Belgians aren’t known for adding confectionery flavors and other
additives like coffee and chocolate in their beers. That’s what makes
Kasteel Winter a very surprising brew since it’s not the kind of beer
I’d associate with that entire country. And yet, it works as both a
classic Belgian strong dark ale as well as a flavored brew. It’s a
I split a 750ml bottle with my girlfriend (who graciously purchased it
for me for $10.99 [$0.43 per ounce]). I poured it into a Trappist
chalice. It was bottled on 10/6/13.
Appearance: Seemingly opaque black, but actually deep ruby red/brown and
slightly translucent. Pours to a small, off-white, soapy head which
mostly dissipates and leaves little lacing.
Smell: Huge chocolate and coffee aromas, plus rum-like alcohol.
Taste: This is a robust beer if ever there were one. Strong dark
chocolate flavors envelope the tongue right away. It’s a delicious,
authentic, candy-like flavor. It doesn’t taste like simply cocoa powder
or some kind of extract flavoring. There’s a light bitterness through
the middle – somewhat dry with a hint of spice. It quickly morphs into a
sweet iced coffee flavor (with cream and sugar!). The alcohol lingers
in the background; constantly imparting a warmth and a rum-like vanilla
flavor. The classic Belgian yeast esters are also noticeable - they
create for a mild taste of dark fruits and pepper. Overall, this is one
of the most unique Belgian brews I can ever recall having (but not
necessarily the best).
Drinkability: When I saw the 11% ABV on the label, I was prepared for an
intense, peppery sipper, but Kasteel Winter is amazingly drinkable. The
mouthfeel is typical for a strong Belgian brew – highly carbonated, but
not thick or chewy. It’s actually quite comfortable and easy to drink
in larger gulps. The alcohol is noticeable, but tame – creating for a
gentle warmth rather than a brash heat.