My first experience with this beer was last Summer, when I had a sip of my brother’s two seconds after I’d had a few sips of Avery Maharaja (read: HOP BOMB EXTRAORDINAIRE). Suffice it to say that, in my over-hopped mouth-state, I had no idea what the Grimbergen actually tasted like – my mind retained a dim idea of something along the lines of “apple,” and “apple” seemed roughly like the type of thing my tastebuds would come up with after the Maharaja(i.e., something wrong). So I was surprised when “apple” came to mind even on perfectly fresh taste buds.
It’s nice to find out sometimes that I’m not completely out of my mind.
Name: Grimbergen Dubbel
Origin: Brouwerij Alken-Maes, Belgium
IBU: no idea, but low
I drank this: at Barley’s, Shawnee, KS
(The real color of the beer is closest to the edge right around the bottom of the glass. Or, well, the pen next to the glass.)
This beer is a lovely deep auburn color with a nice, thickly-bubbled head. I don’t think the color shows up well here at all – if anyone out there knows how to make the flash on a Samsung Transform flash not *quite* so blindingly, I’d love to learn the secret.
Anyway, it smells like fruity-caramelly brown sugar, definitely leaning into the apple range of fruitiness. It’s a pleasant smell – the type of thing that makes me think “this would be AWESOME with brie.”
This is a really lovely, fairly sweet ale with touches of maple, apple, brown sugar and tons of malt. It’s a full and rich and layered flavor. It goes to straight apple right at the swallow, and then shifts into a malty, almost slightly white floral aftertaste.* For some reason, paperwhites came to mind in the aftertaste phase.
It’s a nice switch from the Chimays out there. Chimays tend to be really high in carbonation – to the point where it’s almost painful to drink – whereas the carbonation in the Grimbergen Dubbel is quite low for a Belgian Ale. It has a soft mouthfeel, almost creamy, but coupled with just enough acidity to keep it from being syrupy. This is a beer that would be really good with food.
For a Belgian beer, I think this is one of the more approachable brews available. Belgians can be really difficult to get into because they tend to be quite a bit different from everything people are used to. They’re stronger, sweeter, thicker, and some of them – namely Saisons – can get into all kinds of sour yeast horse barn funk that is really off-putting at first (kind of like hops can be, when I think about it). The Grimbergen doesn’t have any of the sour funkiness that a lot of Belgians have, so it’s a great gateway beer. Try one sometime, especially if you’ve had/liked Chimay’s Red label.
*I’m still blown away that I noticed apple in there, because I was absolutely convinced that my thoughts of apple last August had more to do with hop-mouth than with anything actually going on in the beer. Basically, I feel far too proud of myself right now.