Ultimate 6er | A Bevy of Belgian-styles
Belgian-style beers run the gamut from light, bubbly pale ales to hearty, dark quadrupels. They can be bright, vivid, and effervescent, and they can be strong, savory, and bold. However they appear, they tend to make an impression. So much so that even the most adamant of non-beer drinkers (I’m looking at you, winos) can be won over with the right combination of fruit, spice, and alcohol.
Today, I’m exhibiting a pair of Belgian-style or Belgian-inspired beers from each of three American brewers: Ommegang, Goose Island, and Boulevard. The pair from Ommegang are the Rare Vos Abbey-style amber and the Three Philosophers quadrupel. Those from Goose Island are named Matilda, a pale ale and The Ogden, a tripel. The last two come from Boulevard Brewing. They are the Long Strange Tripel and The Sixth Glass, another quad.
The first of the Goose Island beers, Matilda is a Belgian-style pale ale that pours mostly gold with a tinge of amber. Matilda exhibits little in the way of head, which means there’s more room for your nose. The scent gives off a mustiness with hints of fruit and a nebulous sweetness. In terms of texture, it’s smooth at the beginning and dry at the end. And while individual flavors are difficult to tease apart (at least for me), the overall taste is anything but muddled. I’d say it reminds me of earth, fleshly sun-dried after a rain storm.
Right out of the bottle, this tripel is noticeably different with its hazy, straw color. Its smell is distinct for its citrus, hops, and spice, and the flavor substantiates those impressions. I’d say the citrus and spice win the flavor war, but being dry hopped, the hoppy bitterness is not without it own victories. According to my reading, The Ogden has since been retired. So, if you come across it, you might want to pick up a bottle or two, not only for its increasing rarity, but also for its refined feel.
Long Strange Tripel
The Long Strange Tripel pours bubbly and transparent gold with a light head that tends to linger. It smells of citrus fruit and spice — not hops, mind you, spice. In terms of texture, it’s clean and carbonated, yet smooth. The flavor substantiates the spicy fruitiness of the nose and carries a noticeable degree of alcohol. Overall, this is a bright, flavorful ale that carries quite a punch.
The Sixth Glass
The Sixth Glass has a hazy, deep auburn color with a light tan head, and a smell that is equal parts complex and alluring. I’m reminded of dried dark fruit like dates, including their inherent sweetness and density. The taste is a full-bodied explosion of spice, fruit, and alcohol, with sweet malt and a warming finish (thanks, of course, to the plentiful amount of alcohol). After drinking it, I feel like The Sixth Glass should be subtitled “The Devil’s Potion” because this brew is tempting, persuasive, and dangerous.
A dark, copper-colored Belgian-style amber ale, Ommegang’s Rare Vos smells of citrus, coriander, and malty sweetness. It’s a bit a spicier than our previous brews, owing to the Grains of Paradise with which it was brewed. In order to maximize the scents and flavors, do as the label says and “pour slowly so as not to disturb the yeast, but with enough vigor to create a luxurious head release the rich bouquet.”
Last in our Ultimate 6er is a quadrupel, Three Philosophers. As a quad, it’s dark in color, a deep amber to be more precise. With a moderate pour you should get a couple fingers of luscious, luxurious head. It smells of malt and fruit, but not bright fruit like some of our previous tripels and paler ales. The texture is smooth and rich, and the fruit really comes out as it moves around your tongue, thanks in no small part to the 2% kriek (Belgian cherry ale). It’s light on the bitterness and heavy on the deliciousness. I encourage you to imbibe on this ale, but do so judiciously.