Big Sky Biere de Noël

Reviewed by on December 15, 2014 in Holiday Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Big Sky Brewing Company

  • Origin: Missoula, MT, US

  • Rated On: December 12, 2014

  • Best Before: N/A

  • ABV: 10.1%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

  • Rating: GOOD !

The Review

Biere de Noël is Big Sky Brewing’s holiday seasonal offering, a Belgian strong ale, which is quite appropriate for this time of year.  I quite like the label depiction of an elf kicking back on the day after Christmas, with a glass of this in hand.

This 355ml bottle pours a clear, medium bronzed amber hue, with one skinny finger of weakly foamy, bubbly, and generally fizzy beige head, which leaves but a few remote and isolated dots of lace around the glass as it quickly blows off.

It smells of sweet caramel malt, a touch of drier toffee, brown sugar, somewhat pungent dark fruit – yer typical figs, dates, and besotted raisins, with maybe a bit of saucy maraschino cherry as well – laid-back yeast, a touch of muddled seasonal confection spice, and a bristling, sort of nose-hair twitching, alcohol heat. The taste is doughy caramel malt, toffee pudding, slightly charred simple syrup, indistinct warming spices, a nice black fruitiness – dates, prunes, and plump raisins – ethereal Belgian yeast, and a bit of earthy, weedy hops, ones who inadvertently slipped into a big ol’ vat o’ booze.  The bubbles are pretty well understated, barely showing some frothy leg for our amusement, the body a heady medium-full weight, generally smooth and mildly creamy, the alcohol the only transgressor here, and it apparently has other things on its mind. It finishes on the sweet side, sure, but the various contributors are aligned in that certain old-world emulating way, one which avoids any thoughts of scraping one’s tongue.

A rather enjoyable ode to the Belgian greats of the style – complex, fruity, and with a big whack of mostly undetectable booze – yup, that’s what does it for me during Yuletide. Good on this brewery for reminding me why I enjoyed myself immensely in their town a few years ago, even if it was summery at the time.

Brady White

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