Picking this up, I expected something similar Delirium Noel a slightly spicy Belgian ale with the great mouthfeel and a malty overtone. What I got was something that took Belgian Christmas beers to the extreme and pushed my beer palate to the extreme. Like MMA this beer gives you it all: malts, fruits, high ABV, great smooth texture and a clean finish that all hits you hard like a knee from Overeem (hey that rhymed).
It pours a super dark brown with about two finger head. It smells like prune juice though and makes me wonder if I’m going to make a B line for the head after drinking this. It tastes super sweet with a boat load of plum taste and malt that bombards the palate and give you a finish of spices that I can’t place my finger on. But the dark fruit plum/prune flavor really smack you in the mouth and overwhelms everything but does an excellent job at masking that 10% ABV. After that one glass in the picture … I’m feeling totally happy :)
Now here’s my problem with this beer, I don’t feel the Noel in it. While it might be a great beer, I’m not sure I can really say this qualifies to be a christmas beer. I mean let’s be honest I expect traditional Christmas spices and flavors and I didn’t get that. Similar to my tasting of Troeg’s Mad Elf, GREAT BEER just not christmasy enough for me. This is an outstanding Dark Belgian Ale full of everything I look for in Belgian Dark Ales but is it a christmas beer? You would have to be the judge of that.
Maybe I’m crazy, maybe my ideas of Christmas are muddled by the food I eat during the season. Ham, apple pie, stuffing, candy canes and egg nog are just some of the foods we as Americans traditionally eat during the season. Having married into an Ecuadorian family, the smell of cinnamon simmering away on the stove top permeates my aromas of Christmas and unless I have things that are traditional to me, I’m not convinced. So my problem is with categorization, not the beer itself because the beer is damn near great. Tell me what you think, is this a christmas beer or just another great Belgian Dark Ale by the great Het Anker Brewery?