Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tsjeeses (2010 vintage)

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (1070) - Albany, New York, USA - MAR 25, 2014
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. 
Grade: 6/10

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