I love a good 18D. Perhaps I should explain myself. 18D is the BJCP style guidelines for a Belgian Golden Strong Ale. One might think of these beers as imperial Pilsners fermented with ester producing yeast strains. It is wonderful when a simple brew using mostly pale/Pilsner malts, some simple sugars and noble hops create such a flavourful beverage with deceptive strength. When one things of a 18D, there is only one example: Duvel. The aroma has depth of light fruits, spices and oddly no alcohol. Each sip carries on where the nose left off with an additional effervescence and subtle warmth. So how did the Barque stand up to this world renowned beer.
Barque = 9/10
Everything started from the moment the cap hit the floor. Sadly the initial fruitiness faded to reveal an unassuming nose of moderated spices, dry yeast and mushy bread. Things got real with the sip. It was Duvel, everything was there; the soft chewy bready, the abundance of pears, lemons and apricot baby food. But something else was riding on this creamy, effervescent flavour wave. It must be the south side Wai-iti hops with their lemon and orange zip. Sadly the ending was too clean. Stellar, certainly a contented for Victoria beer of the year.
Alcohol Content +1 8.2%
Appearance +1 (Nice label art but I wish there was some tasting notes on the label)
Glassware: Duvel glass. Only a Duvel glass. Most certainly a Duvel art glass.
Food Pairings: With spicy and calm sweet flavours, this beer is a must with a spicy pasta dish. I'm thinking about a simple pesto - heavy with garlic - topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Thai food is a lime presence would bring out the citrus in the Barque. Try it with dessert of key lime pie.
Cellar: Duvel has been known to improve with age. This might just do the same. It is surprisingly well priced for the quality, I plan to put a few down.