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Belgian Quadruple

Other reviews for this beer:
Eddie Glick one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer read it ›
New Glarus Brewing Company
New Glarus, WI

Style: Abt/Quadrupel

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

I must say, Nigel is becoming a bit worried about the sanity of one Eddie Glick. First of all, a few months ago he decided we should sell some merchandise. Great idea. At least it WAS a great idea until Nigel saw that one of the first items available was an Eddie Glick autographed thong. Uh, Eddie, new rule: in order to sell autographed thongs, you first need to see a girl with her pants off (please note computer porn and strip clubs don't count). I know the dates must be rolling in as a beer-drinking computer nerd who lives in his parents basement, but until you actually see- in person- a sexy girl in a thong, leave the autographing to yours truly (or maybe Jug- I hear homebrewers get all the chicks). My merchandising idea is a Nigel Tanner autographed beatin' stick, which helps you keep the Irish at bay while you enjoy a good craft brew.

My latest reason to worry about Eddie's sanity came last week. Nigel was preparing to write a review for New Glarus Belgian Quadruple, when Eddie kindly asked him to hold off, as he was about to review it. No problem- I had other brews I could review (and Brewer games to watch), and I wasn't about to argue with the head honcho. So what happens? Dude gives it only THREE mugs! WHAT? I had been excited to read the review, wondering what a fellow Beer Dork thought about another one of New Glarus' fine limited edition releases, and BOOM- right off the bat, I see the rating and go into shock. After reading his reasoning behind the rating all I can say to Eddie is this: who the hell died and made you king of Belgium?

So, what are Nigel's impressions of Belgian Quadruple? Honestly, I thought Eddie made some good points. First of all, I agree that this does not taste like an authentic Belgian ale. It's a very unique, sweeter American take on the ballsy Belgian Quadruple, and it packs a MAJOR punch at 11.2% abv (Nigel is offering $20 to anyone who can drink a four-pack in less than 2 hours; is not liable for anyone who is stupid enough to do this and ends up in detox). The sweetness combined with the high abv makes this a sipping beer, and two over the course of an evening is probably about max for anyone, unless you're trying to prove a point. However, I don't deduct mugs for its lack of Belgian "authenticity" for this reason: New Glarus, Wisconsin is not in Belgium (remember that, kids), so this is NOT an authentic Belgian Ale; nor is it supposed to be. It's an American craft brew that is INSPIRED by the Belgian Quadruple, and is not meant to be a copy of an authentic Belgian. Any craft brewer worth their weight in gold will tell you that they are trying to brew new and unique ales that often fall into certain categories, but are not meant to be carbon copies of their predecessors. Thus, I find New Glarus' take on the Belgian Quadruple to be a breath of fresh air, as they have created a brew that is not typically attempted by American brewers, and the result is a powerful, tasty, and very unique beverage.

Belgian Quadruple failed to get the five mug Nigel Hall-of-Fame treatment for one reason only: while certainly tasty, this brew had too much of that dreaded alcohol flavor that can plague such high abv brews. You may be saying "Uh, Nigel, this is just over 11% abv- what the hell do you expect?". Well, yes, but as someone who has come to expect only the finest from New Glarus, I was VERY disappointed to taste the over-abundance of alcohol. Quality craft brewers should cover this up, particularly in a brew that has as many other flavors as a Belgian, and I'm very surpirsed that New Glarus failed to do this.

Ok, my one gripe is out of the way. The rest of the experience was fantastic. The beer pours beautifully; a deep, dark reddish/golden brown hue, with a mild head on the pour that evaporates into a slight creamy trace at the top of the glass. Like Eddie said, it truly is a fine looking brew. The smell is a harbinger of the sweetness that is to come. Very sugary and very fruity; caramel, banana, and cherry dominate, with a hint of cloves and corriander. The sweetness struck me, as I was not expecting it to be so extreme. Black cherry hit me first, along with a zesty citrus flavor of orange and grapefruit, with a spiciness that is unique to Belgians (cloves, corriander, and habanero pepper- ok, I'm kidding about that last one). After the initial fruity sweetness, the sugary sweetness of the caramel malt kicks in, with a distinct smokey undertone that makes for one of the most unique taste sensations I've ever had in a brew. Don't get me wrong, I've tasted better beer, but few can make me say "wait... what the hell was that" about three times in one sip. The flavor rush is tempered at the end by a noticeable hit of alcohol- honestly, it reminded me of drinking a fine Bourbon or Scotch the way it went down at the end. While, like Eddie said, Belgian Ales tend to have that almost champagne-like sensation, I still felt the alcohol aftertaste was far too extreme. It's on the heavier end of the spectrum for a Belgian, but still medium bodied, and it has a syrupy thickness that coats the tongue a bit, making for a strong aftertaste, especially when combined with the alcohol.

All in all, I would rate this a solid four mugs, but if you try it, don't expect to be tasting an authentic Belgian brew, and do expect to get buzzed really quickly. Kudos to New Glarus for another fine offering in the Unplugged series, but please: ease up next time, as I'd rather not use a fine brew to disinfect my papercuts.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on May 3, 2007.
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