Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V. Kasteel Winter (2013 Vintage)

The Stats
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 11%
Current Ratings...
- Beer Advocate: 4.23/5
- RateBeer: 3.6/5

"Kasteel Winter is a unique departure from the standard Christmas ales known for their potpourri of cinnamon and clove. In fact, it stands alone as one of the most decadent and elegant Quadruples of Belgium in its own right. This 11% ABV beer pours a Chestnut brown with an off-white head. The nose is rich, with a warming scent of Coffee, Toffee, and Dried Fruits. The mouthfeel is rich and sweet like that of melted candy. The key ingredients to this delicacy is Belgian Chocolate and Coffee...noteworthy phrases in any brewers handbook. All of these elements come together to provide an after taste reminiscent of a tootsie roll."

Pours an ugly, murky, muddy, dark brown, but does have hints of glowing burgundy red. The pour produced barely any head, but what was there was beige or khaki-colored.

The aroma is quite enticing with tons of coffee followed by raisins, a little bit of dark chocolate, and slight booziness.

I can't get over how much coffee there is in this beer (after three years no less). This style isn't known for adding in dessert-like ingredients, but the coffee is working incredibly well in this case. Equally as big is the bitter dark chocolate which tastes genuine and not artificial. The 11% is adding some heat, but it's a refined alcohol flavor and is more than welcome in this case. The Belgian yeast is throwing in some dark fruits with a kick of spice. The sweet flavors and booze are creating a rum-like feeling, but without the intensity of the alcohol. On the back end I'm getting iced coffee with noticeable vanilla that keeps the dessert theme going all the way to the finish.

Mouthfeel has a booze presence thanks to the abv, but overall it is smooth and calm with noticeable carbonation bubbles on the tongue when held in the mouth. I'm drinking this on a 90-degree Summer day and am having no trouble putting it away.

I didn't know what to expect when I picked this up off the clearance shelf, but it would have been worth full price. The traditional Belgian base beer is here in full swing, but the addition of the coffee and chocolate turned out to be a big risk/big reward for Kasteel Winter. Being unique doesn't automatically make you good, but Kasteel Winter backs up its talk with a delicious beer that is arguably one of the best of its kind.


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