I made the long trek out to Plainfield to the Binny’s store where I planned to get lost for a while. I was looking for something new or popular or just plain different without punishing my taste buds. I slowly cruised all their beer aisles. Twice. I made up my mind in the Euro section looking at Belgians. I didn’t want to get into the dubbels, tripels or quads but a nice saison would be okay.
There were few new styles of Delirium beers, a couple of new St Bernardi (Lat. pl.) right next to the Rodenbachs and Flanders Red sours. (I saw many sour beers on many of the shelves and despite their popularity, I’m staying away from them. They ain’t Real Beer. They’re beer that’s been purposely spoiled.) My eyes went down a few shelves and spotted some 4-packs of Belgians called Piraat. With the help of the Beer Buddy app on my phone, I was able to scan the bar code and get a level of likability based on their database. I made my choice. I picked the Piraat Belgian Ale. That’s all it said on the label. The app gave me an insight into the ABV and description of the taste. I took the gamble on the style.
Piraat is brewed at the Van Steenberge Brewery in Belgium. This is the first time I’d heard of them. If this beer was anything like Duvel (same region, same style of squatty bottle) it would be worth it. 10.5% alcohol came at hefty price for four bottles. I bit the bullet and paid the lady.
All the way home I wondered about this mystery beer from this mystery brewery.
Enough of this jibber-jabber and let’s get down to some beer.
The beer poured a dark yellow and color and brought up colossal white foamy head. This was just like Duvel where one had to wait about 15 minutes after pouring to get a sip. Carbonation was rather vigorous with a great many micro-bubbles. The aroma was meager but what I got smelled a slight bit like dough or flour.
The first sip was absolutely amazing. It had a big mouthfeel and not one of the flavors packed a punch, but all of them together, man oh man. The beer was typical Belgian but all the ingredients provided for a super well balanced taste. It was incredible.
I could feel a bit of heat building up in the stomach just as I had thought it would. What I had here was surely a big beer. Not only big in alcohol but big in taste. What a wonderful treat. The beer tasted so great that it made me thankful to be alive and drinking it.
Enough with the superlatives and let’s try to break down the taste experience. The nose in the glass just before the intake senses that doughy flavor I spoke of earlier. There’s an all around sweetness and crystal malty flavor in the middle of the sip. At the swallow was a complicated array of tart and perhaps oaty flavors that when combined, let you know you had just sipped something special. It exhibits an overall Belgian quality to it without lending itself to the likes of a tripel or a saison. Not one iota of hops was sensed but I’m sure a trace amount was in there somewhere.
This particular Piraat beer style is classified as a Belgian Strong Ale or Pale Ale. It’s the same style as Duvel which is available across the universe for all I know. Also sharing the style is Unibroue’s Don de Dieu although the Don weighs in at 9%, Duvel at 8.5%, both below this 10.5% Piraat. A comparison of the three would be a fun beer night.
Piraat is the most expensive of the three, with Duvel coming in second. And Don de Dieu, like all of Unibroue’s brews, will still, to this day, come with a twist-off cap wrapped in foil. Pfft!
If you’re looking to treat yourself due to a pay raise, a special occasion or just because, you must try this beer. It’s a bit pricey, but the taste experience will be well worth it.
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Taste: Phenomenal. Your mouth won’t believe it.
Smoothness: Each sip glides right down.
Drinkability: Sippable. Let’s say it’s an easy sipping beer.
Bang for the buck: Great taste comes at a price.
Amount paid: $16.99 for four 11.2-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Yes. When I’m holding heavy.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) Yeasty. But heavy. (sip) That’s weird. (sip) What is that? It’s really strange. (sip) At first it seems like it’s going to be bitter and dry. but it’s not. It’s rich. It’s desserty. You know, after your meal or something. (From now on, anything that tastes rich will be called “desserty.”)
Brewery Van Steenberge [2:29]