Witches Brew – Brouwerij Van Steenberge (Belgium)

Witches Brew (Belgian Tripel) – Brouwerij Van Steenberge, 9.3% ABV – 750 ml., (Ertvelde, Belgium)

(from the brewers of the iconic Gulden Draak and Piraat)


on the back label:

Enjoy this bottle conditioned blond triple living ale. Its pleasant hoppyness is masterly balanced with a soft round and joyous sweetness, enveloped in a radiating glow.

It will put a spell on you!”

(back)



Visual: (cellared for 6 years). Twisty steel cap with composite cork. Pours translucent dirty copper orange with a large 1 inch frothy head, sticky lacing, a fine layer of micro retention, clusters of micro steady streams. Suspended bits of sediment along with some black bits, likely from the cork.

Nose: honey-chamomile sweet malt, hints of apple (lvl-8)-pungency

Attack: crisp-tingly-full

Mid-palate: alcoholic heavy, sticky (lvl-7-sweetness), honey barley malt, chamomile, background subtle tangy

Finish: apple-honey exhale, residual weighty alcohol

Summary: A decent, heavy-hitting tripel, but after one glass the alcohol becomes too overbearing and the sugars overpowering the palate. Can’t say I loved it, but I can sense the quality of craftsmanship.

Gulden Draak Vintage Ale 2011 – Brouwerij Van Steenberge (Belgium)

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Gulden Draak Vintage Ale 2011 – Brouwerij Van Steenberge, 7.5% ABV, 33cl, (Belgium)

-cellared for 5 years!


  • Style: Belgian Strong Ale
  • Taste: Toasted dark fruity molasses barley malt smooooooth
  • Where I got it : Legacy Liquor / Vancouver
  • How much: $4 (after 10% off) – 33cl., December 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: 60/40, a pretty standard quality BSA from Belgium

Visual: Pours dark mahogany brown, minimal head, a thin layer of micro retention, scattered slow micro streams.

Nose: dark fruit cake, molasses, sweet caramel malts. (lvl-8)-pungency

Attack: crisp, fizzy-tingly

Mid-palate: (lvl-6)-sweetness, integrated background sourness, (MAIN) cola, bright fruity berry-molasses mixture, nutmeg, thick sweet toasted barley malt

Finish: a bit of alcoholic heat, sweet barley grainy malt finish.

Summary: Another winner like their original Gulden Draak (B+). Great balance and superbly sippable.

Piraat 10.5% – Van Steenberge (Ertvelde, Belgium)

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Piraat 10.5% – Van Steenberge, 10.5% ABV, 33cl., (Ertvelde, Belgium)

  • Style: Belgian Strong Ale
  • Taste: Alcoholic full-bodied heavy spiced tropical fruity honeyed malt
  • Where I got it : Firefly Liquor Store (Van)
  • How much: $4 (after 10% off) – 33cl., January 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yep

Visual: This is the heavier 10.5% ABV bigger brother version. Pours golden-orange with a massive long-lasting super creamy beautiful large head, clusters of steady streams.

Nose: orange citrus, orange blossom, sweet honeyed malts (lvl-4)-pungency

Attack: incoming heaviness

Mid-palate: warm alcohol detection, palate heavy, (lvl-6)-sweetness, (MAIN) thick honeyed malts, biscuit, rum spices, tropical fruit (pineapple-guava)

Finish: mild alcohol bitterness, residual warmth, spiced honey exhale, super soft hopped boozy finish.

Summary: So Strong!!! Fuller and more flavourful than the 9.5% I reviewed earlier. Get this one instead, if you can handle heavy beers.

Piraat 9% – Van Steenberge (Belgium)

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Piraat 9% – Van Steenberge, 9% ABV, 33cl., (Ertvelde, Belgium)

  • Style: Belgian Strong Ale
  • Taste: Honeyed barley citrus malt alcoholic palate-heavy
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $3.50 – 33cl., January 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: decent but not wicked

Visual: The 9% ABV (as opposed to 10.5%) little brother version. Pours almost clear marmalade orange with a large lasting super foamy head, thick lacing & retention, lots and lots of clustered streams.

Nose: sweet barley malt mixed with bright honeyed citrus, hints of florals. (lvl-3)-pungency

Attack: subdued alcohol + incoming honey sweetness

Mid-palate: weightiness, fizzy-tingly mouthfeel, (lvl-6)-sweetness, (MAIN) barley malts, honey, citrus

Finish: light alcoholic warmth + mild alcohol bitterness, subtle bitter hopped, lingering barley malty sweet finish.

Summary: Shockingly easy to drink at first but becomes palate-tiring halfway through. Full-bodied with medium complexity. Not too exciting but solid.

Gulden Draak – Brouwerij Van Steenberge (Belgium)

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  • My Rating: B+

Gulden Draak – Brouwerij Van Steenberge, 10.5% ABV – 330ml., (Belgium

from ratebeer.com:

“Gulden Draak is a high fermentation beer with secondary fermentation. For the secondary fermentation, wine yeast is used. The white bottle, the black banner, the golden dragon and the red letters, constitute a stylish result that has no equal among the many Belgian special beers. Gulden Draak can be drunk as an aperitif or dessert, or whenever you have the time to sit back and relax. But this barley wine is also perfect with and in stews, especially the Ghent variety. It is also a plus in sauces for red meat, such as a bordelaise. It is particularly suited as a dessert beer, especially in combination with dark chocolate.”

  • Style: Belgian Strong Ale
  • Taste: Malty brown-sugar berry alcoholic
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $3.60 – 330ml., May 2014
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: Distinct white plastic wrapped label on the bottle, it sure stands out from the rest. Pours virtually clear maple syrup brown with a huge lasting creamy head, lots of tight active stream, micro bubbles.

Nose: med-high depth malts with brown sugar (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: fizzy crisp

Mid-palate: (lvl-7)-sweetness, (MAIN) dense malts, alcohol, brown sugar, berry-like sweetness

Finish: alcoholic kick, malty sweet finish.

Summary: It should come with a warning label, so dangerously smooth for a 10.5%. Highly drinkable.

Celis White (Belgium)

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  • My Rating: B-

Celis White – Brouwerij Van Steenberge, 5% ABV – 25cl, (Belgium)

On the back label:

“This wheatbeer, developed by the CELIS BREWERY (Austin, Texas), combines the 500 year old brewing art of Hoegaarden (Belgium) with the modern brewing techniques.”

interesting tidbit from ratebeer.com:

“Pierre Celis created the original Hoegaarden beer in the early 1960’s. Interbrew-Labatt bought the brand and the brewery in the 1980’s. Pierre Celis formed a new brewery in Austin Texas, brewing the same beer but under the brand name Celis White. Miller bought the Celis brewery and the Celis White brand-name in 1996. The brewery closed in 2000. In late 2002 Michigan Brewing bought the Celis White brand from Miller. Brouwerij Van Steenberge is now brewing the original Pierre Celis White under the brand-name Celis White in Europe and Ertveld’s Wit in North America.”

  • Style: Witbier (Wheat Ale)
  • Taste Profile: fizzy dry wheat -> wheat malts/lemon/sour yeast -> banana/light hopped finish.
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $4, Sometime 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: nah
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: sure

Tasting notes: pours cloudy yellow-orange with minimal head, some lacing , thin ringed retention, some activity. A bit of sour yeast on the nose.

Attack: mildly fizzy dry wheat

Mid-palate: wheaty malts, light lemon citrus, sour yeast

Finish: mild banana with just a light hit of hops

A very clean and refreshing beer. Too bad it’s only 250ml as it drinks so darn easy.

Augustijn, (Ertvelde, Belgium)

Which I like better: Augustijn Grand Cru

1) Blonde, 7% ABV

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B+
  • Why I like it: thirst quenching-orange soda
  • Where I got it: Brewery Creek
  • How much: ~$4, 330ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: Unlikely
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Def Yes

Tasting Notes: pours pure cloudy orange, very nice thick foamy head, thick retention, sticky lacing, active CO2 streams but not as many as the Grand cru. A bit of malty orange on the nose. 1st few sips were extremely thirst quenching. Tastes of orange jam, 7/10-sweetness malts, apples, semi-sweet lingering bitter finish. It gets progressively sweeter as the beer warms. Medium complexity, medium depth, good carry, good transitions, very nice drinkability. Not as complex as the Grand Cru and also needs to drunk in a chilled glass asap before it warms and becomes way too sweet.

2) Grand Cru, 9% ABV

My Notes:

  • My Rating: A-
  • Why I like it: apricot/lemon fruity drinkability
  • Where I got it: Brewery Creek
  • How much: ~$4, 330ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: Unlikely
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes: pours golden amber, nice thick foamy head, thick retention, sticky lacing, very active clustered CO2 streams. A bit of peach on the nose. Smooth creamy 5/10 sweetness up front, 4/10-bitterness malts in the mids, apricot, bitter lemon, ultra clean mouthfeel, dry bitter slightly hoppy finish. Alcohol is well masked though detectable. Medium complexity, medium-high depth, long length, great carry, excellent transitions, fabulous drinkability. A winner here.