Points for trying

German brewery / makes Belgian abbey dubbel / not half bad, at that. There you go, haiku #1…don’t worry,  they’ll get better.(wait…is “belgian” two syllables or three?)I reviewed this from a bottle back in November, for beeradvocate.com, gave it a 4.05 (out of 5). But for this site, I feel I should do it fresh and stay in the game, so I stopped in at McKenzie’s last night to taste it on tap. A 20 oz pint for $4.25 during happy hour.Didn’t like it as much this time. Poured a clear, deep garnet hue, with small head, very sweet nose, flavors of dark fruit and light spice, turning dry and peppery.Mix of the same continues in the taste, berries match cocoa powder, rounding out dry and balanced, with easy drinkability.However, the body is too light, and there’s just not enough meat on this dog’s bones to really do justice to the style. I love dubbels, consider them my favorite style of beer, and would rank Ommegang, Westmalle, & St. Bernardus  as the top for me. This version falls among the lower tiers, sorry to say. I’d like this darker, as well, and without the syrupy sweetness that pops in from time to time.  Still, props to this old, tradition-bound brewery for giving it a go! Who knows what’s up next from them? 

Dubbel delivers on promise.

I read that it is supposed to be a belgian dubbel in style I really think it delivers on that promise.  If you know what a dubbel is, you expect big malt flavors, a thickish mouth-feel and then fruity estery flavors from the yeast.  So I was expecting a sweet, fruity strong beer that coated my mouth and got it.  I like this beer, maybe I am forgiving, since no one else around here makes a dubbel, I have not compared it to my favorite in the style: St. Bernardus Pater 6.   This one probably will not impress macro-lager drinkers, or the hop heads, but on a cold day, a strong malty brew like this is nice. 

A fresh, local dubbel…

If you’re familiar with Schell’s Snowstorm, you may know that the style changes yearly… last year’s Snowstorm was a London stout (which, incidentally, will be re-appearing as their latest year-round beer, Schell’s Stout) and the year before they offered up an altbier.

This year’s Snowstorm pours into the glass with a nice ruby/mahogany color and a slight, creamy head. The aroma reminds me of dark fruit, brown sugar and caramel. More of the same flavors come through in the taste and the Belgian yeast really comes through as well.

Belgian beers are a bit of an acquired taste and I think Schell’s did a good job of making a tasty dubbel that is also palatable for folks whose most adventurous experiences with a darker beer beers are Newcastle, Moose Drool and Guinness. The yeast character is more subtle than other dubbels and it lacks some of the stronger dark candy sugar elements of other dubbels, but it’s still a really tasty, easy-drinking beer. Kudos to the oldest family-run brewery in the state for another gem.

mildly surprised

Sometime in autumn, the cold trips a switch in my body and I suddenly want cookies, cake, pie and darker, heavier, sweeter beer. Generally speaking, hoppy pale ales, lawnmower beers and tripels are out. Barley wines, imperial stouts, porters and dubbels are in.

A beer like this Snowstorm is what I want when it’s cold outside. It’s not the best dubbel I’ve ever had, but the flavor is there and the body is almost there. It tastes, looks and feels like a fairly typical dubbel. As it warms up, it’s getting better.

I don’t mind Schell beers, but I don’t often buy them. I would have been really surprised that I like a Schell’s offering as much as I do if I hadn’t read that others were surprised by how good it is.