Tasting the Verboden Vrucht

Brought to you by the makers of Hoegaarden,a Benlgian beer with more life and character than I have ever experienced in a Hoegaarden. De Verboden Vrucht translates to the forbidden fruit, as it is well depicted on the beers label. I ran into this beer accidentally yesterday when out for lunch with friend. The beer menu listed many delicious brews, but this was shown to be one of the last few bottles that they had, and I also hadn’t heard of the beer before.

Its description in the menu as a Spicy Belgian Brown ale at 8.5% abv was enough to coerce me into trying it, plus I thought it would go well with my braised beef shank lunch.

The bottle also has a best before date listed on the back as March 2008; as a bottle conditioned beer, I expect this was a bottle at least older than 2007, perhaps even back to 2005. Just my luck!

You should have seen the sediment dancing in this beer. Wow. It was poured for me appropriately in a wide chalice, and before it was even handed to me I could see the specks of sediment plastered throughout the entire beer! I know some may think its gross, but to me it just shows more rich and deep flavor complexity.

The beer itself was a deep hazy brown. It had shades of burnt amber touching the edges, but it most closely resembled and old brown brick. There was nothing modern about this beer; it was muddy and completely opaque – it was old world, just the way I wanted it. A nice frothy one inch head build atop the beer an a medium dense tan to cream colored foam with streaks of dust (sediment) lined everywhere throughout it.

The nose was quite delectable – mellow sweet touches of caramel malt, hints of earth, yeast and soft dark fruit. It showed traces of mulled spices, dried fruit, lightly roasted malt, and a warm funk which I can only describe as age. There really was a lot of character pouring out from this beer. It did not tell me that it was brewed in a state of the art facility and pasteurized to remain clean. It shouted “I was crafted by some old man’s hands and remain in this bottle the way I came out of the fermenter”. Awesome.

Thankfully it was served to me at the proper temperature at cellar around 12C (54F). Cold would have muted to many flavors. This beer was ready to be enjoyed! I opened my palate to it, and it poured over me gently and wrapped its grip around my entire mouth. Soft earthy malts, caramel and biscuit, faint traces of yeast an funk, mashed bananas, and mulled spices gently – and I mean very gently – washed over my tongue and caressed my cheeks. It was so elegant right away completely taking me by surprise. I was expecting something sharper, but this beer has minimal carbonation by now, is soft and delicate, and glides so effortlessly on the palate.

As I focused, cherries and figs begin to arise, so does notes of red grapes without the peel, more earth, hay field, soft malts, creamy toffee and almost vanilla. It was soft and soothing with sweet and savory characteristics. The mouthfeel was perfect for this beer. It felt authentic. I really did feel like an old man who had been brewing since the ’60s made this in a field in his back yard.

The finish was softly dry, a touch quenching and very appetizing. Hope were only lightly noticeable with a soft and delicate herbal and slightly floral waft hidden under the malt. A touch of bitter came in towards the end, but was very mild. It was an excellent match for the umami sweet and savory flavors of the beef. Really overall a fantastic example of old world brewing at its best. Fully complex with no regard for modern tastes, just pure and unadulterated flavor boating from real malts, real hops, and real yeast. I will be hunting for more of these bottles.

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