Thursday, December 19, 2013

Corsendonk Christmas Ale (2013 re-review)

4.5
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (1025) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 19, 2013
I poured an 11.2oz bottle into a Trappist chalice. It had a best before date of 9/21/14 and cost $5.99 ($0.53 per ounce).

Appearance: Beautiful ruby rue hue. Dark, but transparent with plenty of visible carbonation. Pours to a large, off white, foamy head which laces and retains extremely well.

Smell: The epitome of the Belgian strong dark ale: all the yeast esters with a strong scent of fruit and a hint of perfume.

Taste: I first had Corsendonk Christmas Ale back in 2008 and even though I never had a beer like that before, I still enjoyed it. It’s been five years since then and my palate has obviously grown over that time. When I took my first sip of the 2013 edition I was floored by how delicious the beer was. Though it wasn’t exactly as I remember, I can honestly say it was better.

This seems to be brewed in the Belgian Dubbel or Belgian Strong Dark Ale (aka "quad") style as it has all the characteristics of those types of beers without any additional spices. The Belgian yeast esters are quite strong and have profound effect on the taste, though the malt base and the candy syrup probably has a lot to do with it, too. Huge notes of raisins, plums, figs, cherry and an assortment of dark fruit are prominent right away. They continue throughout the first half of the swig and then are complemented by an even stronger, sweeter taste of caramel and toffee with even a touch of dark chocolate right as it finishes. That could be due to a bit of roasted malt along with a touch of hops. There’s a slightly spicy, lightly dry aftertaste from the yeast, though it fades (maybe a bit too quickly, actually). Overall, this is a delicious Belgian beer that doesn’t need to be confined just to the holiday season.

Drinkability: I remember the intensity of the mouthfeel being super spastic back in 2008. Today, it’s surprisingly calm and tame. I’ve certainly had stronger, more intense Belgians of the style, but Corsendonk Christmas Ale is remarkably drinker-friendly for what it is. The mouthfeel is full and soft with noticeable energy, but is in no way uncomfortable. In fact, it’s surprisingly smooth and the 8.1% ABV feels lighter than it is. A subtle touch of alcohol warmth, but it works perfectly here. 
Grade: 10/10

NOTE: Read and watch my review of the 2008 edition here: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2008/12/corsendonk-christmas-ale-chadz-beer.html