Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review - De Ranke Guldenberg

With the biggest Canucks game in nearly two decades looming, I find myself in the unlikely location of Fort McMurray, fighting one of the biggest wildfires in Canadian history. It's a funny world sometimes. Unfortunately for me, the rig camp I'm staying in that houses 6000 workers is completely dry on penalty of expulsion. Fortunately for the reader I have a couple of reviews saved up for such an occasion.

I recently got the chance to try Guldenberg, an abbey-style beer from the always amazing Belgian Brouwerij De Ranke. The last beer of their's I reviewed, the Saison de Dottignies, is still an absolute favourite of mine. There are a number of beers they produce that I haven't been able to try yet so I was pretty excited when I picked up a tall bottle of Guldenberg from the excellent Strath liquor store.

Guldenberg is probably best described as an abbey-style tripel, and is an inviting pale and cloudy gold that sports a nice inch-thick white head that lasts to the bottom of the glass. Its aroma balances the Belgian yeast and noble hop elements incredibly well. It has mild flavours of clove and spice, and a subtle hint of lemon with a light sweetness on the finish. It is hard to believe this beer is 8.5% abv, as its body is so light and refreshing. This beer is so subtle and drinkable and above all balanced; a truly incredible beer.

I think Guldenberg is an example of abbey-style beer of exceeding quality that is produced by neither an official Trappist brewery nor a certified Belgian Abbey brewery. A point Stan Hieronymus explores in his excellent book Brew Like a Monk is that many people feel that the quality of the Trappist Monastery beers have declined in recent years, partially as a result of the monasteries bowing to the pressures of technology and the marketplace, as well as the use of inferior ingredients. With this in mind it is interesting that De Ranke states their primary values as "The use of natural raw materials without using adjuncts or artificial means (and) working with traditional methods, without being blind for new technology, but only using these new technologies to improve quality and not to produce cheaper (beer)." Ironically, this sounds like the very principles the Trappist breweries were founded on and possibly have begun to stray from. Funny how things can come full circle. I would most highly reccomend Guldenberg, or any product by De Ranke for that matter, and this beer receives my highest rating.
Rating: Excellent

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