Friday, August 26, 2016

De Struise Tsjeeses Belgian Christmas Ale (9/10)

Some of you are wondering "Why the heck is he reviewing a Christmas Ale in August?"  That's a fair question, with a simple answer, this Christmas Ale seems to be available year-round and it's one of my very favorite ones.

The image on the label, and the name of the beer itself, generates a certain amount of discussion. Some friends and family members find the image upsetting, seeing it as depicting a famous religious figure with a Santa Claus hat on his head.  Others say the image looks nothing like that religious figure and is probably just a picture of one of the brewers with a hat and sunglasses on him.  Whatever it is, it might lead you to take the beer less than seriously.  It might even convince you to pass it by on a store shelf.  That's fine with me, because it leaves more available for me to buy.

The label says "Tsjeeses is a jolly, blond winter ale with a fluffy white cap.  Its aroma is elegant with hints of fruit, spices, refreshing herbs, and noble hops. The taste is robust, very complex, and quite dry for its style.  This warming ale is our gift to you for the holidays. Enjoy!"

Tsjeeses pours a nice coppery brown with an extremely generous off-white head that lasts a while.

The aroma is sweet, hinting at dark fruit, caramel, spice, and a strong alcohol presence... all as the label suggests.

The flavor starts sweet, malty, and with definite dark fruit notes.  The warmer the beer gets, the more pronounced the sweetness and fruitiness.  The colder it is, the less sweet it is and the more the hops bitterness is noticeable.  Ideally, I like it the upper 40's and lower 50's Fahrenheit.  Your taste may vary. To me, this is pretty much everything a Belgian beer should taste like.

I typically see this at Whole Foods in Dublin, at The Andersons General Store in Dublin, and at Weiland's Gourmet Market.  Even at $6-9 a bottle, I'll tend to pick one up any time I see it, unless I know I have a couple at home.

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