On the docket: 750 mL cork and cage bottle of Brouwerij Het Anker’s Cuvée Van De Keizer Blauw (Blue) bottled: 2/24/2012
Poured into: Hand-washed Maredsous stemmed goblet
S: A luxurious raisin-brown body sits beneath a beige head that builds, then dies. Some soapish suds hang around, plus a round bubble-peninsula formed on one side of the goblet. Lacing left is thin and very delicate.
A: A date-lover’s dream. Rich aroma of dark fruit, fig, dates. Plums. Subtle spicy phenols, and tell-tale fruity yeast esters (plus a small hint of bubblegum). A bouquet fit for a king (or an emperor). The hops here are quite muted at the outset. The alcohol too, is well integrated into the beer, as I can’t detect from sniffing this beauty that it’s 11% abv.
T: Oh. My. God. Dark notes of molasses, Belgian candi-sugar, bittersweet chocolate. Fruit overtures of… is that raspberry? A slightly tart and medicinal cherry. Plums. Dates and figs bow to the tongue. This guy also contains port notes (not to be confused with Portnoy- an emperor in his own right). Hey, don’t forget the light impression of leather and tobacco– that one takes a bit to show up, but it’s there. Call me a joker, but I also get a little bit of soy sauce and yeah, I’ll go there- umami. Just a hint of bitterness and astringency, but in a pleasant way.
F: I don’t say this often about mouthfeel, but this beer has it all. It possesses great carbonation, especially on the roof of the mouth. Slick and regal, and at the same time, made deceptively light due to the aforementioned carbonation. It’s got a long finish, and this is where the alcohol is most present. Give it a few seconds. A rampant lion, that booze.
O: This Belgian Strong Dark is more than capable of expanding his empire into your mouth and subjugating your senses. However, this is more of a friendly annexation, not a hostile-takeover. Though I’m not truly an expert (in my head I am), I’d say it’s fair to theorize that an older bottle might have more port, and a younger bottle feels a bit hotter in the alcohol department. 4 years? Perfect. Though this is not Chimay Grand Reserve, this is truly a regal libation. I could drink this for days, but it would pull me under.
S: 4 A: 4.25 T: 4.75 F: 4.5 O: 4.5
Suggested food pairing: Korean beef barbecue, creamy and pungent cheese, fruit cakes, candied fruit