Brasserie Dubuisson - Scaldis Triple
- ABV: 10.5%
- Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip or Snifter
Scaldis Triple pours a slightly hazy, butterscotch blond color, capped by a healthy, lustrous white head. Notes of cloves and spice abound, as do notes of orchard fruits—with an emphasis on orange and peach. Look for a subtle butterscotch note, supplemented by suggestions of honey and more Belgian yeastiness. We also picked up a whiff of cardamom and green peppercorns, with a flash of vanilla and lemon zest. The entire bouquet is cradled by a slightly musty, barnyard-y funkiness. On the palate, expect many of the notes experienced on the nose to manifest. More fruits develop, including apricots, pears and white grapes. Complex but subtle—there’s quite a bit going on in this remarkably tasty big beer. Look for suggestions of champagne and lemons, as well as peppercorns and quite a bit of vanilla. Being a 21 proof beer, the alcohol is detected, but is more of a flavor and balance contributor than a bringer of heat. In fact, the ABV helps balance the sweetness of the malt in the finish with a touch of astringency. Also finishes with a firm but balancing hoppy bitterness and ends up impressively dry for the style. As a connoisseur of better beer, you may already be familiar with the Scaldis name—once the strongest ale in Belgium. It made its way to the US as a must try for those seeking to taste the limits of what beer could be at the extreme ABV scale. What was more impressive about that beer was how palatable it was, since beers in this alcoholic strength tend to be heavy and overly sweet. The late beer writer Michael Jackson described it as “… a clean, soft, beautifully rounded palate, chewy and nutty; with a superb balance of clean, dry, long, spicy hoppiness in the finish.” While 12% ABV may not be all that impressive to today’s beer drinkers, consider that the beer was first produced 79 years ago, and the recipe has not changed since. Talk about being ahead of the curve—it was downright visionary. Scaldis Triple is one of the youngest variations in the Scaldis line, having been created in just 2008. It is the least distributed of the entire brand, with roughly 200 cases having been sold in limited markets in the last year. A fine bottle-conditioned ale of high ABV, this is a great beer for cellaring. Wonderfully vibrant and fresh right now, it will continue to mature for up to 2 years, so grab a few extra bottles to squirrel away. But do enjoy some now, it’s also brilliant fresh.
Brasserie Dubuisson has been brewing continuously since 1769, when it was founded as the brewery of the estate of Domaine de Ghyssegnies, across the road from its present location. To put that into context, that was before Belgium was a country, and before the famed Trappist breweries of Belgium. It has been in the Dubuisson family since at least the 1890s. The name Dubuisson translates to “bush” in English. At the end of the First World War, the brewery was liberated by a British battalion. In appreciation, the brewery adopted the English spelling of their name as the moniker for their beers. In Belgium, the English spelling of bière, beer, was (and is) commonly used, hence, the nicely alliterative name of “Bush Beer” was adopted as far back as 1933. The term Bush Beer doesn’t conjure up thoughts of great, artisanal beer for most US consumers, since we know Busch Beer (with a “c”) as a rather bland light lager. However, in Belgium, Bush is recognized (at least regionally) as some of the finest, and for many years, the strongest beer made in the country (at 12-13%). Unfortunately, when Bush Beer made its way to America, it ran up against the Anheuser-Busch brand (and perhaps even their lawyers), so, to set themselves apart from the Busch beers, they renamed the brands (in the US and some other export markets) Scaldis, which is the Latin spelling of Belgium’s greatest river, the Schelde.
Today led by Hugues Dubuisson, the eighth-generation family member to direct the business, Brasserie Dubuisson is still located in the province of Hainaut, the richest agricultural region in Belgium. It therefore comes as little surprise to us that the Scaldis beers tend to feature complex and fresh orchard fruit notes, as well as ultra-clean grain notes, and often, quite a bit of nuttiness. They’ve continued to focus diligently on their beers, even through a recent period of growth, and that means these beers remain traditional, offering up welcomed time capsules in each bottle.
Notably, Hugues co-founded the Belgian Family Brewers Guild, dedicated to highlighting the contributions made by independent brewers, and making it easier for all consumers, beer lovers and regular beer drinkers alike, to distinguish between authentic independent brews and “label beers” that simply claim to be “Belgian.” It seems this brewery has tried to fight confusion about its beers for at least the past 30 years—be it “Busch” vs. “Bush” beer, or production by Belgian families vs. faceless bigger Belgian brands, and in their efforts, have enhanced the global beer landscape through education. Of course, learning about beer is made all the more interesting with such top shelf offerings—and Brasserie Dubuisson has been offering the same for generations. The Scaldis Triple we’ve selected for our members this month embodies this perfectly—we’re sure you’ll enjoy it. Cheers!
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