Affligem Noël Christmas Ale - Ale brewed with spices (2013)
Brewed and Bottled by Brouwerij Affligem / De Smedt in Opwijk, Belgium.
25.4 fl. oz. / $9.49 USD / 9% ABV
About: "Affligem Noel is known for its rich, complex flavor and is one of those very special beers that people await to be released every year. It's a dark, ruby red Abby beer with the fresh smell of wonderful spices, such as licorice and orange zest. Affligem Noel is a true seasonal specialty with a complex flavor that is excellent with festive holiday foods or simply enjoyed on its own. The perfect alternative to wines and liquors."
Thoughts: Produced 9/4/13. Drank 1/3/14. Noël poured a really beautiful and transparent deep shade of cherry red. The light egg nog cream colored head started to fizzle away fast but developed into a thick layer atop the brew, as carbonation is very heavy.
Smells frosty. Har. Up front it's Belgian yeast, crisp apples and black cherry. Very nice. Following behind there's some peppery bread loaf, cough syrup and pear juice. It smells rather sugary, and has a hint of alcohol lingering beyond the cold.
The beer started off very sweet but calmed quickly. I was hit with a huge sensation of cherries, candi sugar, and a haze of dry spices reminiscent of allspice and nutmeg. The sweetness quickly turned into a mouth drying haze, and then shortly afterwards emerged the base flavors of sourdough cinnamon bread, funky yeast, caramel malt, pepper, toffee, ash, dirty water and moist leaves. It's a really delectable beer, with the alcohol fumes and the fire that builds inside narrowly outweighing the beautiful tastes here. If it were the other way around things would be almost as perfect, not that I mind.
The mouth feel on this ones is really light, somewhat airy, soft and thin. It doesn't exactly seem to match the taste and smell of the beer, but it's not off putting or anything... though it could be a bit silkier. Overall this is a very enjoyable beer, and though it's got some minor flaws, I'd highly recommend it. Choosing the Mad Elf glass was the right choice for this one as cherries are all over this thing, and the strength isn't exactly hidden either. Belgian christmas ales, man... you know?