As the days get shorter and winter closes in on Europe, the dark winter ales come out to play. They are beers that people look forward to each year, something to bring on the festive spirits.
Though there isn’t a strict style guideline, these beers are characterised by their dark brown malty bodies, high alcohol content and most are spiced to some degree or other with spices like clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander.
Our beer from Abbaye des Rocs is pretty traditional in that sense. A strong dark ale heavy on the caramel malt body, it has the taste and aroma of dried dark fruits. Think raisins, plums, dates and figs with a little burnt brown sugar.
To offset the sweetness the beer is gently spiced and there is enough hop bitterness so that the beer isn’t cloying at all.
The lovely sweet malty backbone is really very smooth and belies that high ABV. On the finish there is a yeasty spiciness with a little peppery tingle. They’ve been described as being like Christmas fruit cake in a bottle, and that’s probably a fair call.