Brigand | Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

very good
120 Reviews

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-12-2002

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Reviews: 120 | Ratings: 211
Photo of Sammy
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Decent yeasty taste up front, followed by medium mouthfeel, so-so taste and finishing hoppy and sourish. An average Belgian with golden colour and a little head that lasts and lace, and some yeasty aroma. At Smokeless Joe's. Ok for not having a Belgian in several weeks.Fizzier carbonation.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 070327. Hmm, I will take that as 3/27/07 which makes this beer over 4 years old. Let's see how well it has held up.

Pours a semi-clear light yellow color with a 2 inch white head that fades to a small cap. Random pieces of lace slide back down into the remaining beer on the drink down with only a little bit of lacing sticking around. Smells of sweet malt, apple skins, grape juice, some yeast, and slight alcohol. Taste is of grape juice, apple rinds, sweet malt, and some spices/yeast. A very nice balance of fruitiness and malt. A subtle alcohol presence is felt after each sip. Good level of carbonation makes for a crisp and clean mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good BSPA with some very nice fruity elements. I think that this one has held up very well and is drinking very nice.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.72/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at the Lucky Baldwins 10th Annual Belgian fest on 2/15/09.

Pours a hazy dark yellow. 3/4" head, decent lacing, and not much retention to speak of.

Very simple uninspiring aroma but nice none the less. Sugar and malt. A touch of unidentified spice. Thats about it.

Flavor is equally simple but again enjoyable. Sugary, pale malt, medium bitterness, and not a lot of belgian yeast flavor. Fairly neutral.

Body is thin, very bubbly, and enjoyable. More of a dessert beer.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.57/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Strong Pale Ale, kiddin'? Brigand is one powerful beer.

It begins with a look that is darker golden than Duvel, but doesn't hold the head as well as I expect. Amply carbonated with little lacing and some legging on the glass. A mild haze gives the appearance of bottle conditioning. An ok look.

Mouthwatering aromas of a plethera of fruits- peaches and pears becomming dominant. Belgian-y twangs of berries, acidicy, and spiciness combats the sweet, sweet malt sugars.

Flavors are more intensley sweet than even the olfactories suggests. Still peaches and pears pair with the nectar-soaked malts to make this beer a winner with the malt fans out there. Apples, appricots, papayas, mangos, and pineapple round out the full ester profile. Still, white pepper, corriander, curraco, and alochols give fuel to the phenolic character. These take a back seat to the sweetness.

Sweetness caries over to the body very directly. Some may say cloying with the oily sweetness. But with the ommitance of any hop meaning, the beer doesn't balance out all that well. The complex fruits and phenols can't round out the unresolved malt and candi sugar addition.

A lot of beers from this brewery end up quite sweet. Most though, do balance with well attenuation and balance with esters, phenols, and added spices. Brigand doesn't settle so well. Maybe their Brigand IPA does better?

Thanks Marikka's.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.22/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served on draught into 33cl stemware in Rome, Italy. Reviewed from notes.

A: Two finger head of nice soft cream, decent thickness, and average retention. Colour is a clear yellow.

Sm: Souring hops, cream, and light non-citrus esters. Aroma is moderate in strength.

T: Slight souring hops, refreshing light cream, and restrained barley. Bold but simple. Built well and nicely balanced.

Mf: Smooth and wet, but not overly so. Complements the flavours of the body.

Dr: A bit pricey in Italy, but pleasant and inspired. Very drinkable, with a nicely subtle smoothness.

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Photo of emerge077
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stubby 11.2 oz. bottle, date stamped 07 03 27
New archer photo label, with transparent decal backing.

Pours neatly into a Caracole tulip, bright orange, with a slight haze to it. Lots of tiny streamers of champagne bubbles. Patchy, sudsy lacing. Not much visible bottle sediment (there was in the aged bottle I reviewed last year). The foam crackles audibly and ends up sticking around the whole time.

Earthy and herbal aroma, maybe a floral hint, with a touch of sweetness in there. A deeper inhale picks up on mild phenols, hinting at the higher abv. Luckily it's hidden in the taste.

Lightly fruity, peppery and dry in the aftertaste, with a mild hop bitterness. Slight phenolic upturn at the end, but not overpowering. Stronger than Duvel, but attempting a similar character. Medium bodied with considerable dryness.
Easy to finish a small bottle, it's pretty potent even in this quantity.

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Photo of zeff80
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a very cloudy, orange color with an extremely foamy, white, two-finger head. It left some minor soapy residue on the glass.

S - It smelled of yeast, dried fruit and a little funkiness. There were some light caramel notes.

T - It tasted fruity (pear and apple) with a spicy hop quality. Caramel malt provided a bit of sweetness.

M -It was crisp and quite sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good Belgian ale. It had some saison-like qualities.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.67/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap 11/05/08 at Track 84, in Warwick, RI, served in a flute glass.

A: The beer is a bright gold color, with a thin white head that fades very quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of light malts, Belgian yeast, bananas, citrus and some hops.

T: The taste starts out a little tart with flavors of citrus and Belgian yeast. Then flavors of bananas, mild hops and a thin malt character balance things out. The after-taste is tart and sweet.

M: Smooth and very crisp, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, it wouldn't be the first Belgian beer that I'd pick but it's worth drinking for a while.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.13/5  rDev -43.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

11.2 ounce bottle - $3.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a hazed, dirty gold body with a smallish, tight, white head.

Smell: Damp hay and straw, some cutting fusel alcohol tones, decaying, moldy peaches, and with a faint but noticed funky, butyric note to it. Just not at all appealing.

Taste: A sweetness of crushed sugar cookies given an extra generous sprinkling of table sugar. Straw-like lightly malted barley. Hint of white peaches, cheap cider. Still quite sweet, then, some hot, astringent alcohol, that underlying unclean funkiness from the nose carrying over. Dirtied, hot finish with a lingering throat burn.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium-plus, fizzly carbonation.

Overall: Brigand is like a Belgian malt liquor.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Brigands demand your money or your life. Women require both."

--Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

Bright sparkling amber with a hint of apricot orange. The beer has a Belgianesque amount of carbonation, which has created a typically gorgeous, ivory colored crown. Sticky foam bridges between head and glass stretch and break like pulled taffy, leaving sudsy lace that could be more tenacious.

Brigand smells the part. Not the part of a highwayman, the part of a BSPA. It's golden apple fruity and has a pleasant yeasty spiciness as well. The green glass bottle might have resulted in some skunkiness... but it hasn't. For what it's worth, the new label is much better than the old.

The flavor isn't quite as impressive. This Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck ale falls a bit short when it comes to depth and complexity, qualities that great BSPAs (and Belgian tripels) are known for. Age can't be a factor since this '750' was bottled in April '07. I just might be convinced to go with the next highest flavor score (4.0) in the end. We'll see.

The dominant flavors are golden delicious apples, a few tart Granny Smiths, a few unripe pears and a dash of clove and white pepper. Sweet and bitter are perfectly balanced until the finish, when lightly lemony hops begin to assert themselves.

The mouthfeel falls in line with the rest of the beer's characteristics in terms of quality. There's just enough volume... and just enough creaminess... and just enough carbonation to please the senses.

Brigand is inaptly named because it does not demand a king's ransom. I can't recall the price, but I do remember that it was well short of $10. This may not be world-class ale, but it's solid from top to bottom. Definitely worth a look.

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Photo of Jason
4.32/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz green mini magnum bottle with a shiny teal foil top, corked and caged. Freshness date on the back label.

Appearance: Very hazed orange beige colour with a very well sustaining off white lace.

Smell: Fragrant with a mildly pungent barnyard tartness in the nose. Fresh sliced lemons and hay come to mind also.

Taste: Moderate body with a crisp and effervescent carbonation, obvious malt presence though the byproducts run rampant over your taste buds. Mild tangerine and grapefruit flavours, some phenolic medicinal tastes and a liberal hand of hops give an herbal minty twang that lingers for ever. Fruity and estery with a warming alcohol to boot. Earthy and barn yard characters a soft, raw honey like sweetness is the result of the residual sweetness though the nutty yeast and a grainy palate towards the end dries thing up in the finish.

Notes: Misleadingly strong and crammed complexity drives the taste buds wild … a bit overwhelming in a good way. Certainly a beer to think about and ponder "how does such great beer exist on Earth." Baked Brie would be a great pairing for this brew.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure when it happened, but the label on my bottle is much different than the one pictured. I have a picture of a guy pulling an arrow on a bow and looking like he is about to release it at my bookcase.

Pours a slightly foggy gold. White head forms and then drops leaving no lacing. Nose is the traditional yeasty, sugary funk. Flavor is smooth and what you would expect for the style. Nothing unusual, but nothing bland at the same time. Feel is good. Overall this is a good brew. Nothing crazy, but just a smooth and even BSPA that isn't terribly exciting.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.42/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the 1 PT. 9.4 fl. oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Bottled on 070418, cork says 06-2007.

Body color is very opaque and dull looking. A mix of yellow murky brown, and faint hints of yellow like orange on the edges. Carbonation though is white pinhead and very lively, huge streams continue throughout. Head is a little bit of retention, makes large about two fingers easily, settles to a nice fluffy cap. Some good qualities and not so appealing.

Nose is very impressive. A distinct yeast profile on this that is hard to pin down it seems. A mellow sweetness with a clove and spicy cardomom or some very nutty bark sense. Really good sense of hop tea like English bitterness, mixing with sweet Belgian malts and sucrose. Liking this.

Hits the palate in the right spot. Everything plays out on first sip. Playful carbonation, hints at bubbly champagne but dialed back with a good effervescence and malt depth. Sweetness brings honey and clove, and Belgian candy, but a good hop angle. Honey coats all around with nutmeg and brown dark toasted sensing spices. Warm feeling aftertaste without a big alcohol burn. Hints at depth with crispness.

Overall this is just wonderful I really do enjoy this.

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Photo of jwc215
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml cage-corked bottle (covered with paper on the top) - bottled on 070418 (I'll take that to mean April 18, 2007). The cork says 06-07. Poured into tulip glass:

Pours slightly hazed light golden with a tight-bubbled white head that is one-finger, descending to a thick patch, then staying. A bit of lacing sticks.

The smell is grainy, with bubblegum, lemon/orange zest and some grassy notes. Alcohol does show itself.

The taste is of bubblegum/cotton candy - sweet - with bittering, sharp, grassy/herbal balance. Alcohol shows itself in something of a raw way, in both flavor and sharpness, uet doesn't overwhelm or mask. There's some lemon/orange zest mixed in. Finishes dry.

Light-bodied, but coating. On the effervescent side. Carbonation is active, but not quite as much as some other classic examples of the style - not surprizingly, as the stream of bubbles in the middle of the glass is there, but not quite as aggressive as in others. Still it has a very nice body.

This is a well-balanced, complex, strong sipper. Easy to sip, and very enjoyable.

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Photo of Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Large bottle, corked and caged, Bottled in 3-99, best before dating (?) of 05-02 on label. Wasnt sure what to expect, cork popped with a medium release, this beauty poured murky,cloudy light brown. No yeast or sediment to be found, interesting. Large bubbles morphed to small, forming a small bubble, tan head which exhibited world class retention. lovely irregular lacing left on my chalice. Nose is barnyard/horse blanket, musty,earthy, spicy with some phelonic flourishes. Taste is of anise, gin, juniper. Spicy/minty/yeasty/thoroughly Belgian. 9% very well stored in the background. Yummy, interesting, complex stuff. I'm suprised by the low and mixed reviews for this stunning (IMHO) Belgian. Maybe it ages real well and I'm the beneficiary of dumb luck to have bought this yeasterday, after the store aged it for me for a few years. I'm going back to try to get some more!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Freshly tapped, in a Brigand branded tulip glass.

Clear pale golden appearance, slim white head.

Mildly hoppy nose, spices and citric zest. Soft malty aroma.

Taste: spicy, spritzy start, then lemon rind and apple come on board. Light bodied, with toasty, if sharp malt character. Crisp pear flavor appears and softly fades, melting into the rest.
Alcohol rears it's head, but doesn't pound the brain...not yet.

I forgot this was 9%...nice blonde ale, this one. Not as smooth as a golden ale, or as fully flavored as a tripel, but tasty enough to make it worth the while.

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Photo of GClarkage
2.9/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

04/20/08- Had on tap at the Toronado during Belgian Beer Month.

Presentation- Via the tap into a tulip-wine style glass.

Appearance- Fairly clear blonde hued. 1/4 inch white head with very light lace remaining.

Smell- Sweet malty nose which is mildly fruited. Alcholic nose as well.

Taste- At first the sweet and malty flavor is refreshing until the alcohol hits. Very boozy in character. Totally overwhelms the fruit notes and the malty goodness.

Mouthfeel- Really quite watery after the malt aftertaste fades....alcohol dries the tongue.

Drinkability- I'll pass on this one if I see it again. Reminds me of Westmalle Triple, but much less complex.

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Photo of stevoj
2.75/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

MEH! Not much going on here, all of the elements of a Belgian ale, but nothing stands out. Decent, but not outstanding. The label lured me in, and then stole my money.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.09/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a slightly hazy peachy amber with a fine two finger slightly off-white head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of stone fruit and apple juice, caramel malt and Belgian yeast, slightly sour at first. Flavor follows with sweet caramel malt, light stone fruit, apple juice, slight fruit rind and Belgian yeast. Finishes somewhat drier with mild sharpness from bittering hops and Belgian spicing. Medium bodied with good mouth feel from active carbonation. A nice, reasonably complex Belgian strong pale ale. This recently purchased bottle had a "bottled on:" code of 071024; could this really be a 5 year old bottle? I'd like to know because my last Brigand (drunk many years ago) was sour and astringent, which I attributed to being an old bottle. If this one is 5 years old, it has held up quite nicely with minimal oxidation.

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Photo of Gavage
3.82/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: clear orange in color with some yellow highlights. The head was 1/2" high and fell quickly to a surface foam. A spot or two of lacing developed. Only a few carbonation bubbles slowly rose to the surface.

Smell: brown sugar, honey, lemon zest, orange citrus, yeast, pepper, and alcohol make up a somewhat sweet but mildly spicy beer.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer. Smooth throughout. Long aftertaste as sweetness, pepper, yeast, and alcohol stick to the tongue for a while.

Drinkability: not a session beer at all, but one or two can be enjoyed during a session. Good beer but not one to rave about either.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.07/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Pours a cloudy straw yellow with a white fluffy foam that retains and laces very well. Aroma of Belgian yeast, subtle fruityness and a good helping of earthy, stewed hops. In the taste, mild tartness, green apple, yeasty and bready. Little alcohol taste, small wheat, and semi dry on the finish. Lighter bodied. Overall, a pretty average Belgian, but worth trying.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.22/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Snubby bottle into a tulip on a Sunday night, my 1st time with this beer. I gotta admit, Brigand has the worst label I have ever seen.

Brigand casts a darker than usual look for a Belgian Pale. Expecting a color similar to Duvel I see a darker shade of gold, a hint of amber and some bronze highlights. This makes for a odd color combo. The head is a off white vanilla color that reaches a good height but does not have the legs as other true Belgian foam bombs. It dies quick leaving a nice cap throughout but no lace.

First sniffs out of the tulip, I swore some hard alcohol or Jim bean was within cause I smelled it. I was turned off. I came back to it about 10 minutes later and things fared better. I get a lot of ripe fruit in a basket up front which usually takes a backseat within the style. Apples, pears and plums. Under that caramel malt. Under that some faint yeast and baked bread. A bolder nose for a pale, I dig it.

Tastes much fuller and fruitier than expected. Im not getting alot of wheat and yeast up front, in fact it's almost a moot point next to all the malt and fruit in this. The fruit basket stated above comes through center stage, it's bold leaving somewhat of a apple juice aftertaste. With the malt some caramel sweetness and just a bit of butterscotch. The hops are not making a hit on my taste buds but they are keeping this from being a sweet cloying fruity mess. They are used well.

The feel is smooth and not a rocky ride. at 9 percent, it really does not come up at all. Rich and fruity with mild carbonation. This is not fizzy at all on the tounge, no intrusions. This reminds me of a very light BSDA rather than what is listed here. I would drink this again and I would do a bomber some justice. This is easy drinking as far as i'm concerned.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.79/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on tap, April 2010 @ Brasserie Beck, Washington DC
This arrives from the tap with a light copper color that smells hoppier than the Lucifer I just had; though I would not say that this is expressively hoppy. There is a musty, somewhat oxidized, and sherry like aroma here that is a bit surprising for a beer coming from the tap. This is sweet and malty compared to the Lucifer I just had with a more caramelized character. I really wonder the age of this keg as it seems like this has some age on it; all the bottles I have had tasted similar to this and I suppose this oxidized character might actually be what the brewer is going for.

Hoppy flavors lean towards citrus when accentuated by the fermentation character. Musty malt flavors make this definitely taste aged some how, though it doesn't taste truly oxidized with cardboard notes or anything like that. The hoppy / herbal character is a nice touch here and in the end this is interesting, but certainly not exquisite.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 squat bottle picked up at thte Coop today for $3 (the Coop has a Bargain Bin... Woo Hoo!!). Label is different from the BA pic... shows a crusader archer who looks ready for business.

Poured into my Delirum tulip.. 3 finger head drops leaving little lacing over a clear dark straw/honey colored brew.

Fruity and mildly spicy .. all the traditional aromas fall into place but there are still pieces missing. Pale malts with whiffs of white pepper... sorta grassy hops emerge as it warms.

Flavor is big phenols .. Much better than the aroma .. spicy apricot and sweet tangerine juice. Traditional body and prickly carbonation. Leaves me wanting more.. but still is no slouch.

Cool to try for sure .. but sorta seems like a training wheel BSPA .. Not alot going on even as it hits room temp. I would be happy if I could brew it .. I wouldn't want to try and sell it.

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Photo of John_M
4.3/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Saw this on tap for the first time at Max's last night.

The beer pours a solid gold color with good head retention and lacing. On the nose one gets sweet honey, butter and cherry, and the beer comes across as pretty sweet smelling. To some extent the flavors on the palate replicate the nose, but the beer is far more complex then that. The sweet flavors of cherry, honey and apple are superimposed upon a backbone of sour, with some very nice light bitterness in the finish. This beer is pretty light on its feet, and I would never guess the 9% abv. However, there is a noticeable warming sensation, which is a clue that the abv. is up there a bit. The beer has a very smooth, easy going finish.

... but for the 9% (and rather hefty price tag for a glass), I could see having several of these over the course of an evening. Very nice beer.

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Brigand from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
3.78 out of 5 based on 211 ratings.
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