Tag Archives: abbey

Thursday night’s review of an awesome Xmas present – DUVEL GLASS

Readers of prior beer related posts on this blog will know that one of the best Xmas presents I was given this year was an official Leffe Glass/Chalice. This glass was purchased for me by my sister on a trip to Belgium with her boyfriend James.

What remains hitherto undisclosed is that I was given another just-as-cool beer glass over the Xmas period by my girlfriend’s father. The purchasing of the glass took place on a trip to Avignon’s Auchan supermarket detailed previously in this post. At the front of the store there was a section selling various beer brand’s Xmas gift boxes – generally these contained a few bottles and a glass…

I have been a fan of Belgium’s ‘Devil’ golden ale Duvel since enjoying a few while watching the 2010 Champions League final at a bar in Lyon. I have been buying Duvel in the UK at my local Tesco ever since, however I have always lacked an appropriate glass from which to appreciate it. So when it came down to making a decision on which Xmas gift pack to pick-up there was only one choice.

This is a pic of the gift-pack. I swapped out one of the Duvels for a bottle of Vietnamese Chilli Sauce for safer carriage home.

The Duvel glass is definitely a goblet – with a short stem and deep, wide bowl that tapers in then fans out at the top. It has room for around 500ml I would say – this is required as a well poured Duvel will have a very decent sized head to it.

I really think the golden Duvel logo on the front of the goblet is a touch of class too – I have subjected it to numerous dish-washings now and it has not lost its luster at all.

Here's a good look at the glass with it's shiny gold logo ^^

The cool thing about the carboard packaging of the Duvel gift-set was that it had instructions of how to poor the perfect Duvel: Tilt the glass towards the bottle neck and poor in the liquid slowly. As your pour raise the bottle away from the glass – this creates a nice even head. You should aim for the head of the beer to start roughly half-way up the golden Duvel logo (so it’s not just there for show^^). Visually this creates what looks like a 50/50 split between head and beer but as the bottom of the glass is wider there is actually more liquid than it seems.

I would say that's a perfect head to liquid ratio ^^ thank you, thank you

As you drink the Duvel the head slowly melts into creamy patches stacked up where the goblet tapers.

The amount of liquid the glass can take and its thin stem means that it has a satisfying heft and great hand-feel. Watching the golden ale bubble away in the cauldron shaped base of the glass is fantastic stuff too.

Here's drinker's-eye-view of the action. Thirsty?

Well, that’s it for my new Duvel glass – I love it. Thanks very much to Daniel Ducret for buying it for me ! ^^ More soon.

Leady247 ^^


Sunday afternoon’s review of last Saturday night’s beer – CHIMAY BLUE

When I tried my first Chimay last year I wasn’t that impressed. I bought a bottle of the red variety from Tescos and really couldn’t see the appeal.

Soon after this I was lucky enough to visit Brussels on a business-trip and a friend opened my eyes – he described Chimay as the most ‘authentic tasting’ of the widely available Trappist beers. Since that endorsement I have been looking forward to trying another bottle and posting a re-evaluation.

Its funny how a comment from someone you respect can cause you to question your opinions. Its one of the joys of having other people around I guess….

Last weekend I was in ASDA’s Leyton Supercentre with my girlfriend to get some keys cut (we are moving in together in just under a week now ^^). I perused the beer section not expecting much Belgian-wise other than a few Leffe Blondes….

…So I was delighted to find good stocks of a blue-bottled Chimay.

Here's that lovely blue label ^^ Check you local ASDA now - I have found it in the Southgate store as well.

As readers of my original Chimay post will know I am really against the scarlet labels on the Chimay Red sold in my local Tescos so I was delighted to find this navy-blue badged version and immediately bought it (I think it was around £1.70).

I didn’t really notice until I got home and checked the alcohol volume – but it seems that blue labels signify strength in Belgian beers. Both the blue blazed Leffe Neuf and this Chimay Blue clock in at 9% – this basically means two bottles will put most people away. I would definitely recommend these strong ales as an Aperitif with some decent cheese or bread rather than a solo drink – neither are what you would call refreshing or thirst-quenching.

A quick check of the refreshed Chimay website told me that it offers beer in three ‘Personalities’ – this Blue version or (‘Grande Réserve’ as its known in larger variants) is bottle-conditioned and known for its strength and fresh, yeasty taste.

The three Chimay 'personalities' (pic taken from the official website).

The back of the bottle text is in English and reads:

‘The Trappist logo certifies that this ale is brewed in a Trappist Abbey and that the majority of sales income is intended for social aid. Chimay Blue represents the full power and complexity of a well-balanced Trappist beer.’

It’s nice that Chimay are promoting their Corporate Social Responsibility programs (well they are monks at the end of the day lol) but they could be a little more lavish with their back-of-bottle text if they want to compete with the Leffe’s of this world – or maybe the lack of flamboyant copy and concentration on the ale experience is part of the charm?

Next time I'm in Belgium or France I definitely need to pick up a Chimay glass.

Unfortunately I do not have a Chimay ‘Chalice’ (yet) so I used my Leffe glass to enjoy the ‘Blue. This worked well – the wide, high-ball allowing the ale plenty of room to breath. I’m sure this clash is not recommended by Chimay’s branding department though!

After pouring (following Chimay’s own guidelines) the first thing I noticed was that this is an exceedingly dark, thick beer – hold the glass up and almost no light penetrates apart from a soft amber glow at the apex of the glass.

Hold it up and just a tinge of light comes through at the bottom of the glass.

At little flotilla of bubbles formed the head and there was plenty of bitter, heady aroma as I lifted it to my mouth. The first taste hit is VERY chocolaty but this gives way to a deep, crisply bitter taste of hops that is great to swirl around your mouth. I found it a more mellow experience than the almost metallic edge to the Leffe Neuf.

That’s it for the Chimay Blue – its comes highly recommended by me, a little something to savour as your evening unfolds.

(Now I just need to find out which UK supermarket is selling the Chimay Triple? Maybe Sainsburys? Even better if they had it gift-packed with a Chimay chalice.)

Leady247 ^^

Sunday evening’s review of another Xmas night’s beer – Leffe Radieuse

This is it the final beer in the Xmas selection my sister brought be back from Brussels. It’s definitely taken longer cataloguing all the various beers for my blog than it did to drink them – in the case of this Leffe Radieuse I am posting about it almost a month after I drank it – so excuse me if my recollections are a little clouded (especially as I also lost the phone I was making notes on while drinking).

I've had this empty bottle kicking around in my room since Xmas...

‘First thing I should say is that I find the use of too much red, pink or purple on beer packaging quite off-putting – as I noted in my Chimay review.

These types of colours always make me think the beer is fruit flavoured and once I have that idea in my head it really influences my taste buds to report ‘fruity, fruity, fruity’ while drinking it.  Obviously Leffe beers tend to have fruity edges or hints to them but you want those in the back-ground, supporting the hops, wheat and spices etc. not dominating the show.

As another Leffe brand extension I was struggling to understand where Leffe Radieuse fitted into a line-up which already spans Blonde (bottle or canned), Bruin, the bottle-conditioned Triple and my personal favourite: the super-strong aperitif the Neuf.

So is the Radieuse just an insignificant differentiation in InBev’s branding strategy – designed to squeeze a few curious Euros from their loyal drinkers?

Here's the seal on the Radieuse - but where does this beer fit into the line up? (and why is the bottle detailing in pink?)

The Leffe website has a good description of the Radieuse here. it describes it as a ‘gourmet beer’ that is the pride of ‘every brewer’ (or brewing robot at InBev?). It apparently has specially selected hops that give it the bitter taste that connoisseurs are ‘mad about’ (not sure that is really the best choice of words by the official site there).

It has fruity accents and earthy overtones apparently, 8.2% alcohol volume and is best served at 5-6 degrees C.

My impressions were basically that it tasted like a purer version of the Leffe Bruin, with more edge and a more silky mouth-feel. Apparently coriander is one of the key ingredients – which seems a bit strange to me – but I must admit I could not taste it.

The Radieuse is definitely up there with the Triple and Neuf in terms of hit as it makes its way down your throat, rests in your tummy and and then filters into your blood. I would imagine after 2 or 3 bottles of this your might be rather enjoying yourself ^^.

I had a look online for the definition of ‘Radieuse’ and what I got is ‘brilliant’ and ‘Luminous’. For me this is definitely the beer in the Leffe collection that has been crafted for visuals.

The Radieuse - maybe the best looking liquid in the world? As you can see once again I have not managed to get much of a head on my Leffe.

I assume the closest English translation would be: ‘Leffe Radiant’ – the dark, bronze-ruby colours burst from the glass and break and refract the light gloriously as you raise the glass. It conjures images of the god-rays of sunlight streaming through the ancient stain-glass windows of the Trappist Abbeys where it’s brewed, the monks shuffling about their worship.

The Leffe website less dramatically describes the Radieuse’s visuals as a ‘unique golden-brown colour that plays a staring role on any table.’ This suggests that it’s place in the Leffe portofolio is as a dinner-party type beer, to bring out and dramatically pour before candle-light when you have people to impress. (not sure that I will every be doing that personally…hopefully…)

Well that finishes up all my Xmas beer blogging, so I can finally move into 2011 for some new beer activities. I am planning to get down to my Mum and Dad’s local pub The Viper to learn something about some English beers as it’s all been very Belgian in here recently, I am also looking to do some beer and cheese matching.

Anyway I’ll leave you with this image to ponder:

A Leffe and a nice cup of tea...almost impossible to choose between the two on a Sunday evening...which would you go for?

Leady 247 ^^

Sunday evening’s review of an Xmas night’s beer – Leffe Bière de Noël Kerstbier

In this post I wanted to cover my quality Xmas pressie from my sister: an official Leffe glass so I thought it would be perfect to cover Leffe’s Xmas ale: the Bière de Noël at the same time.

Back in December I got a lucky break when my sister’s boyfriend took her on a surprise trip to Brussels just before xmas:

My sister's bf and fellow beer fanboy, James was lucky enough to have La Trappe Quadruple while he was in Brussels ^^

This trip gave my sister a great oppotunity to top-up my xmas presents with a few bottles of Belgian Trappist ale. Even better, she got me an official Leffe glass which is something I have been wanting for a while now (readers of this blog will have noticed I have been drinking beer out of wine glasses due to lack of a proper Belgian beer glass).

The new glass, the Leffe Noël and a small baguette (the photographic composition for this blog is really picking up!)

The Leffe glass is  like large wine-glass with a thin stem and big bulbous receptacle atop to hold the liquid. The bulb on the Leffe glass has a large diameter opening which I guess is designed to expose more of the beer’s surface area to the air – allowing some chemistry/witchcraft to take place and easy access for both the drinker’s nostrils.

As the glass is relatively shallow (it takes around 330ml or half a pint) it doesn’t allow too much foam to build up.

Mainly – as anyone that still likes to drink coke out of the iconic glass bottle will know – things just taste better when presented in their official format. I guess this maybe more down to branding than science but who knows?

As for the Leffe Bière de Noël…this is a beer created by Leffe especially for the Xmas market (a cash-in?). My gf was kind enough to translate the Belgian text on the back of the bottle for me:

‘With its dark amber colour, its fruity tastes, spicy bouquet and creamy foam the xmas beer from leffe is a beer full of character. Every Xmas season this is what people are looking forward to – it’s the tradition of the brewmasters who keep their best hops and barley to brew just this once per year.  Leffe Xmas beer will be your favourite apperitif and give you an intense moment to savour’

A closer look at the label for the Bière de Noël.

I have to take issue with a couple of the points made there: The Bière de Noël I tried was definately not amber in colour and there was little or no head. Politely I would say that visually it was like Leffe Bruin with a cherry-red hint; however the note I made at the time was that it looked like a glass of flat coke. (In a future post I will write about the Leffe Radieuse which I think is closer to what people would expect from the Bière de Noël visually).

I wonder if maybe the long trip on the Eurostar from Belgium to London and then waiting ’til after new year to drink it meant that this Xmas Leffe was not quite on top of it’s game when I popped it?

Taste wise I would say that Bière de Noël is somewhere between a fiery Leffe Blonde and the bitter edge of a Bruin – with added xmas spices and maybe a hint of coco?

Personally, I would say that the Noël is a decent a one-off bottle to get you into the Xmas spirit before eating but it’s not something I would keep drinking as it lacks the smooth action of a Blonde or the hard-edge and punch in the nose of a Triple or Neuf (alchohol wise it’s 6.6% same as a Leffe Blonde).

That’s it for this week.  I would recommend checking out the new Leffe website there’s lots of good info. on there and the ‘Perfect Moment’ voice-over for each beer is pompous but just on the comedic side of pretentious.

Lots more adventures with my new Leffe glass coming soon. Leady 247 ^^

Friday morning’s review of the last Friday night’s beer – Leffe Blonde (canned version)

Of all the beers I saw during my first trip to Brussels (spring 2010)  it was the canned Leffe Blondes that left the lasting impression.

The thought of that bespoke, classy, thick, abbey ale encased in the convenience of can was something of a conceit. However the pic I snapped of a fridge packed full of shining bronze cans remained frequently oogled on my phone long after I returned to the UK. My longing to try a Leffe Blonde from a can grew with each passing month….

The picture I took in Brussels (the cans are actually a lot cheaper in Avignon Auchan - just €1.7)

It was not until this year’s Xmas trip with my girlfriend to her home town of Avignon that I finally got my mouth on a can of Leffe…

During a trip to a local pet-shop to assess the French Poms-Poms and Bubble-Eyes we were lucky enough divert to a large Auchan to peruse the beer section. My girlfriend’s Dad is obviously a fan of the blog as he bought me two cans of Leffe Blonde and another gift that will be profiled in an upcoming post. Much love to him for that ^^

Leaving Auchan having pocketed the bronze treasure ^^

We enjoyed the first can back at home however this article pertains to the can I enjoyed on the on the way back to the UK via TGV on the last day of 2010.

A quick aside about the TGV – the orange TGV was always the train I dreamed about adding to my model train-set as a kid. It was a mythical, futuristic, orange beast of train and I would still love a ride on one.

You can stick your Shinkansens - this is the coolest train ever ^^

These days the old generation of TGV is still in service but unfortinately they have been repainted blue and grey which makes them look very mundane. I did see one of the classic orange models once at Gare de Lyon in 2009 but unfortunately it was not the train we were riding on.

Back to the beer (sort of)…what made this can of Leffe superb was that it was drunk at around 12 noon on the TGV accompanied by two home-made ham sandwiches and a pizza from the local pizzeria (thin-crust, cheesy, crispy, herb-y and an olive  in the middle OMFG!). This was definitely my best travelling lunch of the year.

Stuck on the TGV with a can of Leffe and Plants vs Zombies HD...ahhh when life conspires to reward us ^^

As my Belgian friend had explained a few weeks previously: Leffe has the most professional and effective marketing of any of the ‘Abbey Beers’ as they are backed by the massive InBev brewery.

I guess this is the reason why Leffe has the canned option – it’s easier for retailers to stock, cheaper to produce/package/distribute and there are scales of economy (InBev also can Stella and others beers as well).

There’s an open question of what canning it says about the Leffe brand going forward though…?

What I can confirm is that the taste of the canned Leffe is pretty much as good as the bottled variety – it’s got that same deliciously thick, smooth, syrupy taste.  Obviously its feels a little cheaper and it’s a lot harder to get a nose full of the aroma through the tiny whole in the can. Also, it lacks the spectacle and theatre of pouring Leffe from the bottle. However for a perfect travelling picnic on the TGV I don’t think you can do much than a can of Leffe! Let’s hope they bring them to the UK soon.

Leady 247 ^^

(PS. If you haven’t got it already please try out Plants vs Zombies now it’s one of the best games every made. Graphics and music are simply fabulous and gameplay is FROM THE GODS).

Saturday evening review of Friday night’s Beer – Leffe Neuf (9 Degrees)

Welcome to another beer blog. Before I get into last night’s beer I want to write about some beer related info. and activities I was lucky enough to have this week.

On Tuesday I went on a business trip to Belgium.  The place I was visiting is called Namur which seems like a very nice river-side town. If you want to go there you can take a train from Brussels-Midi (takes about 30mins).

Anyway, on the drive from Namur station to my customer’s office I got talking to my Belgian friend Philippe about beer and ales….

…I asked him about the Trappist Monks that brewed Belgian beers and he told me that not only did each Monastery have a signature beer they also made a signature cheese to be eaten alongside the beer! For example if you visit the Chimay beer website you can see that it says ‘The Art of Beer & Cheese’. (Apparently these cheeses are widely available in Belgian supermarkets so you can always match your Cheese to your beer.)

The Chimay official cheese. We need this available in the UK now please Tesco cheese buyers!

I must say I can’t think of anything more holy and bloody superb than Monks that make ale and cheese! (well I can think of one other thing they could grow)

After explaining that we were getting a better selection of Belgian abbey beers easily available in the UK now I asked Philippe about what were the most authentic Belgian beers. He told me that Leffe has the widest distribution and the best ‘marketing’ but that Chimay was one of the most authentic in terms of taste.

On hearing this and taking into account the cheese related revelations above I feel a bit embarrassed about last week’s Chimay releated blog. I think a re-assessment of this beer (hopefully accompanied by the relevant cheese) is certainly in order.

I had very little time in Belgian (just 8hrs actually) so my shopping was limited to just the small ‘Casino’ supermarket in Brussels-Midi station (the station the Eurostar uses). Unfortunately this small supermarket did not seem to have the Chimay cheese in stock and without recgonising any of the other brands I decided to focus on just getting some beer.

As I have been spending my money on Xmas presents and putting money aside for our mortgage I budgetted myself just €15 for beer.

In the end I got two bottles of Leffe Neuf and two bottles of Leffe Triple. The reason for this is that I have only been able to try these two beers before in Cafe Leffe Lyon (I heve visited there twice with my girlfriend and its fucking ace).

The line-up of draft Leffes at Cafe Leffe in Lyon

Leffe Neuf is translated as ‘Leffe Nine Degrees’. This is because its strong at 9% alcohol volume. It’s dark, black, thick ‘n fruity tasting ale.

It really hits on the back of you palette with some breathable bitterness and then bubbles away warmly in your tummy. It gives you a nice glow to your cheeks and temples very soon after drinking it. A whole body experience of a beer then ^^.

After my first mouth-full I sighed and said ‘That’s a beer’.  Which sums up my thoughts really.

It's 9 Degrees people !

My girlfriend Christine was nice enough to translate the back of the label for me:

‘Leffe Neuf is brewed to the traditional recipe of the Leffe Abbey. Leffe is a high fermentation beer with a deep golden colour and an alchohol content of 9%. Its whole taste and rich aroma makes the beer full of character. Leffe Neuf will accompany you everywhere and will be the ideal drink for your best moments and digestion.’

(from that we can see it’s designed as an after dinner drink but personally I always prefer to drink beer on an empty stomach and with a clean palette).

There's that deep golden colour, shame I cant share the aroma via the internet 😦

I was planning to go to the football today to see Arsenal trounce Stoke City but since that is off now (snow -_-) this last picture is probably lost some of it’s meaning! Hopefully I will be enjoying a Leffe after we have beaten Chelsea at home in our next match (we can do it if we CONCENTRATE for the whole match)!

Well, that’s it for this blog and Leffe Neuf. I hope to bring you a test of the Chimay ale + cheese combo shortly and if you are travelling around Europe over Xmas I can definitely recommend trying some Leffe Neuf or you can join me in tweet-spamming @leffebrewers to get them to release it here!

See ya, Leady247 ^^