Brouwerij Van Steenberge’s “Witches’ Brew”

October 29, 2012

Hoppy Halloween, everyone! Ti me to dress up as your favorite superhero, cartoon character, ghoulie or beastie and wander the streets in search of sugary, tooth-decaying treats. I love this time of year as does, I imagine, costume store owners and dentists.

It’s always about the treats on Halloween, right? Not me. I have to mess with the little scamps, first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve answered the door to the traditional cry of “Trick or Treat!” only to do that thing where it looks like I’m pulling off my own thumb. They look puzzled and/or hurt as I explain that they got a trick this time. It’s worth it, though. I tell them I’m just kidding and make good with the sweets, throwing in an extra Kit Kat to ensure no midnight eggings of the house occur.

Gotta keep things interesting lest the observance become boring and trite. Halloween has enough tradition and classic imagery already. Case in point, the witch and jack o’lantern as the unofficial symbols of the holiday.

Here’s where we would’ve been talking about one of the numerous pumpkin ales that hit store shelves this year, but every single brewery putting the eponymous gourd into their beer did so way too early. Some selections were sold out before it was even October. So it’s a moot point to tell you how amazing Southern Tier’s Pumpking Ale was or how disappointing some of them were. Seeing as how this time of year is considered “the season of the witch,” we’ll go after that other main symbol and try out some Witches’ Brew from Belgium’s Van Steenberge Brewery, makers of Piraat and Gulden Draak.

This frightening 9.3% abv tripel is clear liquid gold with an absolutely huge, pillowy head that stays around for days. Excellent hop presence allows the head to leave incredibly sticky lacing. Terrific scents going on here; banana, mango, bready yeast and citrusy hops with an herbal finish. Almost like a Belgian IPA with its assertive hop bite, the classic golden tripel flavors end up winning out with more tropical fruits, spicy-yet-sweet malt and a floral note. Texturally, Witches’ Brew is one of the best out there; very crisp and dry with abundant carbonation. Almost like a classic sparkling white wine like Aubry Grand Cru or Pierre Peters Blanc de Blanc.

Hop aboard your broom, fly on down and get some today. No tricks here… this one’s all treat.