Brouwerij De Halve Maan - Straffe Hendrik Xmas Blend 2021
- ABV: 11%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 52–59° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Chalice, or Goblet
Our samples of the Straffe Hendrik Xmas Blend 2021 had the barrels listed as Burgundy wine, port, and an undisclosed third. We loved the 2018 version of Straffe Hendrik Xmas Blend, which was aged inside a combination of Bordeaux, Calvados, and rum barrels, and this newest edition takes that earlier presentation up another notch entirely.
Straffe Hendrik Xmas Blend 2021 pours a dark caramel brown with honeyed edges, capped by off-white foam. There’s some densely developed caramelization and dark fruits apparent from the initial pour, while the barrels contribute some deep berries and honeyed character, lightly tannic vinous elements, as well as toasty oak and almond. The regular Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel is itself a delicious quad, and this Xmas Blend uses that firm structure to support some highly generous spent-barrel and toasted-oak impacts.
A full mouthfeel highlights the layered caramelization, chewy core malt, and richly integrated barrel character here. There’s a chewy and smooth caramel focus running throughout, while those port and Burgundy barrels contribute vibrant counterpoints of deep, plush fruits and berries. Don’t expect any sort of spicy, Christmas-y impact here; this is beautifully blended Belgian quad, aged across a number of years, impacted by deeply expressive barrels. This one’s our favorite release in the Straffe Hendrik line to date, and a beautifully appointed holiday blend that does a great job balancing its base beer and its barrel influences.
Straffe Hendrik Xmas Blend 2021 is appropriate for some cellaring time. The brewery gives an upper range of five years, and we’ve had three-year-old versions of their 2018 blend that were exceptional. For pairings, we’d use that combination of dense caramels, red fruits, and honeyed elements alongside some pork tenderloin, Crème brûlée, or vanilla-driven desserts.
This month, we’re proud to bring you a very special beer from a world class brewery and one of our favorites, Brouwerij De Halve Maan. Leon Maes, aka Henri I, became the owner of Brouwerij De Halve Maan in 1856. After many “Hendriks,” fifth generation brewer Veronique Maes, being one of the first female brewers in Belgium at that time, enters in 1981. That same year, being dedicated to making exceptional beer which captured the heritage and history of the brewery, she brewed the first Straffe Hendrik, an homage to all the brewers before her. Straffe Hendrik became the most important beer the brewery made and set the course for the next four decades and beyond.
The 2021 Straffe Hendrik Xmas Blend is a special blended quad that’s not part of the brewery’s standard lineup and is produced only from time to time as a vintage beer. It is made up of Quadrupel ales that were aged in Burgundy and port barrels, among others, then blended with young Quadrupel ale, to form this unique celebratory beer – a special blend that brings forth complex notes of dark fruit, deep connections to the barrels it is aged in, and a welcome, warming drinkability.
The Straffe Hendrik Xmas Blend is only imported to the U.S. once every three years, and only in very limited quantities, so we’re very excited to have the opportunity to present an allocation of this incredible 2021 edition to our Rare Beer Club members. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
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