De Dolle is well worth a visit if you ever find yourself with a spare Saturday or Sunday when in West Flanders. It is a really welcoming space, typically quirky and small scale. But it is places like this that make Belgium’s brewing industry special.
The De Dolle beers are reasonably easy to find in bars and bottle shops, though they only produce around 1000 hectoliters per year (that’s around 300,000 bottles). But this beer is pretty tricky to find in Belgium as it is only brewed once or twice a year. It was made for export to the US at the request of the US distributor. Pretty much as the name suggests!
And it is a very different style of beer for a brewery that produces a range of traditional Belgian styles. That just makes it all the more interesting though.
It is very English in style, save for the use of the Arabier yeast. Very dark, almost black body with a strong aroma of dark chocolate, coffee, dark dried fruits and brown sugar. The only surprise in the flavour is that the beer isn’t as sweet as the aroma suggested. There is also an earthy bitterness and a hint of woody spice or even licorice.
The finish is long and slightly bitter in the dark chocolate sense. It probably sits somewhere between an imperial stout and a classic Belgian strong dark ale. Either way it is rather nice.