Today, I'm reviewing a homebrew from a good buddy of mine who is brewing some truly creative and delicious beer. Also, at the rate he is procuring larger scale brewing equipment, it wouldn't surprise me if he quickly becomes a neighborhood favorite (and beyond). The beer of his I'll be drinking today is his "Belgian Waffle," which, you guessed it, will taste like a Belgian waffle. It's my understanding that actual whole, cooked waffles were used in the brewing process, though I don't recall at which stage. I'm excited to drink this and see who it stacks up against the more established, widely distributed craft brewers. Let's pour!
The beer begins pleasantly enough with the sweet aroma of crisp apples and a fainter caramel. Oddly, I am not getting an intense maple or syrup aroma at this point. Further back is a faint almost champagne-like dryness and it's a unique little nuance that seems thrown in for good measure. Slightly more detectable is a lightly floral aroma that blends nicely with the sweet apples from earlier. All these aromas were from a 2-3 oz pour, but after I poured the entire bottle and got all that tasty sediment off of the bottom, this beer really opened up. It went from "just plain apples" to "apples and gobs of caramel apple dip." The caramel complements the apple very well and only now can I begin to see the maple syrup arriving on the scene.
During my initial 2-3 oz pour, the beer was golden in hue and quite nice. After pouring the entire bottle and its sediment into the glass, it more resembled apple cider fresh from the orchard; brown, cloudy, and a pinch of dark crumbs at the bottom. The head rose nicely with loads of tiny, tightly packed bubbles, fizzed loudly, and faded away very quickly to absolutely nothing. No lacing. No head. Nada.
The waffles sure do not take long to make their presence known as even the earliest flavors are that of golden, fried, sweet, bready goodness and even a sweet cream. The sensation is longer than most introductions, but slowly the apples' honey-like sweetness creeps in and is easily detectable, especially on the tip of the tongue. A slight alcohol tingle is also present from time to time. When held in the mouth the beer has a blending of light sweetnesses almost like the aforementioned cream, but in its candied form, like the center of a "bulls-eye" or "cow tail" candy. As the beer warms, the sweetness shows its true colors and reveals itself to be the Belgian yeasts that were undoubtedly used in the brewing process. The finish truly adds another dimension to the brew! Its 7.5% ABV is laid completely bare and gives the impression of a much more alcohol-laden beer. The alcohol combines with a wonderfully high and unexpected smoothness and goes down like a caramel liquor with the tongue still left tingling.
There's lots of good things happening here, especially for what I consider to be a golden-style Belgian dubbel (or a duppel-style golden ale). A medium body with lots of lively carbonation and well utilized warmth are all appropriate for the style. Though even for a Belgian dubbel, the carbonation can be a bit to aggressive a prickly at times.
Overall Impression 8/10
Obviously this brew has some Belgian-style roots and is not afraid to show them. The sweetness, yeast, carbonation, and warmth all point to its origins. The overarching apples were an unexpected, yet welcome twist, as were the light floral notes in the aroma. They almost had me classifying this with a "golden ale" twist, but the other stylistic points were stronger contributors to the brew as a whole.
Definitely a great start for one of this homebrewer's earlier efforts. It had tasty, distinctly Belgian characteristics and added something of its own to make it unique. I must say, while the taste of the Belgian yeasts were certainly detectable, as were the waffles - thus satisfying both parts of its namesake - I was expecting some serious maple syrup action. Not that the caramel didn't satisfy that necessary sweetness, and not that said caramel didn't go phenomenally well with the apple notes. I suppose I was just expecting more of the maple syrup used during brewing to come through as... well, maple syrup that I use on my waffles and pancakes. It's a minor complaint for a tasty beer that follows its style remarkably well and I'm sure will only become more refined in its subsequent batches.