Whenever you see a bottle of Belgian beer with a strong ABV you tend to
expect greatness. I’d heard good things about Piraat Belgian Ale, that
it was the Belgian equivalent of an imperial IPA. But drinking it, it’s
not all that much different or better than Duvel. Not that it’s a bad
beer at all, but one that’s only just plain good.
Appearance: Dark orange hue, extremely hazy. Forms a large, white,
fluffy soapy head which retains and laces the glass wonderfully.
Smell: Light bananas, slight citrus notes and a strong alcohol presence similar to spiced rum.
Taste: Only sip into Piraat Belgian Ale could I tell it was definitely
not an IPA by any means. Well, at least not by American standards. It’s
similar to a long list of Belgian strong pale ales but without the
zestiness or floral character of a saison or the spiciness of a tripel.
It’s a rather simple, direct palate with malty sweetness up front and
strong alcohol on the back end. There’s a quick bitter sensation at the
apex of the palate, but it’s far too weak to truly be considered in the
The alcohol places a crucial role here, imparting a slight rum flavor
with hints of vanilla and oak. It’s almost more of a confectionery,
candy sweetness than raw malty flavor. There’s a slight banana taste
right on the finish and in the aftertaste which is nice, but not enough
to make the beer anywhere approaching world class. The same palate with a
lighter body would greatly improve this beer.
Drinkability: I was genuinely surprised by how drinkable Piraat Belgian
Ale is. Though overtly boozy, the mouthfeel is surprisingly calm and
thinner than you’d expect. The aftertaste is rather clean, too, and the
low carbonation enables a smooth finish. The 10.5% ABV does make its
presence known, and quickly at that. It’s a big beer that’s easy to
throw back, but will overwhelm you quickly.