After spending the past month wading through swamps and being devoured by horseflies the size of hummingbirds its nice to be back in Victoria. Upon my return I was happy to see that Driftwood has again brought out their Belgian cherry ale, Belle Royale. Last year I missed its release so I was pretty excited to pick up a bottle on my first evening back on the good ol' Island. Similar to the fantastic Spring Rite that Driftwood recently released, it's difficult to categorise Belle Royale. Driftwood describes it as a "strong Belgian-inspired ale" that is made with sour Morello cherries. Reviews I read of it from last year were impressive, so I definitely had some expectations as I popped the top and poured my first glass.
Belle Royale is an intriguing light orange that is almost pink in hue, a most unusual and yet appealing colour for a beer. It has a great spicy aroma, and similar to other Driftwood beers it pours with little head to speak of. The entry is lightly sweet and leads into a nicely contrasting tart character. It has an incredibly late aftertaste of cherries that emerges almost as you're preparing to take your next sip. This beer is refreshing with a certain intangible character that is reminiscent of champagne. One of the things I like so much about it is the gentle quality of the cherries in the flavour. Too often flavours such as this can overpower a beer, but here it gently complements, taking the flavour to the next level of complexity. I may be starting to sound like a broken record, but this is yet another home run for Driftwood Brewing; In my opinion these guys are going to start winning some serious awards in the very near future. Even if you're like me and you don't tend to like fruit beers, give this one a try, it won't disappoint.
Rating: Very Good