Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Antwerpse Brouw Co. Seef (5/10)

I purchased Seef at Savor Market some time ago.  The fact that it was a Belgian ale and that the label reminded me of something from the 1950’s got my attention.  There is also mention of it being an award-winning beer, too. 

I tried a bottle right away and disliked it.  I decided to let another bottle condition for a while to see if it improved with cellaring.  This review reflects notes from both a fresh bottle and a cellared bottle.

Seef pours a slightly cloudy gold with a thick white head that dissipates within a minute or so of pouring.  Despite the head not lasting for long, there is a champagne like carbonation to it as you drink it.

The aroma has elements of both vinegar and fruit, with some malt and perhaps a hint of yeast in there.  It’s neither a particularly pleasant aroma, nor is it entirely unpleasant.  It’s just kind of… odd… or funky…  My notes on the fresh bottle of Seef were that it smelled something like old water that had been used to boil hot dogs.  The cellared bottle doesn’t strike me that way, but I still can’t say it has the delicious aroma of a Tsjeeses Riserva or New Belgium Tripel.

The flavor seems to match well to the aroma.  It starts sweet and malty with a hint of fruit.  Then, you get a slight sourness and a mild hoppy bitterness.  The finish, to be perfectly honest, reminds me of a Budweiser or similar macro brew.  The cellared bottle definitely is milder than the original, so if you purchase this beer I’d strongly recommend cellaring it before drinking – or before tossing it if you didn’t like it at purchase.  It might be more tolerable after time in the cellar.

To balance out my own notes, here are some observations from the folks at Beer Advocate:
  • Somewhere at the intersection of a tripel and a hefe… it’s very unique, unlike other Belgian stuff.   A nose of dusty old German malts… the yeast also adds to this ancient sort of unearthing aromatic, it’s funky, short of brett beer funk, but strange…
  • Mostly sweet mashed bananas on the nose, a little floral/grassiness… estery sweetness, followed with some herbal and grassy notes and a very slight bitterness on the end.
  • Very dry. Slight lemon taste, like a hef…. bitter, grassy backing.
The Beer Advocate crowd rates it 80-82 out of 100RateBeer gave it a 64 overall, which is more in line with my own rating of 5/10.  It’s very unusual to see me rating any Belgian or Belgian-style ale down this low, which tells you something for how the aroma and flavor of Seef strike me.  Given a choice between this and a macro brew, I’d probably have a hard time making the call.  The macro would certainly be more boring and less flavorful, but it also wouldn’t have the strange funk, sourness, and grassy notes I get in this one.

I purchased this beer at Savor Market and don’t recall having seen it at other shops in town, but I’m sure it’s available at some of them.

Flavor Profile:
Sweet, Malty, Dry, Bitter, or Sour:
Malty, sour, sweet, bitter – all somewhat at once
Spice Level:  
Hops Level: Low
Dominant Flavors: lemony/vinegary sourness, malt 
ABV:  6.5%
IBU:  Unknown, but probably below 25
My Rating: 5/10

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