Unless you have been living under a rock, are underage or are a practicing Muslim, you have probably heard of Newcastle Brown Ale. Definitely a quality beer which I got a chance to have a cup of at Eat. Drink. Cook. Live. I am not going to bore you with a review of Newcastle.
At the same booth as Newcastle was another beer: Grimbergen. It wasn’t a beer I was familiar with at all, so of course I was eager to try it. As it was the end of the day and I had been sipping booze and stuffing my face with tasty foods all day long, I recalled it was a good beer, but couldn’t really pinpoint why I thought that. I just remembered that I liked it. Thus began my mission.
I finally tracked down Grimbergen at my local Whole Foods. I was really in luck since the beer had arrived earlier that day and wasn’t even out in the case yet. Fortunately, the guy who helped me had also been in the back earlier going through the new inventory. I took home a six-pack to have an accurate idea of what the beer tasted like so I could fill ya’ll in on it.
The packaging is nothing too special (though the old style label is a bit reminiscent of the Gryffindor House Logo in Harry Potter, despite being a phoenix. Maybe it is because of the colors. But don’t let that discourage you. The packaging speaks to the history of Grimbergen, which is close to 900 years old. It is a is a certified Belgian Abbey Beer.
I got the chance to drink the Double (as in double fermented) with some friends. I believe the Double is currently the only one coming in a bottle right now or maybe I have that backwards. Maybe it is the only one that is also available on tap. I will have to doublecheck. One of my tasting colleagues was not a big “dark beer” drinker the other prefers dark beers. Me, I just like beer. I figured we had a nice cross section to judge from.
Let me start off by telling you that if you drink Grimbergen like you drink regular beer, you are going to get drunk, and fast. The Double has 6.5% alcohol content compared with the usual 5% you are used to. You would think that this would give it more of an alcoholic taste, but it is surprisingly smooth, almost sweet.
It is a great full-bodied beer, but unlike other dark beers it’s not at all bitter or heavy. The fan of dark beers tasted some fruity undertones to it, and I thought it had a great taste that hinted at an almost malty flavor, but which was not at all overpowering. Other terms that were thrown around included “smooth,” “full bodied,” and “hearty” (but not heavy).
We were all big fans and thought it was best described as a great tasting porter (though a bit lighter then your typical porter).
Another nice surprise was that as our cold beer started to warm it didn’t affect the taste, at least not in a negative way. The beer was great to sit around and drink with some friends, it tasted great, and we were all in agreement that it was an excellent beer, and definitely something to keep an eye out for at the bar or at the supermarket.
And since it was going for the same price as a six-pack of Heineken, it’s an easy choice that isn’t too hard on the wallet, either. Oh, and it comes in other varieties, as well, so keep an eye out for those, too.