Brewery: Brouwerij De Ranke
City: Wevelgem, Belgium
Beer: Noir De Dottignies
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Notes: dark fruits, earthy yeast, caramel and chocolate
Notes on Brewery De Ranke
This past summer I was lucky enough to travel from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Brussels, Belgium on my bike. My friend and I spent 6 days and 5 nights in Belgium and as you can imagine, we drank A LOT of beer. It’s hard to put a number on how many different beers I tried, but of all the beers, De Ranke’s were the finest and for good reason. These beers were actually rather difficult to find, even in a country that sells Rochefort 10 in almost every corner store.
Brewery De Ranke is the epitome of a craft brewery in Belgium. It was founded by two good friends, Nino Bacelle and Guido Devos. For this pair, brewing was a weekend obsession – brewing small batches of what is widely considered the best specialty beers of Belgium. De Ranke beers are consistently robust and flaborful – famous for their massive hoppiness. When I found out that these beers were obtainable in the U.S., I knew I had to include at least one in this blog series.
The Noir De Dottignies is the heaviest ale on De Ranke’s menu. It’s brewed with six different kinds of malt. Massive quantities of Challenger and Sazz hops balance this beer somewhere between perfectly sweet and perfectly bitter.
This beer pours a pristine blend of purple, red and brown. Although this beer is very dark, it’s not quite see through, presenting a noticeable cloudiness in traditional Belgian fashion. The foam is a champagne-like, tan color with very small bubbles. In effect, there is almost no lacing left in the glass.
The aroma of this beer is wonderful. Immediately, you’re punched with a heavy scent of dark fruits, yeast and caramel spiciness. There is also twinge of sourness and dryness that perfects the aroma. The yeast provides a very distinct flavor that rounds out this beer’s smell, offering a balanced earthiness. This is one beer that deserves a deep breath.
Wow. Before I can even get into the initial flavors of this beer, I must say that this beer is complex. It has a lot going on at different times during the first sip. Up front, you are presented with the bold flavors of this beer, dark fruits, figs, caramel and some chocolate. This swirling of flavors lays a fine foundation for the subtleties that are to follow.
Initially, the texture of this beer is quite thin, however, as the beer is swallowed it unravels into velvety wave. This beer then toes the fine line between sweet and dry. All the chocolate and fruit flavors are perfectly complimented by the earthy and dry hops that finish out the beer. The beer ends with a subtle dryness that’s not quite bitter, but more of a tart flavor. I recommend that you let this beer warm up, as the flavors become more pronounced. Lastly, the resulting mouth feel is actually slightly roasty, which alludes to the beer’s darker color. All in all, this is a beer you can’t pass up. It’s terrific.
Where can I find this beer?
In general, its difficult to find Brewery De Ranke’s beers. However, as of late, they have become a hot commodity amidst the emerging craft beer renaissance. As De Ranke’s distribution has grown, more and more beer bars have been able to serve its lucky patrons De Ranke. I happened to pick up this bottle of Noir De Dottignies at City Beer Store in San Francisco, California. If you are lucky, you might be able to find a few other brews from De Ranke’s menu, including: Guldenberg and XX Bitter. I’d also reccommend looking for these beers at The Trappist in Oakland and Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco. Enjoy!
Stay tuned tomorrow for the 9th beer of Christmas!