11/05/2012

Classic Vintage

Last month I reviewed the larger Goose Island vintage bottles and this month I'm back again with the four smaller brethren to the sistren*. These are a more disparate group of beers with a dark and light saison, a Belgian Abbey style and a pale ale.
Goose Island's Vintage Collection

Goose Island thinks they pair well with cheese; so I'll take them up on the challenge. Everyone knows I'm a cheese fiend so don't need an excuse really!  I headed to M&S and picked up a couple of Irish cheeses and a French brie.


Sofie is a Belgian-style saison that works well with brie. Brewed with orange peel and aged in white wine barrels with wild yeast its supposed to be a substitute for champagne. It pours hazy pale blonde with a fluffy white foam. On the nose its quite lactic with acidic pineapple and a touch of Brett. Its a light touch in the mouth, reminding me of the hibiscus flavours from Goose Island Fleur with a touch of white pepper in the finish. Sparkling carbonation as fine as champagne.
The brie is pungent, with mushroomy rind, uniform, slightly squishy paste but the right side of ammoniac-al. The flavour is delicate and not so pungent as an unpasteurised brie but works well enough. When sampled together the two cancel each other out somewhat, but the earthy mushroom rind is enhanced by the spicy note and of course that carbonation does its thing in cleansing the palate. An alright but not outstanding match.

Matilda is a Belgian style pale ale, suggested to go with washed rind cheeses and Camembert. It pours mid-amber with sweet peach and perfumed violet nose. Sweet candy sugar with a slight burnt caramel in the finish. Little in the way of carbonation.
I chose aardharan for this, a grainy, salty rind with soft and tacky paste, very buttery with strong rind. This time the beer acquires some fruity and peppery spice notes with the cheese.

Pere Jacques is a Belgian abbey-style dubbel which pairs to aged Gouda or Stilton. It pours mid-ruby brown with a strong nose of apple orchards, so much so that with your eyes closed it could be a cider. Its quite sweet with plenty of higher alcohols and a burnt sugar/ solvent finish. I'm not too keen.
Chose to pair it with cashel blue, another Irish cheese. Its salty and funky with a rich creamy finish. The cheese is perhaps a little strong for the beer, the beer losing what little character it did have and leaving a residual sweetness. The full flavour of the cheese is still apparent

Last but not least is Pepe Nero, the black saison. No cheese suggestion here, but I'd go for a crumbly Lancashire or Cheshire. Pours dark brown with fizzy tan head that doesn't hang around. On the nose its black pepper spice and toffee malt. Sweet up front with chocolate malt and a hint of vegetal horseradish. A long sweet and spicy finish.


With the exception of Sofie I'm not sure that these beers better any of the Belgian greats and the cheese pairing suggestions aren't particularly good, with the exception of washed rind & Matilda. So CABPOM for may would be Ardharan and Goose Island Matilda, another win for the washed rind cheeses. I'd suggest they're all still worth trying, but probably not at the expense of the Belgian brewed classics.

*yes I'm aware that's not a word in much use these days but its real - look it up!

1 comment:

  1. I liked all of these, without being blown away by any of them; all around the 3.7-3.8 scoring range. Slightly disappointed with "Pepe Nero" (as well as the only other black saison I've had - Jolly Pumpkin's "Bam Noire").

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