I wanted La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux 7.3% (2012) for last year's Advent calendar but never came round to purchasing it. Eleven months on, seeing that it was still in stock in Beers of Europe, I decided the time had come to add it to this year's, knowing that it had time to age and develop. The large, 75cl bottle, and delightful artwork intrigued me. I'll admit that this beer's brewery, the Artisanal Brasserie de Rulles from the Luxembourg province of Belgium's Walloon region, is a new one to me. Research shows that brewery only opened in 2000 and this beer has only been brewed since 2005. Too young, perhaps, to have reached these shores frequently and earned famous stature. Still, a Belgian Strong Ale brewed in the Christmas ale tradition should be right up my street.
"I'm sure you're hiding something hot
You want to give to me
And not another pair of socks
From underneath the tree"
A deep Byzantium purple pours delightfully with thick, frothy off-white head. It smells of surprisingly little; a hint of dried fruits, black forest gateau and quite a citrus hop undertone. The taste is that dry sherry mouthfeel and flavour I'm accustomed to in the Belgian Christmas classics, such as Gouden Carolus. As the beer sits and warms there's a lot more character and complexity developing with the sweet plums and warmed cherries becoming apparent over that sherry style sweetness. There's a good body to this beer that grabs you, but demands more tongue dancing the stage it presents deserves. The finish is a short finale, where you call for an Encore only to find the show is definitely over. I want to like this more than I do. I want it to pack in a bit more flavour. It really is a very good beer. It's just not excellent. Perhaps it would benefit from further age, although it has already had a year.
Purchased from Beers of Europe, October 2013
Drank alongside, a chocolate holly leaf and chocolate angel, two figures who signify the life in Winter and the incredulous belief in flying, gown-wearing secretaries.