Hoegaarden is probably one of the better known beer-producing villages in Belgium, but it's not all mass market, pale, coriander-laced ale from InBev.
The Nieuwhuys Brewpub may not be as big as it's corporate neighbour but as we all know, size doesn't matter when it comes to beer.
Alpaide is their 10% ABV dark tripel – or as Google translate would have it, a "dark pit filled triple".
It's an enthusiastic one, leaping out of the bottle as soon as the cap is off. It's a dark, near-black brown coloured beer and the huge, open tan head lingers well on the surface.
The nose is curiously metallic, with molasses and a suggestion of marmite. Over time, more sticky dried fruit notes come through and the alcohol, while reserved, provides a gentle background.
There's a sweet, dark sugar start in the mouth, with rich dates and a positively port-like character that brings a deliciously warming alcoholic note. More toffee notes start to come through over time, and later a nice, deeply bitter resinous hop creeps up to balance out all that sweet stickiness.
It's a big, wonderful beer, and although the alcohol taste is firmly there, it doesn't taste anything close to 10% as it slips down so dangerously easily. A magnificent 4.5 stars.
Many thanks to Belgian Beerz for providing this year’s Twelve Beers Of Christmas!
This review was originally published 3rd January, 2014. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.