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Review by SAP on 05/24/09  
 
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
92 3 11 19 4 9 2009
A solid pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet glass produces a four-finger thick, lightly browned, dark tan colored head. The beer is a dark amber brown, nearing black, color that shows a brilliantly clear, rich ruby hue when held up to the light. The aroma has quite a bit of fruit to it with notes of bright dark plums, rich raisin and some prune notes. Malt aromatics produce notes of toasty browned malt and a nice, rustic bread like quality. Other notes of clove, anise, a Concord grape like spiciness, woody malt, a hint of ginger are noticeable; the Concord grape note is quite distinct, while still being somewhat subtle and really adds an interesting note to the nose. The aroma is quite hearty, though it is dark fruit oriented.

The beer is sweet and spicy upon my first sip; it has a carbonic bite to it that contributes some fizz to the texture. The beer finishes with a bitter, black malt note that lingers on the palate with a roasted character. The roast notes are softened by dark fruit flavors and a touch of sweet malt. The sweetness is almost more of a perceived thing than from actual sugars as this finishes pretty dry; the fruit flavors and esters seem to be what accentuates the perceived sweetness in this beer. The fruit flavors remind me of concentrated plums, Concord grapes and burnt raisin notes. As the beer warms up it picks up a background spiciness of white pepper, all spice and an astringent spicy woodiness. This has a nice, light body that enables this to be quite quaffable; it is not watery though, but certainly achieves the lightness that I like to see in a good Belgian beer, though it does still have some texture to it that allows it to just stick to the palate. There is also a bready malt character here, a toasty grain note and a browed biscuit note that comes out more than the roast character the more the beer warms up. The texture also tends to get more velvety as the beer warms and flavors of chocolate become noticeable as they mix in with the dark fruit flavors.

This is a beer that grows on me the more I work my way through the 750ml bottle; it started out good, but it is finishing great. This is complex, drinkable, interesting and a great mix of leading fruit notes supported by an ever-present malt and spice character. In the end this is a fantastic beer that I am quite enjoying.

Served In: Tulip