Saturday, December 26, 2009

Matt's Christmas Beer #1: Affligem Blond

Beer: Affligem Blond (Belgium)
Type: belgian pale ale
Brewery: Affligem Brouwerij
ABV: 6.8%

The toughest part about going to the liquor store around Christmas is when your lovely fiancee tells you that you can't buy any of the wonderful beer-and-glass gift sets because 'people' might be getting you them for Christmas. The payoff is when you finally get them for Christmas.

Beer at Christmas: It's what Jesus would do, were he not underage at the time.

Today's offering is the first from my Affligem gift set, a blonde ale. Affligem is the name of an abbey in Opwijk, Belgium, and if there's anything you need to know about beer, it's this: Belgian abbey beers are friggin' amazing. The monks there operate under the principle that if there's not much going on other than prayer and self-reflection, you might as well brew beer for your fellow man. And, if you're going to be brewing beer in the service of God, you might as well make some of the finest beer on the planet.

Case. In. Point.

(Got to pour this one into my new spiffy glass - it's always fun drinking a few in its appropriate, branded glassware!)

The appearance of this brew is just spectacular. The body is a dark golden hue, slightly opaque, with a little bit of visible carbonation. The head is foamy white, about 3cm, and I gotta say, it just wouldn't go away. There was at least 1cm of head for the entire tasting, right up to the finish. Suffice to say, this made for some fantastic lacing.

(To give you some idea, this picture was taken about 10 minutes after I first poured it!)

Affligem Blond is slightly hoppy, with lemon and pepper being the dominant flavours. Dry and crisp to the finish, almost like a pilsner. The nose is slightly hoppy, with a bit of a bready, yeast smell to it, which is very common for Belgian brews (Unibroue from Quebec also demonstrates this phenomenon). I also detect a bit of wine grapes and apple, with only a slight alcoholic odor at the very back, which doesn't appear in the taste.

The brew is well carbonated, but it doesn't leave a stinging sensation on the tongue, which is big points. With the head lasting until the last sip, there was definitely a creamy texture to the brew.

Affligem blond was simply a terrific brew, one of the better Belgian pale ale's I've tried thus far. Unfortunately, the gift set is thus far the only place I've managed to find the blonde ale in Ontario, so it's pretty rare.

If you do come across it in your wanderings, I urge you to check it out. Them monks be brewing up goodness.

(Grade: A)

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