Total Score: 7.3/10
Wow, there’s still a Belgian Pale Ale out there I’ve yet to try (he said sarcastically to himself). This one doesn’t appear to get quite the marketing that Leffe does but it looks alright in the overall presentation – classic looking label, description on the 4-pack as to how one should pour it (swirling the yeast and tipping it into the glass as one should), and I see it has won the “World Beer Awards – world’s best beer 2014” – which I will admit could be completely made up, I don’t really follow the festival scene. In any case it looks like a real Belgian Blonde, so let’s dive in!
Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Chimay chalice.
A: Presents with the typical cloudy amber body of most Belgian Blondes, perhaps a tad more on the orange side, with a miserly off-white speckled foam head which at least leaves some spider-web lacing on the side of the glass. 6/10.
S: Odd hint of cereals upfront mixes with bold candi sugar notes, there’s more sugar in this aroma than a sweet shop, some coriander and nutmeg spice comes through from the yeast. Overall aroma is not bad but not as finessed as some of more well-known Abbey beers – specifically the classic Trappist brews (you know who they are). 6/10.
T: Surprisingly well balanced in the flavour – why do I say that? Well I was expecting a truckload of sugar like in Leffe’s Blonde, however instead it’s all balanced out with the hops and yeast. Flavours noted: Bread, candi sugar, coriander, nutmeg, pepper, herbal/citric hops, with a dry/herbal bitter finish. Aftertaste is a bit of an odd vegetal/herbal combo which does distract a little, but otherwise this is an unexpectedly decent Blonde. 8/10.
M: Mid to light bodied with a dense but slightly sharp carbonation. 8/10.
D: For someone who is easily turned off by too much sweetness in beers (and in general since I cut sugar out of my diet) this Blonde really hits the niche I’m looking for in a Belgian Pale Ale – it’s a brew that gives enough balance with that classic Belgian yeast spicy/peppery character that we all sometimes crave. It’s not perfect, it could use work in the appearance, aroma and aftertaste – however this is outweighed also by a decent pricing ($15 for a 4-pack). Will I get this again? Yes. That answer says it all then. 7/10.
Food match: Abbey cheese and bread board, with rosemary roast lamb.