Aroma has maraschino cherry, brandy, chocolate liqueur, and nose-clearing alcohol. The initial flavor is like the event horizon of a black hole spreading across my palate, drawing me deeper. Tasting consultant Chelsea says, “Black Hole? Jesus. More like black out and bury me in a hole.” There's a bracing espresso bitterness, refined and slightly sweet, like the crema on top of a ristretto shot of lightly roasted coffee. Soaring notes of fruit esters, plum brandy, kirsch, and pear float above the notes of cocoa and chocolate. The aftertaste has refined liquor, gourmet chocolate, and single-origin coffee. This is a treat to enjoy in moderation during the contemplation of particle physics.


De La Senne Stouterik
Format Sampled: 11.2 oz. capped bottle

ABV: 4.5%

Availability: Purchased at RSVP

Tasting Notes: Pours a jet black with a gargantuan puff of tan head. Aroma is fresh, with a piquant lactic acidity. Initial flavor is delectably dry, shot through with notes of bitter cocoa powder, and a faintly sweet undertone of prune. It's as if someone added a dusting of fine cocoa to a dry Irish stout. It's rich without sweetness, complex without confusion, and sweet without stickiness. The Stouterik stands in contrast to the much heavier stouts I sampled earlier.


Last modified onTuesday, 23 May 2017 15:31