Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dubuisson Scaldis Noel (10/10)

Throughout the month of December, Columbus Beer Scene will be reviewing the many Christmas, Winter Warmer, and other winter seasonal beers.  I’ll review as many as I am able to do (safely).  This being December 1, it seems appropriate to have our first Christmas beer review.
Brasserie Dubuisson is located in Belgium.  Scaldis Noel is their Christmas ale.  It’s a Belgian Strong Dark style ale brewed in typical Belgian style with spices appropriate to the holiday.

It pours a hazy, coppery amber with just a little less than finger thick off-white head.  The head is thick and creamy, but doesn’t last long.  It leaves virtually no lacing behind.

The aroma is sweet and spicy with a very clear alcohol note to it, which is no surprise given its 12% ABV (the highest I believe you can currently legally sell in Ohio).  I  also get some floral notes in it.

The flavor is hands-down Belgian.  Sweet without being sugary.  Spiced without being overdone, thanks to Candi sugar.  Hops is present, but takes a back seat to the malty sweetness and spice.  There are fruity notes to it as well, which I’d associate with dried apricots, dates, or prunes. 

The prominent alcohol warmth lingers long after you’ve swallowed it, which is perfect for a cold winter night.  (Some folks are turned off by that “burn”.  If you’re one of them, stay away from this beer.  Its got a pretty strong warming note to it.  If it’s too late and you’ve already bought it, feel free to leave it with me.  I’ll give it a good home.)

If you were to hand me a glass of this beer without telling me what it was, I’d know right off that it’s a Belgian (or at least Belgian style) beer.  Would I have pegged it as a Christmas ale?  Probably not.  I don’t detect any flavors or spices that, for me, point to Christmas or winter in general.  But it’s such a darned good beer that I don’t care.  I’ll happily have this again, and again.

It appears that Beer Advocate, RateBeer, and I are pretty much all aligned on this one.  (A Christmas miracle? Maybe.)  Beer Advocate gives Scaldis Noel a 90 (the users) or 99 (The Bros) and call it “outstanding” or “world-class”.  RateBeer gives it a 97/100 overall.  I’m giving it a rare 10/10…. it’s just that good.  It’s exactly what I love in a beer.

I believe I picked up this particular bottle at Weiland’s Gourmet Market.  I've also found it at Ale Wine and Spirits in Powell, The Andersons, and other local retailers.

Flavor Profile:
Malty, Hoppy, or Balanced:  Malty
Sweet, Bitter, or Balanced:  Sweet
Strongest Flavor Notes:  Candi sugar, malt, and alcohol warmth

ABV: 12%
My Rating: 10/10

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