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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Adbij der Trappisten van Westmalle’ Category

Westmalle Trappist Dubbel

July 31st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Adbij der Trappisten van Westmalle, Country: Belgium, Grade: A plus, Style: Dubbel

7% ABV from a bottle

I’ll spoil this review right off the bat and tell you I’m giving this beer an A+.

After giving only two A pluses in my first 100 reviews, this will now be my second A+ in my last nine. I’m starting to feel like a grade-inflating Harvard professor, doling out A pluses to every single student because we all know that every one that goes to an Ivy League institution is a brilliant, exceptional, and hard-working child that deserves nothing but the highest marks. Or, rather, they have rich parents that will make blackmailing claims of withdrawing their monetary contributions should their kid get (gasp!) a B.

Perhaps, I’m being unfair to myself. Look at my grade categories in the right column. Four A pluses, fourteen As, and fourteen A minuses compared to only eleven total Ds and three total Fs. If you plotted my grades out on some graph paper, it certainly wouldn’t be a bell curve, in fact, its “bell” would be very far to the extreme right, more so than even Jim DeMint. It would look like I’m a classic grade inflater. But I’m not. It is just that on a daily basis I am relentlessly searching out what are considered the best beers on the planet. Intentionally avoiding macro shit that I know would get Ds and Fs from me in order to drink quality. I see no reason to tipple Miller High Lives and Natural Lights and Milwaukee’s Bests* with the same frequency I drink quality stuff, just to get an accurate-looking bell curve. That’s life. That’s science. And those are my findings. And you can’t argue with scientific findings. Just like the findings have found men to be smarter than women and Jews to be the best lovers on the planet**.

So fear not, dear reader, that I will ever intentionally overrate or underrate a beer, simply because I “need” a grade. I will always honestly score them and if I keep finding myself drinking A pluses I shouldn’t be upset, I shouldn’t think it “bad” for me and my blog, but of course I should be exuberant–I’m drinking another fucking masterpiece!

Thus, after last week’s brilliant Westmalle Trippel tasting I knew I’d have to try their Dubbel.

I expected it to be great but slightly “worse” than the Tripel, a solid A brew. If you don’t know a lot about beer, you probably think what I used to think, that a dubbel is essentially just a less-alcoholic version of a tripel. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Both smell and taste amazing, no question.

But while tripels are pale in color, dubbels such as Westmalle pour an almost stoutish dark black, with hints of ruby red appearing. While tripels have light, sweet, and citrusy flavors, this dubbel had some serious bite. Dominant tastes of malt, burnt sweetness like coffee, darker rich fruits such as plums and cherries, and caramelized sugar as if full of toffee.

And, most interesting to me, while the Westmalle Tripel was light, almost refreshingly light, on the palate, the dubbel was far more potent, despite it being 2.5% less alcoholic. A paradox!  Being a fan of bold barley wines and strong ales, though, this is just how I like my beer.

The Westmalle Dubbel is imminently drinkable, it tickles your tongue all the way down to your throat. I wish this beer wasn’t so expensive ($5.99 for a 12 ouncer is what I paid at the store) because I could drink these all night, every night. It’s so hard to savor because it is just so delicious and near perfect in every way.

I would even dare say that the Dubbel is better than the Westmalle Tripel.  It is, at least, as good.

I enjoyed this with a friend, a girl who absolutely does not drink beer–ever–and who even hates the smell of it to be near her. I urged my friend, whose drinking standards run the gamut from pear vodkas to peach vodkas with an occasional raspberry vodka when she feels like branching out, to give the Dubbel a try.  I was so impressed with the beer I needed to share it with someone else.

She refused at first, but I urged her on.

Trepidatiously, she took a small sniff. Then a little sip. The look in her eyes showed that even she was shocked she wasn’t revolted.

“This is the first beer that I actually understand how people could like it. I get it!”

What better praise then that? A beer so good even non-beer-drinkers understand its brilliance.

Now I’m only mad that Westmalle doesn’t have any more beers for me to try and award A pluses to!

A+

*Other than the fact that the worst beers seem to produce some of my funniest essays.

**Masters, William H. & Virginia E. Johnson & Robert E. Kolodny, “Human Sexuality,” 2nd edition, 1984, page 784

Westmalle Trappist Tripel

July 22nd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Adbij der Trappisten van Westmalle, Country: Belgium, Grade: A plus, Style: Tripel

9.5% ABV from a bottle

You ever see a beautiful girl for just a fleeting second, maybe you don’t even formally meet her, or get her name, or even catch her eye in return, but nevertheless for the next few days, or weeks even, you can’t get her off your fucking mind. Her beautiful, smiling face seared into your brain, her supple body in all your thoughts as you dream of one day kissing her, fucking her, and living happily ever after with her.

Yeah, that’s never happened to me either. I’m not some psycho pervert with limited female options.

However, nearly a month ago, for reasons still unclear, I had just a small sip of my first ever Westmalle Tripel and I’ve been dying to revisit it since, knowing that a masterpiece was looming out there, waiting my approval. However, oddly enough, though it usually is easily found, for some reason Manhattan has been in short supply of it recently. I’ve seen countless Westmalle Dubels on the shelves, but the Tripel is what I really wanted to lay down with. Finally, last Friday I located a single bottle of the magical elixir at the Columbus Circle Whole Foods, the bottle so abused that it was missing its front label and only had a tattered back label to even announce what majesty lay inside. Fine by me, I wouldn’t be drinking labels, just glorious Belgian Trappist beer.

I’m not sure if your typical Joe Sixpack realizes that the finest beer in the world is not made by giant corporate machines in St. Louis or Milwaukee tended to by high school drop-outs missing digits who load the canned swill onto Clydesdales which then deliver the goods to our nation’s scuzziest Laz-E-Boys. But rather, the world’s finest beer is made by Trappist monks. Real, honest-to-God monks who simply make the beer not for profit, but rather so that they can continue affording to live as poverty-stricken monks. You know, kinda like how hookers only give $1000 blowjobs to politicians so that they can continue dressing in gauche Gucci clothes and sleeping til noon every day.

Aside from having to be completely devoted to God, having to remain at a monastery around the clock, having to live strict lives of personal poverty and with a major lack of possessions or access to pop cultural awesomeness, forced to take vows of silence and celibacy, ordered to abstain from meat, fowl, and most fishes, and not ever getting to do anything impure or Vice Blog-worthy, those monks surely live the life! Everyday awaking at sunrise to pray, pray, pray, and pray some more. And don’t knock the vow of silence, I don’t want to hear most of the diarrheal bullshit spewing out of most people’s mouths any how. Not like a monk has anything cool to talk about. They don’t watch college basketball or “From G’s to Gents.” A life of quiet contemplation is where it’s at. Especially when you’re making some of the world’s finest beer, which you of course get to drink every single day. Gratis. That’s one of the monastic perks yo.

Yeah, when I retire I’m either going to move to a giant compound in Louisville with my 24-year-old trophy wife where I’ll golf all day and drink bourbon, smoke cigars, and eat fatty southern foods drenched in gravies all night (don’t worry, I’ll still blog it) or to Belgium where I will renounce my Judaism, eliminate my Atheism, put on a comfy brown hooded robe cinched with a rope and begin peacefully making–and secretly get loaded on, shhh–beer all day long.

Eh, I doubt they’d have this loud and frequently-yakking Jew on the premises. It would kinda be like when Whoopi got “Back in the habit.”

There are actually only 7 Trappist monasteries that make beer. One in the Netherlands, Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven, and the big six in Belgium: Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Achelse Kluis, the mythical Westvleteren, and of course Westmalle.

If it’s taking me a bit long to get to the review, it is exactly how I felt as I was about to drink the beer. I was literally nervous that it wouldn’t be as good as I’d built it up to be and I procrastinated. Yes, I literally procrastinated over drinking a beer. When I finally got to it, it came out in an incredibly rich and smooth foam pour. It looked beautiful and I had to wait for quite a tortuous while for it to thin down. Incredibly bubbly like a fine champagne.

The smell is fantastic, as good as it gets. It fucking smells like Belgium. There’s no way any beer expert could sniff this one and not know immediately that it was a Belgian Trappist brew.

The absolute first taste was great but fairly normal and I got a bit concerned, but by the time the gulp hit the back of my throat I could see how goddamn special it is. Nice bite, good warmth. Very alcoholic. In fact, Trappist beers are always going to be quite strong as they were originally crafted to sustain the monks through Lent, acting as “liquid bread.” Right up my alley.

I can truly say I have never really tasted a beer like this before. It is unbelievable and glorious. Bottle-fermented it is absurdly creamy, just a little bitter, very fruity with prominent tastes of banana, and a whole lotta hops and malts.

I drank it as slow as possible, savoring ever sip, not wanting it to be over. I was sad when I was through, knowing my next drink would pale in comparison. I’ll need to always have this in stock and I look forward to cellaring some.

Simply one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

A+