Ølfabrikken Kloster Jul | Ølfabrikken

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Ølfabrikken Kloster JulØlfabrikken Kloster Jul

Brewed by:

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by John_M on 11-12-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 35 | Ratings: 41
Photo of Sammy
4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From Premiere Gourmet. Amberish red cherry coloured body with lasting white foam. Aroma is root beer and cherry and yeast. Very full mouthfeel, this is a sipper. Taste is incredibly complex with licorice, cheery that builds. Other spices in the background.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark red-orange-bronze with brighter orange borders. Chestnut brown would have been more appealing given the style. The golden beige colored crown is wonderfully whipped creamy and filled most of the chalice on the initial pour. The foam is smooth and almost featureless, lasts forever and deposits an acceptable amount of sudsy lace.

A sticker on the side of the bottle reads 'Ale Brewed With Spices'. The website states that cherries and licorice root are used, but don't mention anything else. The first of those is subtle and the second is a major part of the aroma, along with a brown bread maltiness and touch of yeasty spice. The nose is both different and interesting. Warming brings everything into sharper focus and makes the next highest score an easy call.

Kloster Jul is fantastic beer, as is pretty much everything that Olfabrikken brews (with the exception of the 'merely okay' 100 Gram India Pale Ale). These guys excel in delivering an explosive amount of deep, rich flavor in their big beer, which will always score major points with me.

This Christmas seasonal is as much Belgian-style quadrupel as BSDA. The fruit and spices were inspired additions and add just the right amount of additional flavor and complexity. Especially if you're a fan of black licorice/anise, because the beer is chock full of it. There are no half measures with Olfabrikken. Hop bitterness easily keep malt sweetness in check.

The multiple and varied facets of this glittering jewel of Belgian-style ale include toasted brown bread, fig jam, a Sambuca-like licorice vibe, a modest amount of tangy black cherry and a pinch of ground clove. Perhaps a little cinnamon as well. Licorice becomes even more bold with warming, which is a very good thing. This is outstanding beer that I'm damn glad comes in 750 ml bottles.

My initial fears about mouthfeel were unfounded. It's a trifle light for the ABV, but it's as whipped creamy smooth as the foam that is instantly regenerated with each pour. Even though these guys aren't Belgian, they've nailed Belgian ale mouthfeel with authority.

Olfabrikken states that Kloster Jul was inspired by Trappist beer. I'm happy to report that they've succeeded in recreating the excellence that is found in some of the world's (read: Belgium's) best. This is a remarkably complex offering that I plan to sip and savor over the next several hours. Then it'll be time to figure out how to get more.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a fairly clear dark and amber brown. Thick crème head. Nose is sugary and sweet. Minor yeasty alcohol edge. Flavor is thick with malts and smoothly sweet. Almost seems to be a touch of vanilla. Cherries are there, sure. Mild though. Wood tones seem a bit more prominent. Overall though there are touches of fruit and a really mature and beautifully mature sweet tone. Feel is smooth on liquid and the carbonation is very appropriate. This is a very nice beer. Very nice. Try it if you have the chance.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.63/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5


Poured into a Goblet glass a deep amber/brown color, very nice carbonation, awesome huge three-finger creamy head, that settled down to a one-finger thick/creamy sticky lacing. The nose is malty, slight yeast, nice dark fruit notes, with some spicyness. The taste is very nice, malty, with a slight yeast note, sweet, nice fig/raisin/plum notes, slight spicy. Full body, with a slight dry finish. ABV hidden very well. Very drinkable, this is one freakn' awesome brew, highly recommend.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

2008 vintage. The beer pours a brown color with a cream-colored head. The aroma is alcohol, tobacco, brown sugar, dark fruit and a lot of licorice. The flavor is a similar, with a few additional notes. In addition to the tobacco, roasted malt, brown sugar and nutmeg, I also get some cayenne pepper and alcohol. A very complex flavor profile that is very enjoyable. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of John_M
4.38/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Debut release at Max's today. I gather they're having an Olfabrikken release party today.

The beer pours a dark brown color with red hilights. Head retention and lacing is sensational. The retention lasts and lasts, and there is sticky lacing all around. This beer looks very impressive.

On the nose, this is all I could want or hope for in a holiday beer. There is a boatload of milk chocolate and maraschino cherry, with a hint of licorise underneath. On the palate... damn this beer is delicious. The flavors replicate the nose, and the beer has a long, smooth, creamy finish. There is also a slight woodsy flavor to this beer, which adds to its complexity. This beer is not heavy at all, and you could really get into a lot of trouble drinking this. Maybe it would wear me out after a glass or two, but after the first couple of sips, all I could think was.... hmmmm... I wonder if I should have another one of these. Sigh. Probably not; the beer is pretty rich, but in any event, this beer is absolutely delicious. Yumm....

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Photo of corby112
3.86/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes:

This c&g bottle opened with a loud pop and poured a very dark ruby/chestnut color with mahogany edges when held to a light source. Two finger frothy tan head with decent retention, slowly fading into a lasting ring that leaves sporadic hunks of lacing behind.

Spicy peppery aroma with hints of clove, cinnamon and dark fruit. Hints of grape, dark berry, raisin and fog and well as a slightly medical cough syrup character.

Tight carbonation up front with a surprisingly full medium body, sweet and spicy flavor and slightly bitter dry finish. Lots of spicy notes, especially pepper, cinnamon and clove balanced by a nice malt backbone and sweet dark fruit presence. Hints of dark cherry, raisin, fig and plum. Well balanced and that medical flavor that I find so unpleasant in Xmas beers is kept to a minimum.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another relic found for a fraction of its former price (was $12.79, now $3.99).

A-After nearly taking out my dog's eye with the violent cork launch, the beer is poured into my tulip glass. Pours dark brown. When held up to the light the color is closer to burnt ruby. There are thousands of miniscule particles of floating debris in the beer too. Small head faded and leaves spotty lacing.

S-Dark fruits and toasted brown sugar. Dried plum. Alcohol rears its head too. A bit woody as well. Lighter nose. A slight amount of roastiness.

T-Now I can really taste the cherries. Chocolate covered cherry. Slight amount of wood. Booze is there. Not sour, but definitely cherry-loaded. Aftertaste is pleasant. Warms the cheeks. Thankfully this is one of the chillier summer nights. Almost like cherry cough syrup. Displays an almost medicinal flavor.

M-Heavy bodied. Strong carbonation. Slightly dry. Cherry flavor morphs on the palate.

O/D-This one has held up well over time. Seems like the shelf stay has mellowed out the booze a bit. For less than 1/3 its original price, I would say that this is a bargain.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a lovely tan, two finger head that very slowly recedes to a thick, doughy film. Sticky lacing too. Murky tobacco and cherry wood brown hue so dark, its almost impossible to see any bubbles. Awesome looking beer makes it hard to not take a sip, or finish a bottle of his beer.

Leathery toasted cherries. Then some sugared bananas with just a touch licorice. The yeast an malt even gives a little hint of bubblegum that mixes well with some herbal hops.

Pillowy soft fruits, thanks to the lovely carbonation,starts the taste and palate off first. The fruit develops into just a softly tart cherry. Then some bready fruit cake with just a little banana liquer. A little plummy too. The hops add even more herbal flavors to tghis beer.

Make sure you let this beer warm up a little. When its colder, it has a metallic taste to it.

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Photo of drpimento
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Yummmm. Very nice beer. Poured with a fine foamy frothy light tan head that lasts & good lace. Aroma is malty, yeasty, a hint of sour cherry. Flavor's about the same but set off very well with the body and carbonation which are excellent. Don't pick up much of the licorice. Finish is a very good bittersweet with a little alcohol.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber to brown-ish color, with a big off white to light tan head. In the aroma, licorice, anise, and a small hint of cherry. In the taste, licorice, anise, and a small tart cherry in the end. A smooth and medium to big bodied mouthfeel, and a semi dry licorice aftertaste. Big flavor, dry spices, and hints of tart cherries, quite nice.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.64/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes in December 09

Poured a murky brown/hazelnut with a light tan head that left decent lace. From the getgo, I am hit by a huge waft of licorice and a tiny twang of cherries. A caramel and toffee body then carries me over a field of anise, and finally to a vat of rum soaked raisins. The taste is equally satisfying. This is a rare form of licorice... it's licorice I actually enjoy! Quite amazing, though the body could be boosted slightly. Booze is apparent throughout.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.88/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle. Pours a murky brown with a huge pillowy off white head that retains well and laces the glass some.

The aroma is molasses, dark fruits (fig) and some fruitcake spices with some alcohol and hops in the background.

The flavor is sweet sugary malts with some fruit (cherries?). In the finish it has a bit of alcohol and some bittering hops to balance. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a good carbonation level.

Overall, a nice brew. It's an interesting blend that comes out well balanced. The alcohol is slightly too much up front for my tastes.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a corked and caged 750ml bottle into two red wine glasses. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

A: Pours a muddy, dark, caramel-y brown color. Capping this is a creamy, light-khaki colored head that slowly recedes into a swirly skim and thick ring. Droopy ropes of lace left behind.

S: Subtle aromas of caramel, spices, cherry, chocolate, and very subtle aromas of anise and yeast.

T: Flavors of toasted malt, caramel, chocolate, spicy yeast, candi sugar, slightly tart cherry, toasted nuts, and raisin. Heather says that the cherry flavor seems more like dark fruit; raisins and plums, and that the cherry is more apparent in the nose than the taste.

M: Big and sweet with a great spicy dryness that does a nice balancing job. Slightly tart in the middle with a nice and dry hop finish.

D: Alcohol is so well hidden yet by the end of the bottle, our cheeks were a little warm. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of Damian
3.72/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank from a 1 pt 9.4 fl oz bottle purchased at Liquor World, Cambridge, MA
Served in a chalice

The beer poured a murky, muddy, mahogany color with crimson highlights. There was no real head but merely a thin, light tan cap that faded to a wispy film.

The aroma was rather intriguing. Rich, smooth and fruity with a discernible sweet/sour quality. Somewhat caramel-like. Spicy and a touch herbal. Dark fruits (including cherries) were noticeable. As much as I enjoyed the complexity and subtle nuances of the aroma, I wish it was more intense.

Like the aroma, the flavor was an interesting mix of sweet and sour. Fruity and boozy right away with a noticeable Belgian yeast quality. Dark Belgian candi sugar was discernible. Some brown sugar as well. Spicy in the center. Woody and dry. Metallic notes were apparent in the slightly hoppy, sour and boozy finish. As the beer warmed, licorice notes came out in both the flavor and the aroma.

The mouthfeel was the saving grace of this beer. The liquid was medium bodied and creamy with a fine, crisp and lively carbonation. Light and airy yet supple, the beer enveloped my tongue like a cloud.

Drinkability was okay. I would have liked the alcohol presence to be less noticeable.

I enjoyed this beer but thought it fell short in both intensity and complexity. As with most of the Olfabrikken beers, this one was not cheap (I paid $16 for my bottle). It is unlikely that I will be visiting it again.

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Photo of BretSikkink
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber brown moving towards mahogany as the yeast settles. The head is lightly tanned, quite tall, and quite sticky. It really is a beautiful looking beer, and doesn't lose any grace as it warms.

Fruity, spicy nose that features the cherry juice along with a nod towards anise that grows stronger with warmth. Dark fruit is also a major player so far, with fig and date dusted with brown sugar as the prime movers.

Flavors are similar, with the cherries on spotlight as the licorice plays backup. Pretty spicy, but also warming and full of flavor. Well balanced. The malted barley shows evidence of chocolate (roast) character as well as caramel (sweet) notes. The hops are last on the ingredient list, and show up only as a mildly herbal inclusion.

The mouthfeel definitely shows the effects of the wheat malt, as the last sip is as light and sippable as the first. There is a drying component that leaves the drinkability in tact even as the flavors grow more pronounced with the warming temperature.

I am very impressed with this "Ale brewed with spices". Olfabrikken has hit another nail on the head; this brew could be mistaken for a fine Belgian ale - if not a Trappist - and the kicker is that it grows more drinkable as it approaches room temperature. To me, that is the litmus test for pretenders to the throne, and Kloster Jul (this is how it is spelled on my bottle) is a superb effort.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
4.34/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer has been in my cellar for a few years.

A: great head retention, deep copper color, clear
S: deep malt, roasted, licorice
T: full-bodied, great malt, licorice provides a bit of edge to malt, EtOH lurking
M: warm and rounded, very drinkable for EtOH
O: very nice beer, well-made

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.71/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Poured with a massive explosion of 4 fingers of foam. Nice deep brown color with some ruby highlights.

S: Nice big Belgian yeast smell right up front. Gets more complex as it warms. Some spices with a big blast of malt with it. Some hints of funk especially at the end of the glass.

T: Wonderfully complex. Spices then into a nice wallop of dark fruit. Finishes with a root like taste. Bottle says it is licorice root. Ok that makes sense. The sour cherry taste goes throughout and gets more pronounced as it wamrs.

M: If I had to pick on something it would be that it is a tad over carbonated. Very creamy though.

D: Wow. Totally surprised by this one. One of the best holiday beers I have ever had. Totally different and totally complex. A real gem.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My Hoegaarden snifter contains a dark, rutty, brown ale with red highlights and a gargantuan, creamy, tan head that becomes rocky while it slowly deposits a dense lacing.

Sweet malt and a light, pine resin give way to sour apple Jolly Rancher above alcohol fumes. Strong spices followed by cherry and lots of layers and complexity make this comparable to a sweet red wine.

Clearly off balance, however, Kloster Jule closely follows the nose with some cherry cough drops thrown in. The tartness is a bit puckering with a touch of bitterness in a sharp, lingering finish. This one warms well and is highly acidic.

An interesting combination of lively carbonation and a full-bodied syrupy ale. This one has a touch of astringency and more than a little warming alcohol.

Given the alcohol content, and the tremendous amount of character, this dark ale is surprisingly easy to drink. Surprisingly easy to have two in a row. One before dinner and one after, perhaps with a cigar and a book.

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Photo of Oxymoron
3.88/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Did you just say Yule with a J? Pours a darker chestnut brown color with some lighter brownish hues throughout. Mostly clear with a thick and bubbly off white head. Ok retention and limited lacing throughout.

The nose is a bit sweet with noticeable yeast notes. To start there is a light malt note with some hints of melanodian, but this is quickly over ridden by a brown sugary aroma that blends odd with they yeast. They yeast comes out with a slight Belgian character with a hint of funk. Noticeable fusel notes with a light fruity tart cherry aroma.

The taste is better than the nose. The malt is a bit more distinct with a light kettle caramel flavor. Still a sweetness and a sugar taste/feel in to the end, which is a bit much. A bit of fruity notes with a nice ester backing. Some cherry, figs and dates. A hint of vanilla that comes out as it warms. A bit of astringency from a spicy characteristic, pepper mostly but some licorice and a light herbal thing. Noticeable alcohol burn but not over whelming.

The body is moderate but leaves a dry finish. Carbonation is a bit high with some carbonic bite. Overall there are some nice characteristics but would like the sugar to back off and a bit more yeast notes to shine.

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Photo of tmoneyba
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Champane Wine, Warren, MI.

Pours a dark hazy brown color with an average to large frothy brown head that mostly lasted with good lacing. Moderate to heavy roasted nut malt and alcohol aroma. Medium to full body with a smooth texture and flat carbonation. Medium to heavy bittersweet flavor with a medium to heavy bittersweet finish of moderate to long duration.

This is a standout beer.

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Photo of TheSarge
4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured this bad boy into an old PBR chalice. With a semi quick pour, this brew makes a two finger thick light tan head, that sticks around well, the body is bronze on the outside, then turns to a tawny dull brown that is nearly opaque when held up to natural light.

The aroma is of cola, booze, chocolate, and maybe vanilla with some cherry mixed together.

In the taste I get a whirlwind of flavors that bounce from dark dried fruits, to tobacco, to chocolate, some cherry and vanilla again, and has a warm boozy coziness in the end.

For a boozy beer this feels thin from beginning to middle, but then the warmth kicks in to let me know this brew is serious. It is lightly carbonated too, which makes me surprised that this isn't too syrupy.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.53/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Merry Christmas!! This one is a perfect Christmas Ale. Pours a hazy dark caramel amber with reddish hues and a huge billowing three finger light tan head that's stiff and dense. It fades slowly, decomposing in 3D leaving sheets of Belgian lacing behind. The smell is wonderful and at first spicy, then sweet. Coriander nutmeg and cinnamon and fruity cherry with an underlying caramel sweetness. The mouth feel is medium-full bodied and smooth with the effervescence of tiny bubbles and very creamy. The mouth and nose complimenting the complexity of the fruity sweetness and caramel nicely; it finishes pretty quickly but the spices lunge the flavors past a drier finish. The 9.5% ABV isn't subtle but it's not distracting either. I dragged this one back from my recent trip to Chicago and am really glad that I did. Highly recommended, I will definitely snag more if this if I see it again.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.23/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle from Wilbur's in Ft. Collins, set aside in their temporary "Christmas Beer" section. Around $11.

A: Very dark brown in color with an enormous light tan head, a good 2 inches worth or creamy, dense bubbles, lots of clumps of sticky lacing, for the most part opaque, tons of red accents. Very nice looking beer.

S: Spicy yeasts, banana, sour cherries, there's a definite licorice note and a few other spices, smells somewhat piney or spruce even. Has a lot of doughy, bready notes that mixed with the pine/spices/cherry really make this smell like the holidays. Decent smelling beer.

T: Very interesting notes of sour cherries are there, as well as a substantial hop profile and lots of spices, hop profile is slightly skunky but pairs nicely and balances out the sweet malt notes. Very nice flavors here, nothing was skimped on here. Spices add another layer of complexity, but don't overwhelm the beer. Pretty substantial booze note, but it works. Nicely done.

M: A fair amount more body than I had expected, medium carbonation, warm alcohol, fairly dry. Nice.

D: Easy to drink and great for a cold January night. It is not hard at all to split this one with someone else. Excellent beer, and I may have to snag another one to let it cellar for a while. Highly recommended.

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown with big ruby highlights, very red and glows when held to the light. A nice off white/light tan head grows quickly and retains quite well, turning from fizzy to a nice ice cream lump leaving good lace.

Nose is kind of weak. There is some dark fruit, a fair amount of spices and some honey like sweetness. Almost a sharp borderline citrus smell.

Taste is much more complex than the smell iindicates. Starts off on a fizzy slim kick, but quickly gets much richer. Alot of different dark fruit character going on in here. Some sweet yet astringent fruitiness, plums, dates. The caramel character is also pretty strong. There is quite a bit of spice going on in here as well. very nice. A certain licorice candy action in here as well. I dont know if they put any anise in this, but it could use a little lick of it. The finish is alot more dry than one would guess for the style, or for the pre finish taste. A good dry fruit flavor lingers on the aftertaste along with sugar and some grassy, fruit rhindish flavors.

Mouthfeel is a bit odd. Starts off fizzy and a touch thin, but as the richness flexes its muscle during the middle of the flavor, it is almost like it thickens up. Carbonation could be toned down just a bit. The dryness at the end is odd, but I kind of like it.

Drinkability is pretty good. The abv is hidden extremely well, but the complexity and richness in this one calls for a slow sipping session.

Overall a very interesting beer. Im glad I picked up a couple of these to put some age on. The complexity is very impressive. There are bretter BSDAs out there to be sure, but this one is very unique and very enjoyable as well. Defenitely an experience. Enjoy this one slowly. Good beer.

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Ølfabrikken Kloster Jul from Ølfabrikken
4.17 out of 5 based on 41 ratings.
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