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Val-Dieu Winter - Brasserie de l'Abbaye du Val-Dieu

Not Rated.
Val-Dieu WinterVal-Dieu Winter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

32 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 32
Reviews: 23
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 13.4%
Wants: 1
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Brasserie de l'Abbaye du Val-Dieu visit their website

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: PorterLambic on 01-11-2005

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 32 | Reviews: 23 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Stoutsman
2/5  rDev -50.4%

Photo of desint
3/5  rDev -25.6%

Photo of brentk56
3.42/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a burnt caramel brown body with a thick tan head; excellent retention and lacing

Smell: An awful lot of yeast in the aroma (reminds me of proofing baker's yeast); some grape and caramel odors in the background

Taste: As with the aroma, the yeast flavor is very prominent and somewhat overwhelms the caramel malt, grape and dark fruit; mid-palate strkes a strong herbacious bitter flavor (perhaps there are some seasonal spices in there, too) which, however, provides balancing complexity with milk chocolate flavors through to the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with lots of carbonation; warming alcohol appears on the finish

Drinkability: Complex and different; not my favorite BSDA because of the yeast profile, but intriguing nonetheless

Photo of TheLiterati
3.46/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a goblet a deep, rich brown. Smells of fruit - raisins and grapes as another BA mentioned. I also agree with that BA's assessment of this ale having a soda-like aroma. Sweet on the nose and the palate, but not necessarily cloying.

Mouthfeel is smooth as is the taste. Nothing overwhelmingly outstanding, but a good solid strong, dark ale.

Photo of ccrida
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml poured into my Gouden Carolus goblet, the Winter abbey is a hazy deep Garnet with a small, creamy, off-white head that leaves foamy sheets of lace. Served at cellar temp, this year's vintage.

Smell is fruity and one dimensional, like grape soda. Soft, to reserved for my taste.

Taste, actually, is pretty much the same, grape soda wise. But I really like grape soda...especially when it's packing 10.5%! This is a really sugary quad, loads of red wine and raisin, with a nice rumminess. Lacking complexity but enjoyable nevertheless.

Mouthfeel is light, highly digestible. The sugar coating in the mouth is thick.

Drinkability is high if you can handle the sugar and don't mind the thin fruitiness, but this is strong and rich by any standard, it's probably much better with a year or two on it, and good enough that I'll grab 1 or 2 more and try.

Photo of tpd975
3.67/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours dark brown with a small tan head. No retention or lace noted.

S: Sweet bready malt, yeast, brown sugar, and toffee.

T: Dark fruit, sweet candy malts, doughy yeast.

M: Medium in body, smooth fairly creamy.

D: Not too bad, but not a great beer.

Photo of Crosling
3.77/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Burgundy color, with a full and creamy foam that lasts. Lightly aromatic, with hints of burnt popcorn, brandy, dark fruit (plum) and the attributes of Belgian Yeast. Flavor is very rich and full, with extremely well hidden alcohol, fruit, chocolate and Belgian yeast. Not complex, nor polite, but quite tasty.

Photo of watchnerd
3.78/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle, poured into a big goblet wine glass, like you'd use for a bordeaux.

Cloudy nutty brown with medium carbonation and a chunky, lumpy head, tastes of plums, raisons, and potpourri, almost patchouli, moving to yeast and alcohol on the finish, that all dissolves into a nice warm rush to the cheeks that reduces the drinkability a bit, but sure tastes great on the way to hiccupville.

Photo of dblinkhorn
3.87/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml corked and caged bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance - Pours a slighly brownish honey-amber. It has an off-white head that is creamy throughout but with some soapiness on top. It dissipates at a moderate rate leaving spotty lacing here and there on the way down. It eventually settles at a patchy and thin layer of lacing on top.

Smell - Some rich nutty aromas with a spicy and warming alcohol up front. Herbal hops with slight floral notes. Dark figs and raisins dominate the fruitiness. There is also a strong brown sugar and caramel sweetnes. Some pepper and corriander spiciness with notes of nutmeg. A rich malt aroma ties it altogether in the background.

Taste - Rich pudding-like malt character with a strong nut character right up front. Also some metallic character is present in the malt as well. Clove and even strong corriander as the spice heightens in the middle. The alcohol also turns on full blast at 10.5% ABV and produces a warming and spicy/tingly feeling. Some herbal and floral for the hops, but more subdued than on the nose. The finish brings forth a nice medley of all of these flavors, with some more metallic character shining through. The aftertaste has lots of powdery yeast flavors and moderate earthiness with a dying malt richness.

Mouthfeel - Decent smoothness with a medium body. A sharp opening from the carbonation, but it mellows up a bit and has a nice edge throughout the taste. Adds a refreshing character, but is still just slightly overpowering for the style.

Drinkability - Strong flavors and a highly present alcohol. Has heavy body as well. One bottle of this would do me in.

A decent Belgian strong dark here. I do enjoy the nutty character it has, it reminds me of a Belgian version of a nut brown ale. Definitely worth a try or two. I would buy this beer again, but it won't be one of those beers that I always have on hand.

Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, but clear, chestnut body that appears ruby mahogany when held to the light. Lots of bubble activity going on in the goblet. Smallish offwhite head leaves profuse patchy lace. The aroma has lots of fusel dark fruits, spicy clove and nutmeg, and a note of black licorice. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, with medium carbonation and an alcohol bite. Taste has lots of dark fruits, with prunes being most apparent. Some Concord grapes are also noted. Anise, or black licorice, is prominent in a spicy array that also includes some clove and nutmeg. Drinkability is decent, and this is a well crafted Belgian Winter Ale. Similar to other Val Dieu offerings, but this one seemed to have more of a spicy anise component.

Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This reportedly is the Grand Cru. It pours a muddy brown with little head. It is about three years old and so understated carbonation. Overall pleasant, and a drying rich taste. Definite dark fruit, pepper, and cocoa, well balanced. Medium mouthfeel.

Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of jazztoloc
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Theshooster
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of DLS168
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of KYGunner
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The nose is full with molasses, sweet dried fruit like prune date and fig, with sour green Apple and bread. The flavor is stronger to the bread and malt with touches of anise, carriage, figs and crabapple. Slightly thick in feel it has a sticky sweetness in the mouth. I enjoyed this thoroughly and found it to be an excellent example of the style.

Photo of shroompod
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 06/06, Edit:
Just realized this is the best before date and re-evaluated the hit I gave it for mouthfeel.

Pours a dark hazy reddish brown , very little head, minimal amounts of lacing.

Smell is slightly yeast, some caramel,.

This beer has a sweet, grape-like taste to it. The hops balance out the sweetness almost perfectly.

This beer has a thick sweet mouthfeel. This particular bottle might be a little off because the carbonation is a little low.

Overall this beer has great drinkability for a high ABV beer. I kinda wished I'd saved this for the winter, but loved it nonetheless.

Photo of beerogre
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Once again my senses are treated to the extravagance that is the Belgian Strong Dark Ale. This is yet another fine example of the style.

My first few sips reminded me immediately of the Ommegang version, with the bready taste initially most noticeable but then it began to take me in a sweeter, more licoricey direction, though not to the extent of some, such as Gouden Carolus Carolus D'Or - Cuvée Van De Keizer.

I don't think the mouthfeel is quite there so much as in some of its peers, but what it may lose here it easily picks up in the drinkability category.

All in all a very decent effort, if not quite Top of the Class.

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of Beerzebub
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown color. Quarter inch of beige head mostly dissipates, but leaves sticky patches of Havarti-like lace.

Smells of sweet toffee and caramel, grapes, raisins, prunes, black figs, floral honey, solventy rummy alcohol.

Tastes fairly sweet, pleasant smooth cane sugar flavor. Fresh dark grapes, papaya, dried fruit, floral honey, caramelized sugar, milk chocolate, bread crust, coriander, cinnamon. Some aspect of fortified wine: port, sweet Marsala. Subtle roastiness and mildly bitter astringency helps balance the sweetness and alcohol. Alcohol is forthright, but manages not to overwhelm. It works, fairly cohesive.

Silky mouthfeel, with fine carbonation, but becomes thin. Some astringency, like grape skins. Very drinkable, considering.

Good interesting beer. For the style and the alcohol content, the dark sugars and dark malts seem restrained, white sugar must be a major ingredient. It makes for a relatively light and drinkable Belgian strong dark ale, despite the sweetness - the high gravity beer version of a good snickerdoodle?

Photo of jettjon
4.33/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

OK, it’s a cold winter night (well as cold as it gets here in Florida), and It’s time for a good Belgian Strong Dark ale. Presented in a caged-cork 750ml bottle, best before date on cork 10/07. I actually had to use a corkscrew on this one; that’s a rarity. Slight pop as the cork is extracted. Into the tulip, served at about 45 degrees.

Pours a very dark, practically opaque brown/black with a reddish tint when held to a light. Somewhat vigorous pour yields a solid fingers-worth of tan foam that fades slowly leaving solid sheets of lacing in its wake. Damn fine looking beer. Nose of sweet dark fruits, lightly bready malt and boozy alcohol. Cherry syrup. A bit of peppery spice in there as well. I’m betting that the nose really intensifies with warming. Tastes very well balanced with a combination of sweet, fruity malts matched against a subdued hop background with a firm alcohol presence. Damn fine dark ale flavor. Wine-like flavor complexity. Bitter, dry finish. Mouth is nicely balanced between a viscous, slick wetness and moderate, lively carbonation. Drinkability is excellent; I will be sipping this 10.5% ABV beverage all night.

Overall: An exemplary strong dark, and damn fine beer by any measure. Highly recommended.

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from the Tap at Lucky Baldwin’s during their August 20-28 Belgium Beer Festival.
Number #29 on the List.
$3 for a Taster in a small Chimay Goblet Glass.

Now this one was a real turn up for the books, I (rather conceitedly) mistakenly thought that this was the Val-Dieu Bière De Noël until moments before leaving when I overheard someone say it was 10,5%...it doesn’t say that on LB’s list and I knew the Bière De Noël was only around 7% so something was afoot and it wasn’t 12 inches…..time to give this one a whirl.

Appearance: Dark brown chestnut body with a lovely creamy vanilla head that sat around for the first 5 minutes but slowly dissolves to a thin yet uniform covering.

Nose: Hazelnuts, dark fruits, plum skins and spices. Alcohol is virulent in the backend and reminds you that this is a double-digit brew.

Taste: Lots of rich dark fruits and Xmas spices meld into a fantastic middle that blends yet more spice variants, chocolate, nuts, liquorices, malts, toast, chocolate covered digestive biscuits, figs and a little prune juice in the finish. The ending has a high alcohol kick that stays around.

Mouthfeel: Super smooth with a finely dissolved carbonation. Sits nicely in the mouth and caresses the tongue, it needs to, the high grade pure alcohol is here for sure but the Tastes and Mouthfeel really help to take the edge of the kick.

Drinkability: Well it may well be 10.5% but gracious me it doesn’t drink this high, the nose entices you, the tastes enthrall and the Mouthfeel retains long term interest. Very nice. Good job I was leaving after this one.

Overall: Damn tasty I have to say, it seems that this 10.5% Winter is also bottled as well…..yet the BA Avatar has the same/similar label as the Val-Dieu Bière De Noël (7%)…the confusion this creates is annoying….is this a “souped-up” version of the standard Xmas brew!?! Maybe? Whatever it is, was, or maybe, it is well worth trying.

Photo of Beauregard
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this at Mahaffey's recently during the wonderful winter beer months. I was extcited to see it on tap and find out how it compared to my favorite Belgians, so I quickly ordered and received a *very* generous serving in a goblet glass. Now, some beers loosely adhere to their style; in this case, the Val Dieu lives up to its "strong dark" title in every way. Beautiful, intimidating rich dark color with creamy head and noticable carbonation. Medium-body feels smooth in your mouth until the prominent alcohol taste hits you. At the same time, this beer is quite flavorful, with malt and fruit sweetness that balances things out nicely. Deep taste that is very drinkable despite its strength. I'd say it ranks as one of my favorite Belgians.

Photo of RoyalT
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This one is a dark, blackish-brown in color. I wasn’t able to get much of a head on the first pour but by the time I got to the bottom of the bottle it was working.

Smell – The solid bready malts define the nose of this ale. The traditional Belgian dark fruits are here in spades along with a light chocolate and a warning of alcohol.

Taste – Well, where to start? The yeast steps back a bit. The fruits are enormous and very complex. I won’t list every dark fruit that I can think of, but they all show up in this flavor profile. They are mixed with some serious alcohol, too. The dark malt actually comes in at the end, which is unusual.

Mouthfeel – This one is almost full-bodied with some nice, fluffy carbonation and a noticeable alcohol slap in the mouth.

Drinkability – This was a solid BSDA that had two faults. First, the head could have been better. Second, the alcohol was just a bit too sharp for the style. Less those two concerns this beer was damn near perfect.

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Val-Dieu Winter from Brasserie de l'Abbaye du Val-Dieu
89 out of 100 based on 32 ratings.