Brouwerij Fort Lapin - Bruges La Morte Quadrupel
Serving Temperature:50–57° F
Suggested Glassware:Chalice, Goblet, Tulip, or Snifter Glass
Along with our other featured beer this month, this Belgian quadrupel from Brouwerij Fort Lapin is being brought into the U.S. exclusively for our Rare Beer Club members. This is a dark beer emphasizing a wide range of subtle spiciness, with notes of juniper berries, cloves, coriander, vanilla, and cinnamon. It’s a top-fermented ale that’s refermented in the bottle.
Fort Lapin’s Bruges La Morte Quadrupel pours a deep, dark reddish-brown color, quite red and rather dark even when held up to the light. The liquid is capped by light tan foam with excellent lacing and retention. Some generous initial aromatics lead with dried dark fruits, cinnamon, and sweet vanilla as the topmost notes. Pepper and clove from the Belgian yeast character give this plenty of spicy complexity from the get-go, while the dense caramels and dark-fruit-angled maltiness provide lots of additional depth. These aromatics conjure up an exceptionally handled Belgian quad, with vibrant fruit impacts and toasty, endearing spices.
This shows a full-bodied mouthfeel with tons of rich layered malts, expressive Belgian yeast character, and loads of red and dark fruits throughout. Secondary notes of subtle chocolate, firm core nuttiness, and warming spices add a lot of core complexity here. Much like the Fort Lapin Bruges La Morte Tripel, their quad offers up a surprising amount of endearing details and nuance, even given how expressive great examples of this style can be. Generous, chewy and nutty presence from the specialty malt character, along with a surprising level of multifaceted spice and significant notes of licorice and milk chocolate. Always toasty, spicy, and comforting, with those cinnamon and coriander notes grounding things throughout; the 10% ABV stays surprisingly well hidden. Lasting, delicious finish of clove, spicy pepper, and milk chocolates; a beautiful Belgian quad with restrained sweetness and exquisite spice.
The 10% ABV of this Fort Lapin Quadrupel gives this lots of longevity, and some additional caramelization and sherry notes should go nicely in this big release. But this quad is drinking beautifully from early on—so we’d suggest popping a bottle and deciding whether additional cellaring time seems to make sense for your tastebuds. For pairings: we’re inclined to try this alongside potent options like spicy grilled pork, lamb kebabs, and peppercorn-crusted steak.
Brouwerij Fort Lapin is pretty new on our radar, although the small brewery has been quietly building a reputation over in Belgium. The brewery was first established around the end of 2011 and was founded by Kristof Vandenbussche, who practiced his craft and honed new recipes as a homebrewer while running his own company as a heating engineer. He turned to brewing full-time a little over a decade ago, slowly building the brewery up to its current size, producing around 3,000 hectoliters annually (a little beyond 2,500 barrels a year). Brouwerij Fort Lapin is located approximately ten minutes from the city center of Bruges, just across the water to the northeast. The brewery takes its name from the historical fort of the same name, originally built in 1664, that was designed to protect the commercial hub of Bruges.
We’ve gotten to sample through a number of Kristof’s small-batch releases, and we found the brewery and his manner to be refreshingly matter-of-fact: dedicated to brewing delicious and beautifully detailed Belgian styles, without a lot of accompanying fanfare. It’s the quality of his ingredients and the effort that went into recipe development that truly impressed us.
Kristof tends to avoid brewing extreme beers in favor of well-balanced renditions of more traditional Belgian styles. Fort Lapin has offered a variety of tripels over the years (including the first beer they ever released), along the dubbel style, quadrupel, a cherry-driven kriek, a Belgian wheat beer with healthy additions of cumin and coriander seeds, an amber brewed with hibiscus flowers, and the seasonal Snowlapin: a darker beer brewed with winter spices such as star anise, cloves, and cinnamon. Kristof focuses on sourcing the highest quality of ingredients for each batch, based on home-made recipes, with everything produced on-site at the brewery. He uses exclusively Belgian hops, working with his hop farmer to select the best options from each harvest, and everything is brewed in small batches. The Fort Lapin beers currently see a modest amount of distribution across Europe as well as in Japan, and they’ve done one round of imports into the U.S. so far. For our two featured Rare Beer Club offerings this month, we’re excited to have two Fort Lapin beers imported just for the club.
For those of you traveling out to Belgium anytime soon, Brouwerij Fort Lapin has an on-site tasting room that’s currently open every Saturday from 10am to 6pm, along with a beer shop that’s open Tuesday through Saturday during those same hours. Beers can also be purchased online, and brewery tours are available by appointment, with a cost of 9 Euros per person. A brewery bed and breakfast is also available (the B&B Brouwhuys), with three bedrooms and a sumptuous breakfast served each morning. It’s a short, fifteen-minute walk from the main square in the historical heart of Bruges. Learn more (or book a visit), at fortlapin.com/en/.
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