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Beer Review #170 Corsendonk Christmas Ale

I have only reviewed one winter beer so far this year which isn’t surprising since I have a giant backlog of beers in my fridge. I finally got around to drinking a bunch of them recently and I had the chance to restock my collection last weekend. I was on the hunt for winter seasonal beers as some seasonal beers just seem to fly off the shelves. Today’s winter beer comes all the way from Turnhout, Belgium and is brewed by Brouwerij Corsendonk.

This beer is classified as a Belgian strong dark ale, but the bottle says only dark ale. The bottle also says 8.1% ABV so I guess that is where the strong part of this beer comes in. Corsendonk Christmas Ale pours a nice brown color with a fluffy off-white head. I actually had to stop pouring this beer to leave some in the bottle because the head was so thick from the high carbonation.

The nose was pretty spicy and herbal. There were some slight malt notes, but the spices did a good job of covering up the malt. I also got some slight pine notes in there, something I am not accustomed to smelling in any style of Belgian beer that I have tried. On my first taste I was surprised by the sweetness in the front end of this beer. The spices quickly come in and follow through the rest of the beer. I didn’t get any heat on this one, which I was partly expecting to have. I also noticed a bit of fig flavor buried inside of the malt.

Due to the high carbonation, this beer comes off as being very light in the mouthfeel. This one is pretty easy drinking but I found myself a bit underwhelmed. This felt like a muted Belgian beer for me. I don’t know if they brew this in the colder months or at colder temperatures than their other beers since the spices and esters are not super strong in the flavor. Generally colder temperatures will produce a “cleaner” beer with less ester production. In any case, I don’t think this one will be on my list next year. It was an enjoyable beer, but I wanted something a bit more punchy. (more…)