Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Brouwerij Huyghe (Marks & Spencer) Belgian Cherry Wheat Beer

Good evening all. Last week I was in Marks & Spencer and noticed that quite a few of their repackaged beers are brewed by the prestigious Meantime Brewing Company, so I picked up a bottle of their Raspberry Wheat Beer and found it to be very well-balanced and thoroughly enjoyable. Fast forward to today, and with the positive experience of last week still on my mind I made a visit to the M&S in town to peruse the other offerings they have and hopefully pick up some interesting bottles. One that made its way into my basket was Belgian Cherry Wheat Beer, brewed by Brouwerij Huyghe in Melle, Belgium. If that name rings a bell, it's because this brewery is more commonly known for producing the popular beers Delerium Tremens and Delrium Nocturnum. As a result I'm expecting good things as the Delerium offerings instigated my passion for Belgian beers, so let's see what this has to offer. Review after the pic....

Belgian Cherry Wheat Beer (3.5% ABV) pours a cloudy red colour with a thick pink head that maintains itself well throughout drinking. There's a bit of lacing present in the early stages of the beer, and apart from that it looks like a standard fruit beer. The aroma is composed of cherries, phenols, cloves and bananas, with everything backed up by a noticeable sweetness that almost feels synthetic due to the fruit additions. Naturally the cherries hit first, with the cloves from the wheat combining with this aroma to create a herbal, spicy quality that is enhanced slightly through the Belgian yeast. Every so often the aromas coalesce and remind me of plasticine, which sounds unusual but it must be due to the combination of the sweet cherries and the spicier aromas from the wheat and the yeast. The taste is just as sweet, with cherries, cloves, some spiciness and a slightly tart sweetness during drinking and in the finish. The cherries bombard the palette with a subtle puckering sourness, with only the cloves coming through as the predominant wheat-derived flavour. The spiciness is very subdued but functions as a partial counterpoint to the sweet/sour sensations from the fruit additions. The sweetness is borderline sickly after a while, but the first few sips are pretty incredible and immediately made me think that this would be an ideal dessert beer. It doesn't quite have the acidity to cleanse the palette as with lambics or Flanders Reds, but could still compliment puddings with similar flavours very nicely. The finish is slightly dry and tart, with the cherries lingering on the palette nicely and creating small pockets of tartness long after drinking. The mouthfeel is not overly thick and can actually be quite watery despite the beer being relatively well carbonated, which is even more surprising considering the lack of filtration- fortunately this doesn't detract from the experience too much. Overall, an interesting concept for a fruit beer that reminds me a lot of offerings like Bacchus and Timmermanns, but with some characteristic wheat beer flavours and a nice background spiciness that adds a different dimension. I would've liked these aspects to have come through more during drinking as the sweetness can be quite cloying after a while, but as it is it's a solid beer that would be perfect outside on a hot day or with a fruity dessert. Definitely worth trying once, but I probably won't be getting this again in the future.

Until next time....

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