Tuesday 11 December 2012

De Dolle standard

Original nuttah: De Dolle Oerbier is
a true oddball ale
I just spent the best part of an hour constructing a paean to the Dutch in preparation for tonight's beer, only to find out the ruddy thing's Belgian. 

So you'll forgive any spelling mistakes or hastily constructed sentences (as you usually do) while I rattle this off in the next five minutes.

Course, the previous copy won't go to waste - there's at least one Dutch beer lurking in the crate somewhere - but for now I've got the pleasure of sampling a funny looking one from De Dolle Brouwers (trans. the mad brewers), Esen, West Flanders.

By all accounts (i.e. the company's website) there used to be six small brewers in the village of Esen, one for every household presumably. Always knew those Belgians could tuck it away. But since 1980, De Dolle have had the monopoly where Esen brewing is concerned and it looks like they've made it count.

The brewery now puts out a range of beers, from its flagship Oerbier (original beer) to a hefty stout, taking in a couple of speciality seasonal ales as well.

But I don't know. I'm always immediately suspicious of anyone who describes themselves as mad anything. It's a soubriquet you can have foisted on you by others, but not one you can tag yourself. Like nicknames, it's only ever effective if someone else calls you it.

The website's fairly wacky too, although I don't mind that as much. The copy is zany, but then it's infinitely better than my Flemish, so I'd better give them the benefit of the doubt. Let's hope the beer is what they do best. I'm sure it will be. I mean, it's wearing a bow tie, for crying out loud. It must be good.

Beer: De Dolle Oerbier
Strength: An insane 9%
Colour: The kind of brown you find in old, smoke-stained Belgian bars
Smell: Malt vinegar and sour cooking apples
Tasting notes: A rolling barrel full of malt careers forth from the moment you take your first sip. This is unnerving, as you are right in the way and there's no way of side-stepping it. But help is at hand in the form of an Indiana Jones whip-wielding sourness that flails around your tongue like a hose that's been let go and smashes the barrel to pieces right before your eyes. Sure, a bit of the malt escapes and you might slip on it as you make your escape, but you'd take that over being flattened. Finally, as the chaos subsides, you get a healthy dollop of molasses to prepare you mentally for the next glug.
Gut reaction: Given the frothiness, the strength and the lactobacterial fermentation, I'm making sure the bathroom door's open for the rest of the evening.
Session factor: Poor. You'd be face down and gibbering like a madman after three at the outside.
Arbitrary score: 1980

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