Van Steenberge Augustijn Ale Review

 

On a recent trip to Palm Springs to visit family in my home town, I had dinner at Pomme Frite, a Belgain bistro in downtown. I had first heard about this restaurant on Twitter from a posting by Draft Magazine in January, 2009. When I arrived, I discovered the beer list to be extensive and the food to be delicious.

The beer that I tried was Austustijn Ale, which was listed under the “Amber Ales” on the menu. This beer caught my eye because the menu described this beer as “Amber Ale, Flavor of Hops.” It did not disappoint.

This beer is brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge, a brewery that has been around in Belgium, under one name or another, since 1874. You can read more about the history of this brewery on the Van Steenberge website.

Although the brewery has been around since 1974, Augustijn Ale has been brewed since 1295 by the Augustinian fathers of Ghent. In 1982, Brouwerij Van Steenberge took over the recipe and the production of this ale and also adjusted the flavors. The brewery describes Augustijn Ale as follows:

Augustijn has a hoppy flavor with a malty background. The connoisseur may also detect a light fruity vanilla flavor.

Although I did not pick up on the vanilla, I did pick up some of the fruitiness and hoppy flavors.

Where I Found It. I enjoyed Augustijn Ale at the Pomme Frite Belgian Bistro in Palm Springs, CA.

Serving Type. The beer was served from a 330ml bottle into a chalace shaped beer glass.

Appearance. Augustijn Ale has a foamy white head that lingers in a very thin layer on top of the beer until the last drop. It has a honey orange color and is cloudy like a gem stone but you can still through the beer enough to see the bubbles.

Smell. It has the expected Belgian yeast aroma, but with a slight twist like a fresh banana that is ever so slightly green and a hint of cloves. Unexpectedly, however, this beer has a subtle but nice citrus-orange hoppy bouquet. For me, the bouquet did not last until the end, maybe the smell of food overpowered it.  There is also the aroma of sweet barley malt.

Taste. Augustijn Ale has a barley malt sweetness that is wel balanced by the hop bitterness. The malt flavor is much stronger tasting than is was smelling. The sweetness of the malt is enhanced by the fresh slightly-unripe banana. The clove is more prominent in the flavor probably by the slightly spicy hop flavors. This beer went very well with the baked brie “en brioche” appetizer at the restaurant.

Mouthfeel. Despite being 8% alcohol by volume, this is a medium-bodied beer. From the original gravity of 1.076 and the alcohol content, I calculated the final gravity to be 1.015. Although it is clearly medium-bodied, Augustijn Ale at times seems lighter bodied. This might be due to the high alcohol content and the effervescence. The level of carbonation is pleasant and a touch higher than most North American craft beers that I have drinking lately.

Drinkability. Except for Belgian witbier, I usually only want a single Belgian beer per session. The flavors are so intense that one is usually enough. Augustijn Ale, so far, is the exception. I think I enjoyed the particular balance of flavors that this beer imparts. It coudl also be the strain of yeast (which I might try harvesting for some homebrew). I found myself craving another glass immediately upon finishing the first glass. I find this to be a much more drinkable Belgian without losing any of the Belgian beer qualities.

Rating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.

  • Appearance (20%): 4.0
  • Smell (20%): 4.0
  • Taste (40%): 4.0
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 4.0
  • Drinkability (10%): 4.0
  • Overall: 4.0

Information

  • Style: Belgian tripel
  • Brewery: Brouwerij Van Steenberge
  • Alcohol by volume: 8%
  • Original Gravity: 1.076 (18.5 Plato)
  • Final Gravity (calculated): 1.015 (3.8 Plato)
  • Bottle conditioned
  • Beer Advocate rating:

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About David Jensen

David is a craft beer and photography enthusiast.
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