2009 Beers in Review-Best Beer #7

12 12 2009

We continue our hit list for 2009 with…

Number 7 Best Beer of 2009

Grimbergen Double- Brasserie Union (Alken-Maes / Heineken) Jumet, Belgium

Photo Credit: Rodrigo Campos

Belgian Double

Rate Beer Score: 81 Points

I am not sure about other cities, but in DC, Belgian beers couldn’t be hotter. It seems like every other month there is a new restaraunt promising the “best pomme frites“, the “freshest moules“, and the “widest selection of beers this side of Brussels”.

And it is easy to see why. As American palates for beer have become more refined, mature and daring; their gaze understandably turns to Belgium–with their abbey style ales brewed by Trapist monks and their exotic farm house styles fermented with wild yeast and bacteria.

Unfortunately, in order to drink honest to goodness Belgian beers, one needs a budget as darring as one’s tongue. To get a Lindeman’s gueze means risking fifteen dollars on a sour beer. Or to get a Rodenbach Grand Cru means spending nearly the same on something with the alltogether uninspiring name of “Flemmish Red”. And is Rochefort really worth a dollar an ounce?

But that is precisely why I love Grimbergen Double. It is an honest to goodness Belgian with a domestic price. And on top of that, it is darn tasty!

Grimbergen pours heavily with a dark brown body and sparkling ruby red highlights. The head is rocky with a pale pink reminiscent of the creme on a cranberry juice. The head collapses fairly quickly but leaves enough to create some descent lacing.

As with all Belgians, this beer is malt forward (Belgians don’t really “do” hops). Caramel, dried fruit (raisins, prunes, apricot), and malt ball give the strongest flavor notes. The hops and the yeast really take a back seat here and let the malt do all the driving. There is a bit of a sparkle on the back end from acid and alcohol.

This is a pretty standard abbey double. Big on sugary malts and relatively low on alcohol (6.5%ABV). It is the perfect beginner’s Belgian–non-threatening and easy on the pocket. I would pair this with a smokey gouda, some stilton, a nice New England cheddar as well as fresh berries. If you do not have a trappiste goblet, use a wine glass to get the full effect of the color, head and aroma.

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