Thursday, July 12, 2012

Brasserie de l'Abbaye du Val Dieu Grand Cru

Type: Quadrupel
Origin: Aubel, Belgium
Price: $11.59/750 ml
ABV: 10.5% 
NSP: 6.49
website (no specific Grand Cru site)

I had a glass of this at the Beagle a couple of weeks ago and decided that I liked it enough to go after a bottle. Remember when I said that I'd love a root-beery quad?  This was the closest thing that I've had to that so far.  It's from an abbey in Belgium that has had its church destroyed four times- in 1287, 1574, 1683, and during the French Revolution.  What's the point of destroying an abbey?  Seems to me that it's a bunch of pious dudes hanging out, growing veggies, tending sheep, making cheese, and caring for the tired, poor, huddled masses, and then a bunch of rabblers have to come along and wreck their shit.  Maybe I'm wrong and the Cistercians were a bunch of roughhousers themselves, but if not it seems a bit unnecessary.

But that's long in the past.  The present involves beer (among other things, I'm sure), which is of course where my main interest lies.  The bottle gave me a nice hefty cough (I didn't ask it to turn its head first), and the carb seemed fairly heavy in the pour, at least relative to most quads I've had.  The color looks just like cola (whether in liter form or otherwise) or root beer, dark but not opaque.

The smell is interesting in that it's quite light. There's some Belgian yeast and dark fruitiness, plus a fair bit of sweetness.  And the root beer quality is there, but thinly, at least relative to the draught version.  The flavor follows the nose- it's immediately quite sweet and fruity.  The root beer is also there, but it's more like root beer barrels, the candy, than actual root beer.  It's the least alcohol-soaked-raisin-type quad I've had, which is a nice change of pace- but it also makes it feel like it's straddling the line between a quad and a dark strong ale, if there's even a line there to be straddled in the first place.  Maybe that's why they call it a grand cru, if it's not intended to be a straight quad.  The sweetness kind of cloaks a fairly light body, which also means that the booze factor comes through pretty strong all the way along- it's potent enough to make you recoil if you're not ready for it.  

The bottle seems to be less root-beery than I remember the Beagle offering being, but it's still closer to what I envision than any others I've had, and I like it a lot. And as with most beers of this type, it gets less complex and easier to drink the deeper into the bottle you get, so you can stop worrying about the details and just enjoy it.

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