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Craft beer review: Val-Dieu Brune 8%

By on July 17, 2015

I’m going to have to start here by saying I have never been a massive fan of Belgian beers, writes Blane McConnell of Munro’s craft beer bar.

I think the problem is two-fold. First, the strong linkages between Belgian beers and the *Lambic style has always been offputting for me since I have never quite been able to “get” Lambics. This association has always given me a mildly dismissive attitude to Belgian beers in general.

Second, the sheer scale of the available Belgian beer leaves you with no idea where to start.

While I may never reconcile my mistrust of Lambic beers, I can at least remedy the second problem by diving in and trying Val-Dieu’s Brune. Hey, an 8% beer seems like a good idea for a re-introduction to Belgian beer….

The Brune pours a murky, muddy brownish colour. After a good whiff, it seems to me to be a mixture of banana and pear drops on the nose, though the fragrance is a little muted. The beer is bottle conditioned, so there was some debris left in the bottle.

The richness of the flavour makes it hard to identify some of the tastes present, though there seems to be a good mix of banana, molasses, brown sugar and some roast, chocolately mild tones in the after-taste which fade into a mild, sour finish.

Interestingly, the sour notes seem to become less pronounced as I progress through the bottle. There persists the “tang” of a high ABV beer, which seems to keep some of the more maverick flavours in check, without itself being overpowering.

In summary, Val-Dieu Brune is a flavoursome dubbel with a lot going on. Admittedly, a novice drinker may find it overpowering because of this.

It is definitely a beer which deserves to be sipped and mulled over, rather than guzzled in the summer heat. Nonetheless, I found it to be pretty well rounded (albeit rather strong for a mid-day review session) with plenty of flavours to please the seasoned beer drinker.

Maybe these Belgians will win me over yet …

Val-Dieu Brune 8% – tasting courtesy of Hippo Beers on Queen Margaret Drive

* Lambic bewing is an ancient, very basic approach involving wild yeast and bacteria in open vats, before being matured in wooden barrels for many years.

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