La Binchoise Spéciale Noël (Reserve Special - USA) - Brasserie La Binchoise (Malterie des Remparts)
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Ratings: 148 | Reviews: 118 | Display Reviews Only:
4.13/5 rDev +2.5%
11.2 oz bottle poured into pint glass
A: Substantial covering foam, but not a big head, beer is pure dark amber, cloudy, lots of floaties
S: Mild, but very distinct, spice, but sweet too, clove, allspice, but not harsh like some
T: Super good flavor, never overpowering, orange zest, clove, maybe some cinnamon, bittering done more by the spices than hops, but accentuated by the hops - can still taste them, long flavor profile, last forever, could use a little bit of something sweet or malty to balance the bitter spice
M: Nice and light, carbonation makes it feel less than medium
D: Good, but could use more substance to balance spice
Notes: Definitely a good winter beer. I love all the spice. They do a good job of mixing all the flavors together into one coherent note. However, it could use a bit more sweet maltiness, especially in a winter beer. The spice bitterness is a little over powering.
02-15-2010 04:53:13 | More by dpodratsky3
4.58/5 rDev +13.6%
My dad actually bought this. Certainly wasn't expecting him to buy something I hadn't reviewed!
Poured into a Chimay chalice. Cloudy gold-orange. Excellent head persistence. Adds up to a very nice-looking goblet of beer!
Aroma is pretty standard per style. Some light pepper, honey, clove.
On the palate, I get a lot of the typical BSPA flavors. Pear, honey, a little pepper, a little hop, little candi sugar. Pound cake malt. Even more than a little coconut. As it warms, There's nothing oddball about this brew. What it is, however, is extremely well-done. The above flavors meld together very well, and come to a dry finish. As per the very best of this style, the 9% alcohol is nowhere to be found, buried well underneath the various flavors. Extremely well-done, I'd have to say. I really like it.
The mouthfeel is right up there with tbe best Belgian artisanal breweries, even the Trappists...well carbonated, but smooth and soft. Wow. I'm really impressed.
Like the very best examples of this style, this is quite drinkable, and would pair well with many foods. I'm convinced that this is *among* the best examples of this style. And my dad picked this out? Becoming a regular Beer Advocate, he is.
01-03-2010 22:29:56 | More by Patrick999
2.65/5 rDev -34.2%
Have to say I was a bit disappointed in this. At first taste, it stopped just short of being sour. It slammed me with a wall of grapefruit-like hoppy bitterness. As it started to open up, the essence became more balanced, but the taste began to fade. Eventually, it faded all together into a slightly citric aftertaste, with slight notes of tangy bitterness.
The nose is hot, with a dry, mildly acidic tinge, expressing hints of carmel.
This is a very delicate beer, and not for those who prefer a heartier fare.
10-31-2009 20:16:19 | More by bjezierski
3.95/5 rDev -2%
A) Appearance was lovely. Very thick with sediment, a deep amber color, off-white head that briefly stuck around leaving thick lacing.
S) Mild smell, cherry/raisins/crackers.
T) Taste was not overwhelming, which to me was a good thing for this style. It was tasty: dark fruits, cherries, bread, a bit of spice at the end. The spicy tang is what stood out to me.
MF) Medium to chewey, well-carbonated.
D) Very good! Sometimes these styles can be too intense for me, especially the dark fruit tastes and high alcohol levels. But with 9% ABV, this was well-balanced, pleasant, and lovely to drink.
This may be my favorite Belgian strong pale ale yet.
07-05-2009 16:38:01 | More by sophisticated
2.58/5 rDev -36%
poured a bottle into an oversized wine glass. think lacey white head that disappeared after a few minutes. a copper color with some sediment that sifted down to the bottom of the glass.
Not as strong an aroma as i would have liked, got a bit of fruitiness and some biscuit but not as much sweetness as i would have liked.
To be honest i wonder if i had a bad bottle because this beer tasted like i was drinking bread. I was really did not enjoy the taste. all the flavors were just a bit dull and most of it was bready. I expected more sweetness and i would probably not have another.
06-16-2009 01:54:55 | More by mikey711
4.53/5 rDev +12.4%
From notes 12-26-08
Done horizontally with Great Divide Hades
Eye: All I have to say is that the color matches the aroma. Color is amber, exactly what the bottle says it is, no better way to describe it. It would be clear but for the sediment that was disturbed whilst opening the bottle. Head started out with a nice fluffy, rocky white head and stablizes at something more reasonable, about a finger's width. Lacing could use work.
Nose: There's a strong and very unique aroma in this beer, something that seems very distant yet so familiar. Aroma is very fruity, whatever this aroma is it is something that I can't quite put a finger on. Very appetizing though, smells great, can't wait to taste it. I almost want to say that it smells like the cherry pipe tobacco that my grandfather used to smoke with hints of vanilla, but I don't think that that is quite right....I've got to nail this down...anyway it smells great, big malt aroma, some oakiness, lots going on with the yeast, tons of fruitiness, caramel tones quietly find their way through that dominant aroma of familiarity.
Tongue: Alcohol is forward here too, but it plays with the fruitiness-cherry-and those seemingly vanilla tones. Alcohol taste is flat out alcohol, yet it is also spicy. And as I said it adds balance, it works with this beer, its forwardness gives depth and balance to this beer. As I dig deeper the more dark malt flavors I get...some hints at chocolate or cocoa. It has a flavor that really reminds me alot of the beer I had the other day, Insanely Bad Elf. What is that, aromatic malt? I'm not really sure, but I know that I like it. Again, similiarites between this and Insanely Bad Elf, the same fruitiness, the same "chocolate covered cherry, less chocolate more cherry" thing. Yet, its not really cherries, more of a hinting at them...real hard to explain. Awesome beer, not necessarily a BSPA, and not a BSDA, Its somewhere inbetween, an Amber...as it states. I mean it is a Belgian Ale, Belgians don't classify, well not really...besides abby single, dubbel, tripel, and quadrupel, there is just ale, be it light or dark or somewhere inbetween as this one is.
Feel and Drinkability: Medium body on the palate with a long lasting aftertaste. Carbonation is lower, very appropriate and delicate. I don't think that this one could be any better, it fits perfectly. This is very easy to drink, this is one that I've been immediately turned on to, and I will be turning people on to it, less I buy all that is left of it first. If you can find it drink it. I can easily see myself drinking this again. Now, this isn't what I quite had in mind when I picked it up, I wanted something "Duvel-esk", this is much better, it hits a totally different spot, a different satisfaction, a satisfaction of finding something new and wonderful, and something that I will compare other amber colored belgians to.
edit: Nose and Tongue-aroma and taste I can't identify is starting to highly resemble the aroma of that hookah that we smoked in clifton with Tony, Tirenan, Matt, Liz, and Kevin....Vanilla and coriander...?
02-22-2009 23:13:23 | More by becktone
4.58/5 rDev +13.6%
750 mL bottle, purchased June 2008, opened 22 Feb 2009.
Divine. These artisanal Belgian brewers continue to impress -- nay, wow -- me. Just when I think I've got the corner on the style potential and profile, I unturn another stone and discover another winner with something new to say.
Appearance: Unassumingly beautiful -- like a shimmering pumpkin in an evening glow. The color of Earl Gray tea, with lots of unflitered goodness swimming through the glass.
Aroma: Rich, mellow malt up front, with generous doses of wildflower honey, bergamot, and a faint twist of piquant hops. Smells like it might be overly sweet.
Taste: A joyride of rich malty warmth, with a twist of apricot, nectarine, and bergamot. Not too sweet at all, it is a garden of malted delights laced with a hint of well-placed subtle hops on the edge.
Palate: A tad bit sticky on the way down, but it tastes so damn delicious that I never want the bottle to end (which, at 9%, is a dangerous proposition!). It warms as it traverses the gullet.
Overall: I must replace this bottle twelvefold. I don't know what the 9 months in the cellar did for this one, not having tried it fresh, but my God this is an amazing beer. A keeper for sure!
Oddly, I'm thinking good, rich Mexican/Latino cuisine with this one -- not your generic bean burrito, mind you, but the real authentic stuff, like homemade Mole sauce over wood-baked chicken, or those fried-and-baked taquitos that my Costa Rican nanny used to make. (Drooling on keyboard....)
An artisanal cheese plate would be splendid here as well -- or baked brie.
02-22-2009 22:59:20 | More by drperm
4.05/5 rDev +0.5%
Picked up a bottle for about $3 from Abe's. Poured a hazy dark amber with an off-white head. The aroma has a rich, spiced plum element to it, while the flavor has a fruity apple-caramel melt profile with a hint of dry, minerals (sort of like a German pils). Digging a little deeper I get slight cranberry and raspberry notes in the taste and smooth candi sugar caramel in the aroma. The beer is a bit sweet, and too much so for some people, but I'm a fan and would drink this again. Reminds me of a little of St. Bernardus. Tasty.
01-26-2009 22:41:24 | More by tempest
3.73/5 rDev -7.4%
Reviewed from notes.
Poured from a corked 750ml bottle into a Fin Du Monde tulip glass. Gentle pour yields a scant head that barely makes an effort to rise. No lacing. Color is an orange amber.
Nose- Candied fruits, peaches and oranges. No hop profile. Some light caramel.
Palate- Candied fruits, peaches, pears, oranges. Moderate sweetness. Extraordinarily carbonated. Slight yeastiness, and an underlying tartness. Very light, and crisp. Notes of vanilla in the finish, booze is well hidden.
Mouthfeel- Very active. Slightly syrupy.
A little sweet for me but very drinkable.
01-06-2009 01:01:52 | More by Kraken
4.33/5 rDev +7.4%
Appearance: After I removed the cage, the cork exploded out of the neck when I grazed it with my finger; fortunately, I was not looking down at the bottle, or I would be reviewing this beer with a black eye or worse. After that initial excitement, the beer poured a very dark amber into a tulip. A two-finger off-white head lingers.
Smell: Tart fruit and citrus, with a faint hint of the high ABV to come.
Taste: There's a lot going on here: there's more of the tart fruit, along with honey-like sweetness, spiciness, a fair amount of alcohol heat and a surprise visit from some hops that I can't identify. It is initially a little jumbled, but actually works together very well once you have a few sips.
Mouthfeel: Pretty high on the carbonation scale, which works for this beer.
Drinkability: This is one to savor... there's too much going on to drink it quickly.
01-04-2009 00:04:22 | More by rdickey
4.22/5 rDev +4.7%
Pours Orange amber color with a decent head and patchy lace.
The aroma of fruit/berries,coriander and citrus notes.
The taste was sweet,fruity,light malts,hop hints and coriander with some alcohol warmth in the finish.
The feel medium body and low carbonation.Creamy and smooth.
Notes: A very good beer and I can tell you this is a hit with the ladies and by saying that I do not want to imply that this is not a man's beer; just saying that it does not taste like typical beer.
I liked it and I found the balance to my suiting. I will look forward to my next bottle.
10-27-2008 03:54:33 | More by Lexluthor33
3.88/5 rDev -3.7%
Stored in my cellar awhile, perhaps contributing to, initially, some woody mustiness,some charred, and then orange and corriander. Creamy toffee mouthfeel, some raspberry and bannana. Sweet nose, a bit of yeast. Not a pale.Nice soapy head.Interesting.
10-16-2008 04:54:30 | More by Sammy
4/5 rDev -0.7%
Poured a hazy golden amber color with a substantial creamy head.
Aroma reminiscent of a variety of fruit - some citrus, some more of dates and raisins - reminded me a bit of mixed fruit salad.
The taste was a bit sweeter than I usually prefer, but without being cloying.
Smooth, velvety mouthfeel made for a good, well-rounded beer. Quite pleasant and drinkable, and one I will enjoy again.
09-15-2008 23:55:15 | More by TheLiterati
4.15/5 rDev +3%
Had at the Stone 12th anniversary.
Poured a hazy amber red. Smelled sweet, like overripe fruit and malt.
Taste was very nice, sweet fruit, some tropical notes, high malt content. Could have done with some balancing hops or other flavor, but for what it is, very nice. One of the least "beer-like" Belgians pales I've ever had. Barely qualifies in the style.
Carbonation level was a bit low, could have used with some livening up.
08-19-2008 01:20:05 | More by Overlord
4.47/5 rDev +10.9%
Another dirty old 750ml this one stamped 6/04! Poured in my large Gulden Draak tulip, the Reserve Special is hazy copper with a large, light khaki head that's long lasting, leaving heavy lace.
Smell is sweet tropical fruits, curacao, wildflower honey and light alcohol, liqueur like. A bit medicinal, like a tasty children's cough syrup.
Taste is rich, with a soft sweet fruitiness. Sherry, honey, toffee, and spicy oranges and hops. Fairly well rounded, but with a dry edge from the spices and alcohol. Nice depth, a great after dinner sipper.
Mouthfeel is very luscious and creamy, really fantastic. Big richness but still lighter viscosity.
Drinkability is very good, another fantastically complex, sophisticated, 4 year old masterpiece from Brasserie La Binchoise. It begged to be paired the Rivers Edge Cheve, Roasted Hazelnut and Frangelico Torte I had in my fridge, which worked fantastically.
04-21-2008 03:32:15 | More by ccrida
4.2/5 rDev +4.2%
On tap a little while ago at the Brick Store. Served, as usual, in branded glassware. Pours a hazy burnt orange with a dense head that settles to a ring. Smells just like apricot nectar with a faint almond/apricot kernel finish. Taste is similar, but not as laser bright- instead a bit muddier but there are also nice mineral flavors and a long finish. Medium bodied, not sticky, a bit creamy, comes off a bit light, fruity, and slightly dessert like overall, even though it is not overly sweet. I enjoyed it.
04-16-2008 23:16:08 | More by Georgiabeer
3.28/5 rDev -18.6%
750 ML bottle copped caged and corked from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield...
"Artisanal Amber Ale" on the front logo sticker with two angels...
An aggressive pour yielded a light brown, caramel color with a minimal frothy head that soon receded, leaving barely any lacing...
A citrus, vanilla aroma dominated this one, not too strong, or with any immediately recognizable smells, but slight toffee and cream...
Very funny, different, medicinal-like taste, a mixture between grapefruits, pineapple, toffee, and vanilla - go figure... It was difficult to pinpoint this one, but the medicinal factor really stood out in my mind as being a predominant characteristic of this one...
Slightly watery, loose mouthfeel, and the drinkability took a hit due to the eccentric flavor and lack of depth...
Hardly a classic beer... average to say the least...
03-12-2008 00:18:39 | More by dsa7783
British Columbia (Canada)
4.43/5 rDev +9.9%
A: pours a hazy, nutty brown with an off-white, frothy head that has decent retention and leaves a slight lace.
S: strong floral hop and yeast aromas with touches of banana and spice.
T: Beautiful, bright, ripe fruitiness and slight caramel sweetness (not too sweet, which is nice!). Beautifully balances and complex flavours. A subtle nuttiness on the long finish.
M: medium to light bodied, crisp and an incredibly smooth finish.
D: What a gorgeous beer! I can't believe it has such a high ABV, you would never know as the alcohol is hidden beautifully. The flavours are so well put together, I deeply regretted when my glass was empty...good thing I bough a few more!
01-04-2008 02:50:31 | More by Graham5161986
3.9/5 rDev -3.2%
Bottle courtesy of mgermani: Poured a deep clear amber color ale with a big foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma if totally dominated by ginger with some caramel malt also discernable. Taste is quite heavy on the ginger with some light medium-sweet caramel malt notes. Body is thinner then expected with some great carbonation and alcohol is really well hidden. Definitely not what I was expected but very interesting nonetheless.
01-02-2008 19:59:40 | More by Phyl21ca
4.2/5 rDev +4.2%
Pours a clouded amber. Light tan head. Nose is fruity with some kriek and raspberry lambic kind of tones. Flavor is a slight fruit with a sourness on the same level. This is like a lambic, a flanders red, and a Belgian ale mixed into one. But more so leaning towards the flanders. Feel is smooth on the liquid, but a bit thin. Nice carbonation to it. Overall very drinkable. Smooth and well defined. Worth trying.
01-01-2008 12:08:36 | More by RblWthACoz
3.78/5 rDev -6.2%
Pours a cloudy amber/orange color with plenty of head.
Smell is a bit weak but can make out some fruity aromas.
The taste though is immediately spiced from so many sources it hard to make them all out, cloves, orange, coriander ... This beer is not subtle but instead attacks your mouth with flavors.
Drinks with plenty of carbonation and the aftertaste is almost sour/tart with the hops not contributing too much.
12-24-2007 01:01:59 | More by deltatauhobbit
3.65/5 rDev -9.4%
Pours with a frothy, four-finger thick, tan colored head. The beer sits in my glass a darkish, amber colored, red tinted color and shows a brilliantly clear, deep reddish copper color when held up to the light. An interesting mix of spice and malt meets my nose upon the first smell. Fruit aromatics are also noticed and lean towards notes of aromatic, tart apples, touches of plum, pear and even some wine grape like notes (mostly white varietals, but also a touch of berry like red varietals). The aroma is lightly woody, but sharply aromatic with various esters and phenols; spice notes of ginger, white pepper, clove and that previously mentioned wood like note are all noticeable among the melange of aromatics. Malt aromatics of toasted grain, lightly browned soda crackers, dusty malt and a substantial fresh, whole grain bread note really perk up towards the middle and finish. This really has quite an interesting note, the yeast character really shines here, but has a nice backdrop of supporting malt character to hold it up.
Some zippy carbonation provides a touch of fizz as this first hits my tongue. The beer is lightly sweet and fruity with notes of aromatic apple varieties, raisins, and a touch of tart / sweet plum. A back note of malt provides some structure with austere flavors of crushed pale malt, dried biscuit notes and a lingering, lightly astringent toasted grains husk note in the far finish. Pretty light bodied for a beer of this strength, but it does have a medium heft to it; at times (especially with the interaction of light tartness and light sweetness found in this beer) it can even be down right quaffable. The flavor is not as spicy as the flavor was, but there is still a solid yeast contribution here; flavors of clove, a touch of white pepper, some ginger and a hint of a spicy oak flavor. The finish has a certain astringency to it that seems contributed by a mix of alcohol flavors and perhaps some phenolics and additional esters. This provides a bit of sharpness and at times seems a bit like cardamom in the finish.
This is an interesting beer. I really like the nose on this one initially. Somehow the flavor did not quite deliver, though it is still pretty complex and flavorful. The relative light body was also quite welcome, but somehow I just feel that the beer taken as a whole is missing a little something that would make it quite good.
Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ
12-14-2007 02:16:10 | More by Gueuzedude
3.85/5 rDev -4.5%
I had a couple extra dollars from a poker game so that means bottle poppin time. The color is reddish orange with a very small yet tenacious head. The smell is yeasty and makes me think of candied, caramelized sugar. Also a slight musty, earthy smell that I find in a lot of Belgians (maybe its me?). The carbonation is prickly on my mouth and the finish is sugary with some dryness. This reminds me of the Caracole amber I had some time ago but this is less cloying and more enjoyable. I thought this beer had a nice smell, good flavors but I am still unsure whether or not I care for this style.
11-13-2007 16:14:30 | More by ArrogantB
4.55/5 rDev +12.9%
Cage-corked bottle, poured into a tulip glass:
Pours orange/amber with a two-finger head that fairly quickly descends to a thin covering. Not much lacing sticks.
The smell is of spiced bread - floral - slightly grassy with a hint of caramel.
The taste is of caramel and bread. Plenty of spicing adorns this treat, esp. clove, coriander, orange peel and black pepper. Somewhat herbal, slightly medicinal and floral features weave in and out of caramel maltiness. As it warms. earthy, slightly grassy, notes come through. As it continues even more, fruitiness comes through - strawberry and tropical fruits - banana, kiwi, etc. Spiciness is assertive in the finish, but not overwhelming. The taste is a work of art, as the malt, yeast, and hops interact very well and change (and linger) as it progresses.
Light-to-medium bodied - the flavor lingers, along with a peppery edge. The alcohol, hidden in the peppery taste, creeps up.
This is a complex, delicious sipping treat that almost borders overwhelming at times, but is so much a work of art that invites the drinker to continue. A must-try! Like the label, it is angelic.
09-06-2007 02:01:25 | More by jwc215
4.95/5 rDev +22.8%
Glowing, yet dark amber-peach color with mountains of off-white foam. Damp aromatics of dewy fruits, primarily apricots and peaches, wet wood, and basements. Cushioned passion fruit sweetness initially, the first of many fruity masks it dons. Switches to pineapple, then to apricots, where it seems to linger for a moment and let the yeast catch up. A mildewed concrete sensation seeps in, as does some rotted wood, and a general sense of humidity. The fruity hues are pushed aside, momentarily, for a organic cycle of decay and rebirth. Fruitiness resumes with mushy pears, green apples, cinnamon, and diluted peach schnapps filtered through cedarwood. A herbal, spicy hopping closes things and provides immaculate dryness and palatal cleansing. Just touches of lingering sour fruit and leafy plants afterward. Akin to apple sauce in the mouth. Lightly mushy, flavorful and ever-so-delicate. No rough edges, and no alcohol noted whatsoever. Perilous in its drinkability.
This is an absolute jewel. Absoultely beautiful!
09-03-2007 20:51:02 | More by Maracuja
La Binchoise Spéciale Noël (Reserve Special - USA) from Brasserie La Binchoise (Malterie des Remparts)
90 out of 100 based on 148 ratings.