Brouwerij De Dolle of Belgium produces this excellent Belgian Strong Pale Ale for the holidays. It’s considered one of their “prestige beers”.
It pours from the bottle a very cloudy (almost milky) coppery reddish brown color. The thick white head is very creamy looking but doesn’t last very long.
The aroma reminds me of a sweet wine, like a zinfandel. The flavor starts out malty and a little sour, but then turns sweet, malty, fruity, and mildly spiced. The finish is warming, but not as warming as you might expect for a 12% alcohol beer.
Beer Advocate loves this one, with visitors giving it a 93/100 or “outstanding” rating, and The Bros giving it 100 or “world class”. Rate Beer is similarly impressed, giving it a 99. I find that, for me, rating it is a little tougher. As a beer, and ignoring the holiday aspect of it, it’s great. It definitely deserves a 9/10. But it’s lacking something as a holiday ale, as far as I’m concerned, so I’m docking it a point on that. I’m giving it an 8 as a Christmas ale, but honestly this is an 8.5 or 9 kind of beer.
Where can you buy this in Columbus? Hard to say. I’ve had it at The Winking Lizard Tavern on Bethel Road. I have yet to see it in a store in the Columbus area, but I’d certainly buy a few bottles if I did. If you find it in town, please post the location and price in the comments.
Sweet, Malty, Dry, or Bitter: Sweet (but with an initial sourness, kind of like a zinfandel wine)
Spice Level: Holiday spices are low or non-existent, Belgian style spiciness is present.
Hops Level: Very Low
Dominant Flavors: Fruit, malt, citrus, candi sugar spices
IBU: Unknown, but likely well below 25
My Rating: 8/10