May 24, 2014

Affligem Dubbel

Brewed By: Brouwerij Affligem / De Smedt (Heineken) in Opwijk, Belgium
Purchased: 750ml bottle bought at Friar Tucks in Urbana, IL; 2014 
Style/ABV: Belgian Dubbel, 7.0% 
Reported IBUs: ?

TIL Affligem is Heineken's bitch....about Affligem:
Affligem has a long history as an Abbey, going back to 1074 when six knights quit their day job of kicking ass, and traded their swords for a more peaceful life. Ten years later, and the Abbey was born. Like most Abbeys, Affligem was subject to numerous take downs and rebuildings. In 1796, the French state shut down the Abbey. It was not restored until 1887.
The Monks at Affligem were brewing beer since the early days of the Abbey. During World War II they handed over their recipe to sustain/preserve the business. The brewery is located in Opwijk, Belgium, and is owned by Heineken. For more info, check out the brewery's website
The Affligem Dubbel is an...Abbey Dubbel. This one really needs no explanation. Described as dark and spicy, this one should feature lots of clove, spice, anise, raisins, molasses, and bananas. The bottle is cool, and the glass is no slouch...let's see how she stacks up.
Affligem Dubbel

Wow...this is a raw, rustic Dubbel. I'm digging this from the onset, with the beer's dark reddish-brown/orange body. The body is hazy, and you can see yeast suspended in the beer, along with a stream of carbonation rising upwards from the chalice's nucleation point. This one kicks up one to two fingers of thick, bready, caramel-tinted head. This just looks the part of an Abbey Ale, all rustic and conditioned...nice. [there's good, clingy head retention/glossy alcohol legs]

The aroma is even better than the appearance. I'm getting some apples and wheat up front, with some caramel sugars. If you dig deeper you get rich raisins, breads, brown sugars, bready desserts (I think raisin bread is a safe call), mild anise, clove, green bananas, perfumed dark's just deep and layered, and goes way beyond the apple and wheat notes you initially get.

The taste follows through with the nose, almost spot on. That's not a bad thing, as you get blasted with sweet caramel, raisins/molasses, apples, and wheat up front. There are figs and stone fruits abound in here, with perfumed dark fruits firing on all cylinders across the tongue through the beer's velvety-smooth and perfectly carbonated body. I'm getting some hints of bread in here, brown sugar, raisin bread, dark fruits, dried dark berries, and tons of spicy phenols ala clove and cinnamon. Finally, I'm getting a dash of light anise/licorice.

This is classic Abbey through and through. Maybe it plays things a little safe, but the execution is flawless. And this feels rustic and vintage. I wonder how old this recipe is. I'm not getting any of the beer's 7.0%, but this is full-bodied and authoritative. The mouthfeel is perfect, with great duration, and tons of creamy, carbonated goodness. Complexity is fairly high as well. This expands in layers, with apples, raisins, wheat, caramel, and molasses up front; the mids hit carbonated figs, dark fruits, perfume, clove spice; the back end has malts, with breads, cakes, raisin bread, brown sugar, cinnamon, clove...the finish is dry and lightly dusty. This is well-balanced, and big. Nice... 

Rating: Divine Brew (4.5/5.0 Untappd)

I can't believe I'm saying this about a Heineken-owned product, but this is a Light Divine Brew and one of the better Abbey Dubbels I have had. What pushes this beer over the top is the absolutely PERFECT and MEMORABLE mouthfeel, and the layers of complexity. This beer is also perfectly balanced, with good bitterness, tons of spice, lots of malts, and a dry clean finish. As this warms up the spice and malts are popping, and adding the yeast from the bottom of the bottle seems to add character. I'm just enjoying the heck out of this beer, and I could see myself buying this beer again in the Winter months. I feel like this is the perfect beer to pair with a meat and cheese tray, preferably during a football game. You could also pair this beer with stews, hearty soups, grilled meats, and ham. This is just some rustic and refined goodness. I'm surprised...I'm intrigued...I give this a VERY STRONG RECOMMENDATION, especially at around $10 a bottle. Check it out. 

Random Thought: I feel like classic Abbey/Belgian Dubbels are quite different from the candi sugar overload American counterparts. There is nothing wrong with that, but surely this style distinction is worth noting. Compare something like Solemn Oath's Big Box Make Magic to the beer that we have in front of us, and yeah. Two awesome beers with completely different experiences. 

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