Beer nerds tend to fawn over the Trappist beers, but perhaps we should
be paying more attention to the other Belgian "Abbey-style" beers, like
Augustijn Dark. Just because it’s not made by monks doesn’t mean it’s
not as authentic or as flavorful. In fact, I think I like this beer a
little better than some of the monks’ brews.
I poured an 11.2oz bottle into a Trappist chalice.
Appearance: Dark opaque burgundy/maroon hue. Forms a small, yellowish,
soapy head which mostly fizzles away and leaves minute lacing.
Smell: Classic dark Abbey ale nose of dark fruits with hints of tartness. No alcohol presence.
Taste: The Belgian Dubbel is indeed a distinct style and differs from
the catch-all "Belgian Strong Dark Ale." I haven’t had one of these in a
while, so Augustijn Dark was a nice callback to what I’d been missing.
Instead of spastic energy and sourness, this beer takes a bit more
mellow path in its delivery. The basic flavors are there: black cherry,
fig, plum, raisin, but there’s a noticeable candy-like sweetness through
the middle, especially that of caramel. The backend finishes with some
notes of honey roasted peanuts and maybe a hint of smoke and still
manages to leave a pretty clean aftertaste. The bitterness is mild and
short-lived, but strong enough to notice and keep the palate balanced.
With the right food or cheese (or situation) pairing, I could see this
beer being pretty amazing.
Drinkability: What separates this beer from many other Belgian Dubbels
is how surprisingly drinkable it is. Belgian yeast tend to make the beer
very effervescent, super crispy and difficult to drink in large sips.
In the case of Augustijn Dark it’s remarkably calm with a thinner
mouthfeel but still manages to be full in body. It goes down super
smooth and might even be refreshing while it’s in the mouth. It wouldn’t
seem to be the big 8% ABV that it is, which makes the drinkability all
the more impressive.