S & M Brewing Heilige Nacht

Belgian Strong Ale, 12% ABV, 31.8 IBU.

DISCLAIMER: I opened this bottle by mistake. The brewers instructed me not to taste this beer before 2020, but I completely forgot about that. In other words, the beer that I tasted was not the final product! Please keep that in mind when reading this rating.

Heilige Nacht. Yet another reason not to be religious.

It’s quite much darker than De Dolle Stille Nacht, right?

I know for a fact that at least half of S & M brewing is a huge fan of De Dolle Stille Nacht, so a tribute to this ale was to be expected.

In the glass it has a cloudy, deep amber colour, with a frothy, beige, short-lived head that leaves virtually no lacing on my glass.

The aroma is strong and far too dominated by stinging and rough alcohol. Fair enough, this is a big beer, but even a 12% ABV brew shouldn’t smell this boozy. I also get a generic fruitiness and somewhat unclean yeasty notes. In the back I find caramel, honey, dark dried fruits and spices.

In the mouth the alcohol really kicks in! I’ve never had a beer remotely close to being this absurdly alcoholic and insanely stinging and sharp! Fortunately there are other elements here as well, behind the wall of alcohol, and if not exactly saving this brew they prevent it from being a total disaster: dark dried fruits, caramel, sugar and honey. Actually lots of honey, in such a degree that this creation tastes more like a braggot than some braggots I’ve had.

The mouthfeel isn’t too bad (ignoring that it’s close to undrinkable due to the stinging alcohol): full body, oily texture and soft carbonation.

Naturally I didn’t manage to finish the bottle, I had to have a more gentle drink. So I poured me a Laphroaig instead. And I swear to Dog, even after a few sips of this peaty single malt, the Heilage Nacht still felt violent and boozy in comparison!

Conclusion: “A beer suitable for Christmas or for long-term aging”. I’ll go for the latter. Maybe it’s possible to drink in a decade or two.

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      4/10
Palate:     2/5
Overall:    7/20
Ratebeer score: 2.2/5.0
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Meilby Brewing Pain Killer

Pain Killer by Meilby Brewing, Belgian Strong Ale, 11% ABV, 37 IBU.

Pours a rather dark golden body that is ever so slightly hazy, and that’s topped with a large, white, long-lived head that laces the glass well.

Meilby Brewing Pain Killer, batch #016

Meilby Brewing Pain Killer, batch #016

The aroma is strong, sweet and crisp, this is like a saison-ish tripel: it’s got the crispy acidity of a saison and the thick sugary spicy sweetness of a tripel! Nice! I get quite strong notes of fruits, citrus and even some vague banana in the back, yeast and spices. The aroma has a pleasant vinous feel.

Almost a year in the bottle wasn't long enough to mellow out the alcohol.

Almost a year in the bottle wasn’t long enough to mellow out the alcohol.

The taste is moderate sweet and moderate bitter. The flavours are utterly and completely dominated by harsh, stinging and tongue numbing notes of alcohol. Never has «well hidden alcohol» been further from the truth! Luckily there are also some quite nice fruity notes and sweet sugary elements in front, but the mid-palate and the finish are more or less ruined by the alcohol. In the late aftertaste some lovely yeasty notes manage to push away the alcohol, and this really save the Taste rating. The body is full, the texture is oily and the carbonation is soft, so if it hadn’t been for the violent alcohol the mouthfeel could have been very pleasant.

Conclusion: some nice elements both in the aroma and the flavours, but the unusually unpleasant alcohol notes makes this brew close to undrinkable.

Aroma:      7
Appearance: 4
Taste:      6
Palate:     1
Overall:   10
Ratebeer score: 2.8


Landstads mikromicrobryggeri Kristale

Kristale by Landstads mikromicrobryggeri, Belgian Strong Ale (?), ABV and IBU: unknown

This is not a Kristlager, its a Kristale. Well well.

This mysterious bottle arrived in my mailbox the other day. I know close to nothing about the beer or the brewer, other than that the bottle is mislabelled (it’s a Kristale, not a Kristlager), and that the brewer is a friend of fellow ratebeerian Cunningham. So, a real blind rating! This will show the world what an experienced rater I am, or, more likely, turn out to be a bit embarrassing for me…

I pour the contents into my glass, and note that the body has that homebrew look: a bit dirty-looking, cloudy and medium brown. The head is creamy, light-brown and very long-lived, it never reduces beyond a decent sized layer and the mandatory build-up at the walls of the glass. A quite ok amount of lacing.

The aroma is quite strong, one of the strongest aromas I’ve encountered on my journey into homebrew land so far! Being strong is of course only a good thing if the aroma actually is nice, and that is certainly the case for the Kristale. It starts out with pale malts, soon followed by hoppy notes with lots of fruits and finally very sweet caramel escapes the glass. The overall feel of the aroma is sweet, very sweet, but in a very inviting way. I get bubble gum, candy, overripe bananas, Dumle(!), yeast and a lovely vinous touch in the back. So far I’m very confused when it comes to the beer style, there are some many elements fighting for my attention!

The taste is moderate sweet with a very light bitterness and a very faint hint of acidity. I’m a hophead and usually I’m not a big fan of beers that are totally ruled by sweetness, but the sweetness of this one is really, really pleasant. It’s also a perfect fit with the sweet aroma and the flavours. The intensity of the flavours are a tad weaker than the aroma led me to hope for, but still quite impressive stuff: the caramel is there from the very start and far into the long-lasting aftertaste, hand in hand with spices and yeast. It’s Belgian yeast, right? I also get lots of sweet, ripe fruits, sweet honey, perfume, candi sugar and some vinous notes. I realise that I repeat the word “sweet” a lot, but again, this is a highly pleasant sweetness, there is nothing cloying in here.

The mouthfeel suffers a bit from The Curse of the Homebrewers, i.e. some unclean yeasty notes that also give a too chalky dry finish. Apart from that it’s quite pleasant, with a medium body, dry texture and soft carbonation.

So, let’s say that this is a Belgian Strong Ale? According to my slightly dizzy head right now I’d say that the ABV is approximately 7.5 % (but the dizziness may also be due to the fact that this is a very warm day and I’ve been bicycling 25 km).

Long-lasting head.

Conclusion: a very tasty beer with wonderful aroma and flavours. Despite the dominant sweetness it’s highly drinkable. A bit dirty-looking and too much mouthdrying yeast, but still a high quality beer!

Aroma:      7
Appearance: 3
Taste:      7
Palate:     3
Overall:   14
Ratebeer score: 3.4