I have a problem. It's a damp problem in my cellar. It isn't a huge issue as you expect cellars to take on a little damp characteristic, but I use my cellar, presently, for little else than storing beer. If a little black mould gets here and there it shouldn't be a problem, unless it can somehow affect the beer. Still, I imagine it can't after looking at many articles about beer.
Super Des Fagnes Christmas has spent nearly two years on my hoard; one year in a cosy upstairs bedroom environment and a further year in a dank, damp cellar. It has finally made it to Beer Advent Calendar 2015 beneath Window Seven.
However, I am torn between a continuous wonder as to whether Belgian yeast sometimes takes on a damp characteristic or whether it is beer somehow infected by its environment.
Super Des Fagnes, incidentally, is a series of beers from Brasserie Des Fagnes in Belgium. I have no further experience with any of their beers apart from their Christmas beer today. We've all learnt something today.
"Oh I wouldn't worry about Peter - you might say the situation is in the bag. Ho Ho Ho."
Brasserie Des Fagnes - Super Des Fagnes Christmas - 8.5%
Dark murky orange brown with little head, the beer smells super rich and fruity, like boozy Christmas pudding if you will pardon the cliché. There's plenty of mince pie aromas including a buttery biscuit base - and something that smells a little like damp in a cellar to ruin the whole thing. The taste is practically the same as the scent, it's big, boozy, port-like with lots of Christmas fruit, rich pudding juices and a touch of brandy. I think this could be a strong, solid, Christmas beer, if it weren't for an underlying problem.
This beer strongly brings about a black mould musk. It isn't an infection I'm used to and only makes me think of my cellar. However, I would be lying if I didn't mention that I've had Belgian yeasty beers before with similar underlying flavour problems after being left for a bit, so I cna't be sure what it is.
So either this is a decent Belgian Christmas Ale that has been left too long. Or I am going to have to drink my entire beer hoard that is ageing before it all becomes a musky, mouldy mess. Who knows?
Mince Pie Pairing Rating: 6/10 - beyond the musk, there are some solid dark fruit flavours brought out.
Best Paired With: A strong blue cheese - is it off? Is it wonderful? Is it to everybody's taste? Nobody is quite sure.