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
We’re closing out this special offer with two incredible holiday beers. First off is the Xmas Blend 2021 from Belgium’s Brouwerij De Halve Maan. Our earliest samples of this beer had the barrels listed as Burgundy wine, port, and an undisclosed third, while final bottles landing to our Rare Beer Club members will be less mysterious. 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. Definitely 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.
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