I find it amazing that when I talk to some people that are interested in beer, or just getting into brewing, that Belgian beers tend to have a mixed reaction.
It seems that for most beer enthusiasts, liking Belgian beers is as much of a requirement as wanting your IPA to have as high an ABV as humanly possible. And then you have some that won’t touch the stuff, no explanation given.
I will say, in all due fairness, I adore Belgian beers. They tend to not be overly hoppy, usually have a great nuanced and complex flavor, and the strength of the beer is accompanied by richly varied flavor profiles. These are not beers that are a dare or brutal in any sense of the word, merely strong because that’s just how the recipe ended up to get the flavors that the brewers, sometimes monks which I find very interesting, wanted.
I am lucky in that I have a belgian-style brewery very close to me in nearby Boca Raton. And going to Barrel of Monks is always a treat. I’m usually there with my lovely wife, who enjoys a lot of their beers as much as I do.
She, as a general rule, loves the bigger, bolder, darker beers, which is why on our last visit I had to make sure that she got a pint of Den of Sins (Imperial Stout, 11% ABV). It’s the one on the right.
Den of Sins is their Parade of Souls – already a favorite of mine – aged in Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels. It’s insanely bold and rich, most definitely not for the feint of heart. Big, bold notes wrapped in a great boozy warmth.
I however, like slightly different beer experiences. It doesn’t mean that their core beers are bad. On the contrary, I think they have some of the best belgian-style beers I’ve ever had, Belgian beers from actual Belgium notwithstanding.
So when I went they had an interesting coffee Saison on tap, 1801 Koffee Saison (Saison, 6.5% ABV, 16 IBU). I had to. It’s the one on the left, of course.
I tend to like Farmhouse ales, so I figured I would try this seeing as it’s a blend that I have never seen before. I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed very much this different taste experience.
It has a dark brown color and a great, strong coffee aroma. The flavor is interesting, with the saison tang coming on strong, then having to share space with the bitter notes of a dark roasted coffee.
As a whole, it was definitely a successful trip to Barrel of Monks, one that I know my wife and I will be enjoying repeating once again in the near future. I have to wonder though, as to how big and how dark their beers can actually get.
Maybe I don’t want to know. It’s actually a little frightening.
Drink Florida Craft,