Equinox / Zwarte Piet
Brasserie de la Senne

Equinox / Zwarte PietEquinox / Zwarte Piet
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Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
Ranked #260
Ranked #26,678
3.81 | pDev: 12.07%
Brasserie de la Senne
Very Good
Equinox / Zwarte PietEquinox / Zwarte Piet
Reviews: 59 | Ratings: 110 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of flagmantho
flagmantho from Washington

3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 330mL bottle into a tulip. This is the "Zwarte Piet" version.

Appearance: deep rich dark brown hue with lots of haze and a thick finger of frothy tan foam. Quite attractive in my opinion.

Smell: rather sweet but with a nice dose of dark fruits and dusty tobacco leaves. Just what I like in the style.

Taste: on the sweet side and a little bit muted, but nonetheless the flavor complexity is there. This really works for me as a somewhat less heavy example of the style.

Mouthfeel: lighter-bodied than average, but with a big carbonation. Creaminess is big but ephemeral.

Overall: I like this beer a lot, although turning up the volume just a little bit would be brilliant.

Sep 11, 2015
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

3.71/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(bottle from 2013 I presume - carefully poured into a Chouffe tulip)

L: super-dark ruby red liquid... good finger+ high, rose-tinted tan foam - settles in a smooth crest above the mouth of the glass and calmly recedes into the beer, leaving a thick blanket of lace in its wake

S: lovely dark milk chocolate with dark candi sugar and a hint of raspberry hard candy... faint whiff of coffee liqueur and earthy-spicy yeast on the back end... touch solventy as it warms

T: polished, muscular-but-delicate roasted grain bitterness and dark caramel... bit of a dry, yeasty-spicy bite, which points to this bottle having begun to succumb to age or abuse... aftertaste is bittersweet coffee with some dark sugar and vinous-like esters, perhaps a hint of black pepper or ash

F: plenty of unfermentables to keep the body from zapping out totally dry... pleasant little rubbery roll riding a coat of sparkly suds... still has a sense of balance at this point, but not for much longer

O: once again, you take a chance trying a Belgian you haven't had before... one out of every four seem to have this 'quirk' about them... the guys at the counter laughed when I asked them what I should go with between this and the Zinnebir - I knew immediately they must have both been from last year, as these De la Senne bottles haven't been flying off the shelves around here since PBW '13... it's a shame, because their beers are pretty good - wish more people knew... maybe these sales peeps oughta do a better job pimping them out, huh?

Dec 15, 2014
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byronic from Canada (ON)

3.13/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown with a nice thick head, looks very nice after the pour. Can't distinguish much from the nose other than some malts and Belgian yeast. Tastes rather muted with some hints of bitterness and malts. The alcohol is very present and overpowering. Perhaps some of the flavours have disappeared with age but I wouldn't return to have this brew again.

Jul 07, 2014
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beergoot from Colorado

3.73/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The bottle label is just "Zwarte Piet" (Black Peter - a Low Countries folklore character) and has a different graphic on it (a black character wearing a white safari get-up). Other than describing itself as a dark ale, the ABV is listed as 8.2%.

Zwarte Piet pours a turbid brown color and creates a lasting, thick, creamy, off-white head. Roasted grain and slight chocolate aroma with a faint cherry note; yeasty and doughy. Taste is much like the aroma, perhaps a bit more bitter chocolate and a twinge of alcohol heat. Surprisingly light and thin body yet very soft and smooth.

A rather interesting dark ale that manages to satisfy despite having some weak minor points such as mouthfeel (it just seems too weak and watery overall). Dark grain, chocolate and even a pinch of coffee-like bitterness and bite makes this one worth trying.

Jun 23, 2014
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CookstLiquor from Canada (BC)

3.67/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 500ml bottle. Racist label aside, this pours a rich dark brown. Nose offers up complex floral, fruity notes with roasty notes of chocolate. Taste is boozy and a bit sweet, with notes of dark dried fruits and a strong bitter finish. Very smooth and sippable.

Jan 06, 2014
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LiquidAmber from Washington

4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Reuben's Brew snifter. Pours a very dark, nearly opaque brown with a nice to finger light brown head that dissipates slowly, leaving heavy lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, nuts, cocoa, faint Belgian yeast and spicing. Flavor is initially muted toasted malt, cocoa with dark, tart fruit developing later and finishing with charred malt, cocoa and some grassy hop bitterness. Medium bodied with peppery sharp carbonation. An unusual take on a brown ale, flavors are more muted and not as rich as a porter, but there is a lighter, Belgian fruit component that makes this interesting and different. The char in the finish is unexpected and perhaps a bit strong for flavor balance, but overall a quite interesting hybrid of porter and Belgian dark. Worth a try.

Dec 28, 2013
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ManforallSaisons from Belgium

3.26/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It being Sinterklaas/St. Nicolas, it was clearly time to pull this out of the cellar, I think a couple months after buying. While I should strive not to prejudge, it was what I'd expected, in fact hoped for from this house: not a standard Belgian Christmas ale but a modern take on a peacefully non-imperial stout -- more roast and no/less candy sugar, clean, solid rather than decadent. Goodness knows for sure about a best-by date but looks like 2014 and no month are ticked on the label. Luscious-looking brown-black body with a sustained layer of cream. Little smell, some esters, a touch of coffee, but little is the operative word. Seriously roasted coffee again, in the flavor, plus toffee, some apricot and citrus, along with herbal and bitter but slightly coppery hops. Nice chewy attack and it cleans out well.

Dec 07, 2013
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notchucknorris from California

3.57/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Oh man, this label...

A: Pours a deep chestnut color, turning black in the glass, with a nice two finger sand colored head. Really good retention and some nice lace.

S: Cocoa powder, roasted malt, light gingerbread and cinnamon and just a hint of spicy rye. Pretty interesting. None of the fruit in here that I expect in a BSDA.

T: Opens a touch roasty with a light brown sugar sweetness to it. Bread crust, faint chalky yeast in the background, rye and a slight touch of earthy hops near the finish. Interesting, but I don't know if I'd go back to this.

Nov 20, 2013
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ritzkiss from Canada (ON)

3.4/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Zwarte Piet label is racist as hell, but the beer isn't bad. Not sure what's behind the name change but I'm sure it has something to do with controversy, which the label seems to see no reason to shy away from - Black face explorer matching the Black animal it gazes at...

Mix of roast and cocoa with a strong cranberry presence, a light tartness and some hop drying in the finish. Mix of stout and Belgian Dark.

Aug 30, 2013
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rudzud from Massachusetts

3.76/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Recently stumbled across my notes from The Festival 2012. Lets do this!

A - Poured a nice brown hue with a one finger light brown head that fades to leave a thin blanket.

S - Aromas of sweet candi malts, dark fruits (raisins), and faint chocolate.

T - Taste is similar to the nose, just a bit heavy handed on the chocolate and raisins here. Would like to see a bit more balance between the two and the almost sticky sweet malts.

M - Mouthfeel is a touch low on the carbonation resulting in this feeling heavy and almost syrupy.

O - Overall, an okay beer from De La Senne, needs more carbonation and balance.

Jun 14, 2013
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Slatetank from Pennsylvania

3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this at Teresa's enjoyed in a tulip on tap.

The color is black with no light escaping with light tan/beige cap and small bead. The smellis nice with both spice from the yeast and light cocoa element from the malt with nutty and biscuit tinges. The feel is good with creamy body moderately carbonated and semi-dry in the finish with very low alcohol influenced.

I like the way the dark malt flavors come through and there is almost a vanilla tinge with subtle cocoa and pepper with some toasted grain flavor and gentle fruit from the yeast. Overall a pretty tasty and drinkable ale I was surprised to note the alcohol is 8% it is very drinkable for the strength.

Jun 10, 2013
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UCLABrewN84 from California

3.66/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pour at the 2013 Firestone Walker Invitational held at the Paso Robles Event Center in Paso Robles, CA.

This bottle had the Zwarte Piet label.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and Belgian yeast aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that smells slightly better than it tastes in my opinion.

Jun 03, 2013
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.15/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

330 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Brown body. Hinting at black. Big head. Lots of wisps. Nice lacing.

Smell - Very acidic. Some deep roasted malts. Lemony acidity. Clean tartness.

Taste - The roasted malts take a back seat to an immediate sourness. Brett flavors. Lemony tartness. Grainy. Some chocolate comes back in the end. Dry.

Mouthfeel - Dry finish. Medium light body. Not a ton of tartness but what it has is good.

Overall - Good blend of acids and chocolate. Doesn't do much for me, but it's a decent beer.

May 21, 2013
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magictacosinus from California

4.22/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured on tap at Trappist Provisions into a 6oz wine glass. Really loved the sample I got of this brewery's Zinnebir, so I was looking forward to trying this.

Huh, when actually searching for "Zwarte Piet," I have uncovered some pretty controversial ethnocentric remnants of the Dutch Empire... But I'm going to skip that for now, despite the fact that the beer's darkened tanned reddish color makes me feel a bit irked out after making such a search about the beer's name. Great head on this one, especially in terms of lacing. There's fluffy, waxy aspects of carbonation that coat the glass's edges in a grand and playful manner. Not too much carbonation to be seen, though, although the murky, cloudy appearance does make that the strongest reasoning. Looks as great as the best BSDAs I've ever had - Unibroue's Maudite immediately comes to mind.

The aroma is not as ridiculous as expected, but once it sits for a bit, a lot of flavors start to open up, among them roasted cracked graininess, lightly tinged cocoa, dried fruits such as figs, and brown sugared sweetness. The alcohol never fully permeates the aromas, and I myself am surprised with how much grain seeps through at first. The yeastiness definitely comes through, and aromas resembling dark fruit (plums, raisins) rise to the other side. This would have probably been more appropriate to have in a large tulip glass or over sized wine glass, but it nevertheless still smells crisp and straight to the point in terms of style.

The flavor is, of course, an entirely different story. The beginning is slightly bitter and crisp with lightly flavored roasted notes, but the finish ends in strong grainy astringency combined with toasted cocoa beans and slight fruitiness. This appears underwhelming at first, but luckily as this warms up the aftertaste becomes more and more everlasting, as well as the fruits, which range from cranberries and figs at first to blood oranges coated with caramelized brown sugar. The finish is quite dry and astringent, and yet, the initial sweetness produced by the malts makes up for the finishing dryness. Definitely more grainy that I'd prefer, but still really really balanced in terms of appropriating the subtle fruit and sourish flavors at the end. I really I wish I paired this with some nice creamy, aged cheese due to the high astringency.

Great stuff, almost like an extra roasted saison in some ways. It's definitely a refreshing take on the ever plentiful BSDA style coming out of Belgium, and it's everlasting aftertaste is definitely the highlight here, to the point that this would make a pleasing digestif or paired well with ribs or a hearty stew. I really enjoyed drinking this overall and will try to seek out more beers from Brasserie de la Senne when I can.

Mar 04, 2013
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drabmuh from Maryland

3.8/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer served on draft at Churchkey, served in a snifter. Beer is dark brwon with a no head.

The aroma is a saison...tea like bitterness in the nose, lots of flowers and yeast.

Tastes like a siason, other malts are undetectable. It is a yeast forward beer with some mild bitterness but mostly just yeast esters. Overall it is a nice beer and I'd have it again, forward sweetness and malts make this a good beer.

Aug 03, 2012
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Smakawhat from Maryland

4.05/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2012 poured on tap at Churchkey DC into a snifter glass. Described as a Belgian Imperial Stout.

A real nice red body with hints of dark chestnut brown, giving to a faint tan head. Manages to keep a collar.

Interesting nose on this beer. Light grass, and a fruity nuttiness similar to an English Dark Mild but a bit bolder.

Taste brings a real nice and controlled roasty character of char and pan gravy but with a Belgian like sweetness as well. Creamy charring mix with no perceived heat either. Body is very light in feel but gives lots of flavor

Overall it really does remind me of a dark mild with a fascinating character. Real interesting beer.

Aug 01, 2012
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spinrsx from Canada (ON)

3.7/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle from the Bevmo La Quinta CA for 5$

Appearance - Brown colour with an average size fizzy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly good lacing. The head lasted for only a few minutes.

Smell - Malts, dark fruits, chocolate, smoke

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste raisins/dates, malts, and some chocolate. There is also some herbal notes and a smokiness. It ends with a chocolatey malt aftertaste with a light bitterness.

Overall - Can't say I've ever had a beer that tasted quite like this one. It had some interesting flavours that really worked well together. Worth trying.

Jul 04, 2012
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impending from California

3.82/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


750ml into a tulip. Pours an opaque mahogany with a coffee colored midlin size head, minor lacing.

Rich deep all low note aroma. Bittersweet chocolate as of a stout with added spices. The yeast keeps it clearly in begian territory.

Taste too veers more towards a belgian stout than a strong dark but adds a vinous quality and subtle dark fruits. Not particularly complex but nice within a narrow range. Aftertaste is of little bitter and fades rather rapidly. Medium bodied creamy smooth mouthfeel.

Jun 16, 2012
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feloniousmonk from Minnesota

4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wonderful dark appearance, utterly black, with a large creamy, long-lasting head. Just gorgeous. This head does not diminish, and the tan froth last slong and represents.

Aroma: Belgian yeast and malt, first and foremost, spicy, malty, creamy, mmmm. oats and porridge meets clove and cinnamon, maybe. Clean, fresh, and beautiful.

taste: Some cola on the palate first, some dark malty flavors, some nut brownish association, not quite enough roast and toast, but still a very rich, full bodies malty Belgian-style flavor.
There's a never-ceasing attack of the yummy, over-all, and I can't imagine who wouldn't like this one, what so ever. Yum, funky, fresh, fruity, and deeply delicious. Chocolate is here, aplenty,too, with tons of rich maltiness overall.

Jun 06, 2012
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popery from California

4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice beer. Pours dark brown with a big beige head. Lots of fine bubbles. The aroma has earth, minerals, mushrooms, raisins, prunes, caramel, light chocolate, a touch of smoke and gentle roast. It's a very pleasant blend of gentle dark malt flavors and Belgian yeast notes. The taste is fairly sweet but not over the top or cloying. There's a healthy spiciness and some tasty fruitiness. Caramel comes through nicely, as well. Mouthfeel is smooth. Gentle carbonation. It's a very good dark Belgian. Refreshing with some tasty dark malt and Belgian complexity.

Feb 25, 2012
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RickS95 from Indiana

3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark, burnt chocolate brown. As dark as I've seen for the style. Head is offwhite and fleeting.

A lot of stuff to choose from. At different times I picked up chocolate, coffee, pine, citrus, licorice, and vanilla.

It tastes more like a stout. The chocolate is most noticeable, but it's nothing resembling dominant. It actually tastes like watered-down coffee with some cocoa in it, but it works.

While the taste worked, the mouthfeel was nothing worth writing home about. Bordering on light bodied, almost a Guinness like feel, with some bittering hops in the finish.

This beer needed something. Not so much flavor, just more character in the body. It was too loose for my liking.

Jan 28, 2012
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zeff80 from Missouri

3.85/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of a 5 pack of Belgian Christmas beers from Shelton Bros.

A - Poured out a clear, dark brown color with a one-finger, tan head of foam. It left some sudsy trails on the glass.

S - It smelled of plum and raisin with a slight smokiness.

T - A kiss of smoke with plum, raisin and currants. A rich malty backbone adds some sweetness.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a pretty nice beer. Not sure where the smokiness came from it it was interesting.

Jan 22, 2012
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Thorpe429 from Illinois

3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle picked up at State Line in Elkton, MD. Served in a De La Senne tulip.

Pours a dark brown with purple-ish tints to it. Good head and lacing. The nose carries plenty of dark fruit plus some semi-sweet malt. Good yeast character. Flavor is similar. Nice yeast, but nothing really taking it over the top. Medium body with a touch of alcohol. Solid.

Dec 17, 2011
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LAMAGS from New York

4.29/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber with a small creamy head, modest retention and lacing. The nose is warm and inviting yeast spices caramel vanilla chocolate and fruit, very well balanced and subtle. The flavor doesn’t disappoint all the flavors in the aroma are present with the addition of figs berries and wood, really excellent. Medium body and carbonation round out a really nice beer.

Sep 18, 2011
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Rifugium from North Dakota

4.05/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Monk's, Philly, PA

Smooth, silky, spicy, and sexy.

Poured a dark hazy brown with a finger of tan head and moderate carbonation. Everything dark in the aroma: malts, fruits, chocolate. Roasty malts in the taste, with velvety smooth dark chocolate, raisins, dried black cherries, and pumpernickel. A good sense of alcohol. Medium bodied, and a very pleasant drink.

May 13, 2011
Equinox / Zwarte Piet from Brasserie de la Senne
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 110 ratings