I poured an 11.2oz bottle into a chalice. It appears to have been bottled in 2010 and cost $3 ($0.27 per ounce).
Appearance: Initially a beautiful shade of red, but is quickly obscured
by massive yeast sediment. Eventually looks murky and brown. Pours to a
small, yellowish, soapy head which almost completely fizzles away.
Smell: Minor cherry aroma, but overall slightly stale and smoky with a strong presence of alcohol.
Taste: Usually, a complex Belgian Christmas beer is the best kind of
beer for aging, but Tsjeeses doesn’t seem to be the best example.
Clearly, the bottle I’m reviewing peaked a while ago, which is a shame
because I can tell deep down there’s a great brew here. This vintage is
complex, but flawed.
Like any good Belgian strong dark ale, there’s subtlety to be
appreciated here. Flavors of cherry, plum and fig linger in the palette
(what’s left of them, at least). It’s not quite as robust or delectable
as some of the better examples of the style. The alcohol is prominent,
but not harsh or hot. There’s a consistent dry bitterness from start to
finish with an mixture of astringent smokiness and dark chocolate on the
finish. It’s an odd combination of candy and tobacco – most likely due
to oxygenation and/or poor storage over the last four years. Still, I
can put aside the flaws and concentrate on the genuine beer flavors and
find Tsjeeses to be tasty and interesting. A fresh bottle would probably
be a much better experience.
Drinkability: Big Belgian brews tend to be just that – big. Tsjeeses
isn’t nearly as imposing as its 10% ABV weight would leave you to
believe. While the alcohol does create for a consistent, though gentle,
warming sensation, it’s not distracting. The delivery is a bit
underwhelming as the mouthfeel is thin, nearly flat, and has a slickness
to the texture. The astringency on the finish takes some getting used
to, and there’s minor dryness on the aftertaste. Not quite a sipper, but
not exactly an easy drink.