De Ranke Père Noël
Serving Temperature:50-55° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Goblet (or Chalice), Large Wine Glass
We can’t think of the last time we had anything other than an excellent beer from Brouwerij De Ranke. We’ve highlighted their delicious Guldenberg and Noir De Dottignies in the Rare Beer Club over the past few years, as some of our members may recall. And we certainly do drink our fair share of De Ranke’s brilliant XX Bitter and Kriek each year. But it’s their Père Noël that we’ve been most enamored with lately: slightly bulkier than their XX Bitter, at 7% ABV, but embittered by the very same expressive Brewer’s Gold and Hallertau hop varieties.
Père Noël goes into the glass beautifully, pouring a hazy copper color topped by dense, light-tan foam that lasts and laces as one would hope. It looks sturdy: well made and conditioned by its time in the bottle. Assertive notes of white pepper come forth first from the glass, that phenolic bitterness adding a nice edge to the richer notes that follow. Herbal and grassy hop aromatics show through right alongside the pepper, while from the core emerge notes of tea, caramelized sugars, apple, and ripe pear. Everything comes together in a fruity, spicy profile.
Words that we almost always like to see on beer labels include unpasteurized and unfiltered, both of which appear significantly on Père Noël’s front label beneath Belgian Christmas Ale, which falls into the same category. This bottle-conditioned Belgian ale also includes licorice, a questionably festive ingredient that works great here, and the lively and creamy carbonation keeps everything more than aloft. As within the aromatics, the bitterness impacts the tongue initially, with yeasty pepper and an herbaceous hop character—the edginess here, as with the XX Bitter, never oversteps into astringency. Though more filled out than its counterpart, the Père Noël certainly shares that beer’s effortless drinkability. Ripe fruitiness emerges after the bitterness, just a step behind, with pears and bittersweet apples and even some fresh lemon.
Overall, taking a short step back, Père Noël certainly fits the brewery’s description for it: “a Christmas ale, though very different from any other Christmas ales you might know.” We’re kind of at a loss for similar Christmas ales. This beer is like De Ranke XX bulked up for the holidays, with a well-implemented hint of licorice, and bottles of it should age well for years.
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