As part of Duvel Moortgat, the beer of the Maredsous Abbey forms that interesting choice between being big enough for "craftier" idiots to think they can ignore, but too important for serious enthusiasts to ignore.
The Maredsous beers are one of those groups I will personally tell the newer beer geeks ("kids") that they have had to have experienced before they can even talk beer with me. You don't discover classics like this after craft. Still, having said that, I haven't drunk tonight's Advent Calendar beer - Maredsous Brune 8 - in nearly 7 years and have little memory of its taste, so my beer hypocrisy continues.
Maredsous Brune 8 is one of several beers that are included in this year's calendar that might not seem Christmas themed or based, but qualify under the criteria as its original incarnations were brewed especially for Christmas. Ergo, Maredsous Brune is definitely a Christmas beer.
These days it is churned out for fun, under its new guise as the brewery Dubbel, between its Blond and Tripel.
I managed to fit Window Four into a brief window of opportunity on Friday, but a hectic weekend caused the delay in the post. Apologies.
"The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear."
Maredsous Biére d'Abbaye - Brune 8%
This beer pours a lovely burnt auburn colour with big frothy head. The nose isn't huge - it's soft, dark fruits, like raisins and plums, at the front with a berry sweetness. All the flavour comes through the taste with brown sugar, prunes and a sherry alcohol sweetness. It's all held together with a big Belgian yeast character that is honey-like. This isn't a complex beer. Its like a supermarket mince pie - it's familiar, reassuring, solid and performs the job. It has all the rounded edges of a macro-produced, consistent beer. It doesn't demand complexity above solidity. Yet, there is a romantic edge to this drink that makes you think of history, heritage and that beautiful abbey where it was birthed. The flavours are consistent without changing by the time this beer ends.
Like many of the darker Belgian beers, it makes me long for the streets of Ghent in winter, paired with some warm bloedworst and with images of St. Nicholas from every window. Once again, the beer is more emotive than flavoursome.
Mince Pie Pairing Rating: 10/10 - this is a Mince Pie
Best Paired with: A playlist of a choral choir singing Christmas carols. Heritage is best.