I love Belgians. More specifically, their ales. I had the pleasure of drinking a Rochefort 8 this evening, and it was fantastic. Rich cherry notes, plum, a little vanilla, and a nice hint of alcohol that just slightly warmed the back of the throat. All in all, good stuff. Sitting here in the U.S., I wonder how these complex Trappists would taste if I were in a pub in Brussels. Overseas shipping and temperature fluctuations must take its toll. I’d imagine it would be the same experience I had drinking a Guinness in Dublin…best I ever had.  But that likely had more to do with the fact that I was a stones throw from St. James Gate and had consumed approximately ten pints of the dark stuff.

Of the official Trappist ales, I’ve enjoyed about half of them. A Chimay Triple is chilling in my beer fridge, with an Orval begging to be opened later this evening.

I kind of like the idea of getting to know a country or region through its beer…spend a couple months sampling the wares, appreciating the subtle differences and brewing traditions…then push on to a whole ‘nother area. As a somewhat fledgling home brewer, I think it helps strengthen the palette. It also helps me understand the time and effort that goes into making a truly drinkable beer. As I’d tell my fiance, this type of research is the yeast I can do.

Rating: A-