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 Rayek
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Tulip.

A: Hazy apricot, with active carbonation. A Pillow like eggshell cap has great retention, but leaves little in the way of lace.

S: Before it warmed up, this beer had a distinct EPL character with its musty hops and straw like malts. As it warmed up; however, green grape and alcohol crept in and gave the beer a nice white wine quality.

T: As the beer warms, the complexity improves. Sweet flavors or grape and pear start things out. Balance is provided by a coriander and clove spiciness, plus an alcohol bite. Finishes warm, with a slightly metallic spiciness.

M: The light and slightly grainy body has a high level of tongue tingling carbonation. The beer's lightness makes it not feel as strong as it is.

D: A combination of a light body and fairly well masked alcohol make this beer go down quicker than the strength would recommend. A nice accompaniment to a cool November evening.

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Photo of TheSarge
4.26/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting new label from what's on the site. It's a medieval dud getting ready to fire an arrow from a bow. It's actually a real picture, not a drawing of any sort.

I fired this baby into a Duvel tulip, which was a great idea. There is a massive amount of clumpy white head, which retains quite well. The body is slightly hazy and is a great gold color.

Aromas are of sweet over ripe orange, coriander, and powdered sugar.

The taste is fruity as well with the over ripe orange and a little white grape is there too.

This beer feels prickly and crisp, finishing with a slight warming alcohol.

Overall this is a very well balanced and refreshing strong beer. Goes great with any weather!

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Photo of peabody
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a slightly hazy yellow to amber color with one finger of white suds.
This bottle was bottled on 070327. I guess that's march 27th of 07?
Smell is alcohol and sugary spices. Allspice and mint clove with a very belgian yeast that burns the nose.
Taste is belgian all the way. Sweet and spicey with pepper notes and then the alcohol burn afterward.
Mouthfeel is a bit sticky but I really like sticky.
With a 9%er drinkability can't be good but I would try to drink a bunch of these cause they taste so good.

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Photo of Vancer
3.51/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Corked and caged green magnum bottle pours a Champaign like brew, albeit with a tinge of orange/amber color. Label notes bottled on 070418 - wtf? Thick white head fizzes up easily and has some staying power.

Aroma has me concerned - cider like, apples and oranges. Hint of vinegar.

Quaff is a strange bird of astringent apple cider with a heavy dose of summer spices - black pepper and coriander lead the way. Not the best Belgian PA, but I wouldn't turn it down either.

Fizzy body hides the 9%, sips enjoyable on this summer day while BBQing some chicken.

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

A- Dark honey color; poured with a nice rocky head (quick pour from bottle) that was well-retained.

S- I'm getting some light sweet aromas from the nose, along with some other delicate notes of pears, corriander, and Belgian yeast.

T- A wonderful malty surprise! While this is unbalanced to the malty side of things, I find this beer to be wonderful (as I am a malt guy myself!)

I am getting everything I expected off the nose, but in greater intensity- sweet pale malt, tropical fruit, corriander and yeast. In addition, I get some lemon zest up front and some hoppy dryness towards the end.

M- It's hard to describe the mouthfeel here. It seems firmer and creamier because of the retained head that creeps into each sip. I would imagine this beer to exhibit less body if it weren't for this head. Good carbonation.

D- Very drinkable. I can't say I've had a Belgian Ale quite like this... and I wouldn't mind having several more!

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Photo of charlzm
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 06/26/09 at Blue Palms, Hollywood. Noted on menu as 8.9% ABV.

A hazy, pale yellow beer. A bashful white head of fine bubbles clings to the edges of the glass. Well-carbonated.

Aroma has a hint of juicy fruit sweetness.

A dash of green apple in the flavor (think Bass Ale). Exceptionally but agreeably bitter with a bit of funk on the finish.

Parchingly dry on the tongue.

Fairly straightforward (as in not complex) flavor, relatively high ABV and near-brutal bitterness make this one a pass the next time I see it. Now where's that bottle of Duvel...?

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Photo of clvand0
4.3/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle. This beer pours a cloudy yellow-orange color with a nice white head that has good retention and leaves a little lacing on the glass. The aroma is mild, but there is a hint of citrus and spice in there. The flavor is much better than I expected. There is a peppery spice like paradise grains that blends well and there is also a slightly tart character that lends itself to citrus. Very tasty beverage. Somewhat yeasty. The body is medium and the drinkability is dangerously good for 9%.

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Photo of drpimento
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Mmmm this's long been one of my favs. Pours with a big foamy frothy white head and some lace. Aroma is spicy, vineous, and very yeasty. A little bitter flavor and lots of sweetness. Honey flavors, apples, pears, belgian spices. Nice carbonation - sort of champagney. Great finish. Yummy beer! Lame new label though. Definitely strong.

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Photo of Nickls
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(From notes)

A - Vibrant orangey yellow color, spiderweb lacing throughout the sampling, and a very thin white head

S - Light fruity, citric, and tropical fruit aromas. Touch sweet malt aroma

T - Deeper passion fruit flavor shows up in the taste; lightly yeasty; malty sweetness; flowery hop bitterness. There are a lot of layers to this brew, really complex but nicely done.

M - Thinner MF, coats the palate just alright. I felt like this needed a bit more body to support the flavors and abv (though the alcohol was completely hidden).

D - Really good considering that I didn't know it was 9% at the time of sampling. Really fooled me there, and found this to be more of a sipper though. Lots of flavors going on that required additional attention which made things interesting.

Overall, thought this is a very interesting brew that holds a lot of complexity. I hope to revisit this again. Nice brew.

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Photo of nick76
3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

The aroma is malty and sweet with spice, hops, incense, and apples. The appearance is golden with a large foamy head. The flavor is like the aroma. The palate is thin. Overall a nice beer. I liked what this beer had to offer even though it doesn't have anything outstanding.

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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 BarryNL
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Found this one on tap in a local restaurant that always seems to have one or two interesting beers on. It was actually advertised as an IPA rather than a Belgian Pale Ale, and I think it was more akin to the English style.

A: Very clear - I think it must have been filtered - a very nice copper colour with a fluffy white head.

S: Incredibly hoppy - not quite sure what sort of hop - could be either an English or German noble hop.

T: Again, all about the hops. Well balanced with a nice bitterness in the finish. Some crystal malt flavour adds complexity to the hops.

M: Pretty good - a nice rich mouthfeel. A bit overcarbonated if it's an IPA but fine for a Belgian.

D: The hops do become a bit overpowering after the second. Still, this is an intense hoppy Pale Ale to be enjoyed occasionally but not in excess.

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Photo of tr4nc3d
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This poured a golden pale yellow color with some slightly orangish highlights. Big white 2" inch head that stays for a good time leaving some slight lacing.

The sweet citrusy smell of belgian pale ales, very familiar smell. Citrusy, grapefruit, piney, floral hops, slight spicy tone to it, caramelized sugar.

Sweet and citrusy with a mildy bitter hoppiness to it. Has a slightly dry finish to it that leaves you wanting to take another drink.

Mouthfeel is medium body with slight carbonation, after a while you notice a spicyness aftertaste to it.

Nothing spectacular, drinkability is ok but theres better beers of this style worth seeking.

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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 abents
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sits a cloudy amber orange color with a big white head that fades soon enough. Smells of citrus, yeast, and a slight hay/barnyard characteristic. Very malty taste for a Belgian spa, interesting. Starts with fruitiness abounding followed by some nice spiciness and bitter nutty malt finish. Has this interesting clash of sweetness/bitterness that blends well and makes this a nice brew. The maltiness that lingers is very inviting and the alcohol warming in the finish makes this beer pretty nice. Good carbonation with a nice creamy medium bodied mouthfeel. Very nice beer, would definitely have again.

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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 corby112
3.1/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Serving type: 750 ml bottle.

Pours a dark amber color with a thin foamy white head. Aroma is spicy with noticeable alcohol presence and light fruit notes. Spicy alcohol flavor that is a little overbearing, overtaking the slight touches of citrus and berry.

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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 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 SIRIUS2
4.16/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tapered pint at Tyler's Taproom in Apex, NC

Orange gold and clear in the glass with an incredibly fluffy white head of about 2-3 fingers. Nice white lacing to the finish.

Aromas are interesting as a lighter malty sweetness combines with something more herbal, perhaps even grassy or lightly citric - but everything presents in balance. There really isn't one aroma that jumps out at you.

Light malt sweetness is noticeable up front but other flavors quickly come to the fore with a slight tart fruit flavor. Everything stays nice and tight on the tongue with good solid flavors that want to tend toward the sweet, but not by much. Alcohol is quite noticeable in the finish with a bit of warming on the way down. The final linger dries out just a bit.

I very much enjoyed this one and wonder why I waited so long to try it! If you like the style, or Belgians in general you have to give this one a shot.

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Photo of Zorro
3.41/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear amber colored beer with a massive white head, no need to encourage the head on this one.

Smell is sweet and yeasty with a strong candy apple aroma. Mildly spicy with a slight cinnamon aroma. The usual coriander is completely absent here.

The taste starts out sweet and slightly tart with a noticeable alcohol burn and flavor. Mildly fruity with and apples and roses flavor.

Mouthfeel is good.

Not that bad of a beer but it isn't as good as the reference beer for the style namely Duvel. Worth a try and after that go back to the Duvel.

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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 becktone
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From notes 9-22-08
Edit: Bottled on Date reads 070327. I take that to mean that this beer was March 27 2007. I'd really like to try it before it had any age on it, but finding it here, in the US, only a month or two old...Hah, good luck!

Eye: Into a Duvel Tulip: Aye, this one looks as it should. Color is a clear dark gold-tannsih-brown. Head is a huge rocky foam, has good retention and leaves some nice lacing. There's nothing more you could expect or want from this beer. Of course, I'm still convinced Duvel has the best appearance of any Belgian Strong Pale-perfect lacing.

Nose: Sweet malt, fruity, honey, and some slight spiciness. Reminds me much of the aroma of Midas Touch, or mead. Clove phenols are also here. Really nice balance of aromas here, a nice blend of aromas from malt, yeast, and alcohol. Nothing real wild, just your average nicely smelling Belgian Strong Pale.

Tongue: Really spicy this beer. Not hot but pretty damn warm, real dry. Woody/earthy character really comes out with the spiciness/peppery character of this beer. Not quite what I was expecting from this one. Not too much sweet malt flavor in here. Hop bitterness makes itself well known, probably one of the few belgians I've drank where hop bitterness actually gets through. Furthermore, this beer seems to focus on it. I might actually classify this one as a Belgian IPA. Yes there is some hop flavor to, but the hops really shine in the bittering aspect. The bitterness mixes well with some woody notes, and as the beer warms more sweet malt starts to come out.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: As aforementioned this one finishes dry. Medium on the palate with lower and more delicate carbonation. The beer leaves the tongue dry and feeling swollen. This is one I'll gladly finish, and I look forward to finishing the four-pack I bought, I look forward to exploring this particular beer's depth more....However, I do not think that I'll buy it again. For me this beer isn't worth $15 and odd change for a four-pack.

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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 TheMistler
3.87/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured draught, into a Brigand-specific glass. A puffy white head that both stuck around and clung to the side of the glass for an extended period time. A coppery gold coloration, clear.

A crisp nose, with subdued but noticeable sweet, fruity notes (another reviewer mentioned pear - that seems like as good a place as any to start). Spice and the whiff of alcohol round out the aroma.

Whew - strong, though not overwhelming, alcohol right in the front of the taste. Light malts are moderated by some nicely complex spicing and some hops.

While overall I still found this Belgian blonde to be good n' crisp, it seemed just a bit too creamy (diacetyl?).

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