Sunday, December 18, 2011

On the Ninth Day of Christmas... true love gave to me – Serafijn Christmas Angel, Microbrowerij Achilles, Itegem, Belgium.

At the end of November, when I began telling people I was planning to write about twelve Christmas beers, the list of suggestions was a mile long—and all Belgian. Belgium loves it's Christmas beer. Hell, there's even a Christmas Beer Festival in the the city of Essen, this very weekend! I received recommendations on Corsendonk, St. Bernardus Abt,  Delrium and Gouden Carolus Noëls, and the list went on and on—and I can't argue, all of those are great beers—Christmas or not. However, when I strolled into Westmere Beverage yesterday, my eye caught this little, tapered bottle, nestled among the skyscraper-like 750ml bottles of it's countrymen. Adorned with a golden, six winged seraph, the bottle had a quiet reverence that drew me in. I'd never heard of it, or it's awesomely named maker, Achilles Van de Moer—who, by the way, was a music teacher, but gave it all up to open a tiny brewery (out of his garage, no less) and café, with his wife, in Itegem, back in 1999. A step above home brew, this stuff has only been available in the U.S. for the last few years. Maybe it was the angel, or Christmastime divine intervention, but I passed up the others, and went for the little, tapered bottle.

It poured a hazy, honey-gold, with a dense, flop of white foam that settled still, looking like meringue. Its aroma is grassy sweet, like cut alfalfa, with a hint of alcohol and a caramel apple quality. There's that typical Belgian banana note, but it faded, fairly quickly after the cap was off. I got a good bit of fruit on the first sip—pear and strawberry and tart apple. It brings a nice yeasty-bread quality, and a little spiciness, with it as well. Its not hoppy, buy any means, other than a slight grassiness, but it has a pretty good bitter bite at the end, along with a nice alcoholic warmth.

I don't know, maybe I'm a sucker for angels, but I'd put this one on the top of my tree—and then Amy would make me take it down.

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