Okay, back for more Belgian beer reviews. I should take this opportunity to mention a few places which I found over the years which can be counted on to carry some of the beers I’ve been covering. In addition to Vineyards, located in the Byward Market in Ottawa, there is also Pub Italia, located on Preston Street in Ottawa’s “Little Italy”. Third, there’s the Beer Markt, one of the biggest beer halls I’ve seen outside of Germany, located in King West, Toronto. All of these places were quintessential in my beer education, up to a hundred taps and several hundred bottles. For some reason, I have yet to find such a place in BC, but I will try!
In terms of Beer Stores, your larger LCBO’s (in Ontario) are usually a good source. In BC, the BCL usually focuses on beers of the pacific northwest, but Liquor Plus has been known to carry quite a few labels.
St. Martin Blonde: The brewery of Brunehaut, which is responsible for this brew, has a looooong history. Though technically not a Trappist beer, it is nevertheless a traditional Abbey beer, done in the same tradition of making strong, double/triple fermented, and bottle conditioned ales. The blonde ale is one of their flagship beers, and is nice and light. At 7% alc/vol, its certainly no slouch in terms of strength, but the taste is clean, oaky, and with just a touch of honey. The color and nose are consistent with this, being cloudy gold with light aroma of hops and honey. 7.5/10
Duvel: Here is a beer that I’ve sampled many times, but can never really acquire a taste for. Which is surprising given my love for most wheat beers. At 8.5% alc/vol, this beer lives up to its name (Devil), and the taste is certainly consistent. Befitting a traditional Belgian golden ale, it is made with Pilsner malt and white sugar, which is reflected in the taste – being crisp, hoppy, and with a strong finish that is reminiscent of rum. Originally brewed to commemorate the end of WWI, this beer is certainly a fine product, but remains one Belgian I can’t get into! Duvel – good quality, but not a personal favorite. 7/10
Maredsous Brune: Made by the same brewery that produces Duvel (Duvel Moortgat), this beer was a faithful fallback beer during my sampling days. The color, as the name suggests, is dark brown, the taste is tawny, but with a syrupy touch. A good balance of hops, malts and sweetness that Belgian Abbey beers are famous for. I wish I could get my hands on more of their lineup, such as the Blonde, and Tripel. Next visit to Ottawa, I guess! 8/10