Beer Review: Lone Eagle Brewing’s Belgian Dark Strong

Name: Belgian Dark Strong
Brewing Company: Lone Eagle Brewing Company
Location: Flemington, NJ
Style: Belgian Dark Strong
ABV: 8.2%

The beer came out of the tap at the brewery, but the four packs of cans are sold there, too. And most liquor stores in NJ.

From Lone Eagle’s beers page (which changes regularly):

This Belgian Ale has notes of dark fruits such as figs and plums as well as some slight oak aroma and flavors. It has a nice malty taste with a slightly dry finish. After this beer was done fermenting we aged if on rum soaked oak chips from our friends at Skunktown Distillery.

Lone Eagle was one of the first breweries I featured in a brewery spotlight here at the Tap Takeover, so it is about time I got around to reviewing one of their beers. Especially since I’ve been there quite frequently. Be that as it may, here’s a relatively new beer from them, first brewed in Late October, I think.

One thing I’ve appreciated about Lone Eagle is the variety of styles they have on tap. You’re not going to be drowned in 10 out of the 14 taps being IPAs. This is a very classic style, and one that is really suited for cold weather / Winter months. The beer isn’t exactly black like a stout, but you could say it is almost a Belgian approximation of a stout (as they typically don’t brew stouts). Rather the beer is almost black with hints of deep crimson. I couldn’t get the best picture of the beer since the brewery was very crowded, the upstairs loft had a band playing Christmas Songs and Santa was in attendance, too.

I couldn’t get much of a nose on the beer, but could smell a bit of sweetness and some of the hints of the typical flavors evoked by Belgian yeast.

First sip gave me a little bit of a wow – more flavorful than I would have expected. Sweetness and some spice mix up nicely in the glass and in the mouth. The 8.2%ABV is fairly typical of the style, so the little bit of booziness shouldn’t be a surprise. I suspect that may also come from the rum chips that were soaking in the beer because there is a little sweetness on the finish atypical from other Belgian Darks I’ve had in the past.

As I continue to make my way through the beer, the full flavor profile really comes together. You’ve got the characteristic spice & esters from the yeast adding stone fruity flavors to the mix. You’ve got a hint of booziness from the inherit presence of the alcohol and enhancement of the rum-soaked oak chips. All told for me, a pleasing beer.

Like many of Lone Eagle’s beers, this one is out in distribution throughout much of New Jersey and maybe Pennsylvania and New York…or wherever their footprint reaches. As I said, I’m impressed with the variety of styles Lone Eagle attempts and while not all are out of the park hits, just about all of them have been enjoyable interpretations of the style. Which is the case for this beer.

I also appreciate the local/community collaboration with Skunktown Distillery, which is also in Flemington. I haven’t visited the distillery yet myself. But that collaborative and community spirit is a great strength of Lone Eagle and has been since day one.

Recommended link to Untappd 3.75-Bottle Cap rating.

Beer Review: Trappistes Rochefort 8

Name: Trappistes Rochefort 8
Brewing Company: Brasserie de Rochefort
Location: Rochefort, Belgium
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 9.4%

Maybe not my best pour, but look at that fluffy head

From the beer’s description on Belgium Tourism’s Website :

History and provenance are readily apparent, in the taste of the 8. Ever since the 1960s, Rochefort’s own yeast culture has produced those characteristic esters in its divine brews.

Rochefort 8 is considered the ‘lad’ among the three Rochefort beers, with its green-bottle cap hat, which first saw light in 1954. This youngest member of the family straightaway received a warm welcome, after its commissioning by one particular (and rather important) client. One year on, and it was made an official addition to what is now the Rochefort trio, and marketed as a ‘spéciale’. Some still refer to it by this name.

The Rochefort 8 is a beer to be savoured at your leisure. Not too dense, it goes down easily, quietly sparkling. The alcohol in the finish never lets you forget that this is an authentic degustation beer, one that cannot be hurried along. It is sweet and chocolatey, pleasant but certainly never boring. The same can be said of the alcohol content – it makes itself known, but it never overpowers, leaving plenty of room for all the rich subtlety to be found in a glass of the 8.

If beer is said to be liquid bread, then Trappist Rochefort 8 is a great example of that ideal. Trappist beers are relatively rare, there are certain rules and regulations around what is considered a Trappist Brewery, Rochefort is one of only a eleven breweries in the world that can be called a Trappist Ale, and is a classic example of a Trappist Brewery in Belgium. The Abbey in Rochefort has been brewing since 1595 so, like last week’s beer from Weihenstephan, this beer can be considered a European Classic.

So what can one expect from a beer brewed by an Abby that’s been around for over 800 years and brewing beer for a majority of that time? A lot of complexity. The yeast in this one releases a bounty of flavors that will appeal to beer lovers who appreciate low-hopped, dark, bready beers with hints of fruit. This is a beer to enjoy over time and not one to consume quickly.

The beer pours brown from the bottle and, at least with my bottle, a very fluffy tan head. The aroma hits your nose and invites you to linger for a bit to give your taste buds an idea of what to expect. A “Belgian Strong Dark Ale” is almost like a stout, largely from the hue of the beer and the robust nature of the flavor profile, but it isn’t quite a stout either. At least this one is fairly far removed from a stout.

The first hints are of a malty, thick beer that will linger on the palate. I didn’t quite get the plum flavor evocations in the taste profile others claim to taste, but I definitely get the banana hints from the yeast. Or maybe my palate is unaccustomed to plums, especially as a flavor component in a beer. There’s also a spice flavor laced throughout the beer that isn’t quite clove, nor is it too assertive. Rather, it gives the beer a very well-rounded flavor profile. That was all on just the first couple of sips of the beer.

This beer warms up real nice. As it gets closer to room temperature, the flavors come out more prominently. Maybe the plum hints come through as the beer warms, because I get *something* that is a bit of a fruity taste, but not the banana evocation I tasted initially. Maybe something earthier like figs, I don’t know, but I like it quite a bit.

At 9.4%, this one does have a noticeable bite of alcohol. This beer has a quality similar to barrel aging that gives stouts an extra kick, but it is welcome in this beer and not too overpowering. Of course I took my time drinking this beer over the course of maybe 45 minutes to an hour. There’s not a lot of filtration going on here, so expect some yeast particulates to linger at the bottom of the glass, even thicker from this bottle than I’d come to expect from a Bavarian Hefeweizen. Some people think those particulates are the best part of the beer. I was a little wary of finishing them off, but what allowed the flavor of the beer to evolve even in the last few sips was swirling the beer with those particulates, which continued to release flavor bursts.

This is the second Belgian style brew I’ve reviewed here at The Tap Takeover and the first from an actual Belgian brewery. I’m coming to thoroughly enjoy the beer produced by the Belgian brewing methodologies and Belgian ingredients, particularly the yeast which gives the beer the robust flavor, a great deal. This is a beer worth trying once. I know I’ll be trying more of the Trappist Ales in the future.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4-star rating.