Piraat | Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

1,037 Reviews

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Belgian Strong Pale Ale, re-fermented with Bordeaux wine yeast

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-07-2001

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Reviews: 1,037 | Ratings: 2,428
Photo of bbtkd
4.09/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Piraat Belgian Ale, 10.5% ABV. Pours thick and dark orange with a lot of head on a careful pour. Nose is subtly fresh and spicy, taste is a bit sweet, slightly sour citrus, a bit of black pepper aftertaste, with almost no bitterness. Real unique flavor. Excellent mouthfeel, and overall outstanding. The BA listing says 10.8% but this bottle says 10.5%. This isn't the Piraat beer I intended to buy, so a pleasant surprise.

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Photo of citizencane
4.01/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Looks sunburnt orange with significant head. Smell is nondescript faint hops and a hint of sour. Taste is clove, sour hops, bready malt, and maybe a hint of banana and pine on the end. Mouthfeel is thick, chewy, and refreshing. Damn good, and I don't typically go for Belgian beers.

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Photo of flyingpig
3.97/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

330ml bottle:
Well-balanced & lively with an bubbly feel that was slightly boozy at the end thanks to the alcohol content. Nice fruits & the odd sweet malt in the early going that made it quite easy to drink but the warming kick at the end was appreciated. It was easier to drink than expected thanks to the balance & I particularly liked the light, crisp feel to the beer; it's an offering that I'll hopefully have again at some point.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.68/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From the brewery behind Gulden Draak comes this take on a tragically underrepresented style.

BOTTLE: Purchased in Denver, CO, for something like $18 a 4 pack. 330ml snub format. Brown glass. Iconic label design has a red and white motif but depicts a golden pirate ship. Branded white and gold pry-off crown cap.

10.50% ABV. "Belgian ale."

HEAD: A nice delicate coating of lacing sticks to the sides of my tulip as it recedes, which in spite of its robust ABV takes over 10 minutes to fully occur. Fluffy, airy, and soft in appearance with a nice billowing consistency and bright complexion.

BODY: Pale amber of terrific vibrance. Clean and filtered-looking, yet nevertheless lively, with a gorgeous glow.

A true to form appearance for the style. I'm eager to try it.

AROMA: Spicy, floral, peppery, and above all yeasty, with Belgian yeast-derived intricate subtle spice delicately playing with the drinker, promising a prickly delicate brew. Hints at indistinct tropical fruit. In spite of its monstrous ABV, there's not a hint of alcohol. Belgian pale and pilsner malts; possibly wheat? A blip of clove honey. Hints of bready malts.

Aromatic intensity is low. Promises a Belgian brew with an emphasis on delicate subtle flavours that doesn't shy away from a tropical fruit character that would be right at home in a loud American IPA but is more expertly reigned in here.

TASTE: Fruity, spicy, phenolic, estery, and warm, with a mildly sweet bready malt backbone evened out by pale and pils malts (and possibly wheat or oats?). No candi sugar here, but the sweetness is already there.

Warm but not boozy or hot, which is something at 10.50% ABV. These high ABV Belgian ales always drink easier than the loud American stouts and barleywines that seem to be branded as sippers these days.

Has a tropical fruit bend but it doesn't come from hops (which are primarily floral, and a little fruity but not tropically so). It's all yeasty esters. Make no mistake, Belgian yeast rules the roost in this delicately built brew.

Honey sweetness. Subtle bready malt tones. Crystal malts. Amber malts.

I can't say the balance is perfect seeing as its alcohol warmth will be off-putting to those drinkers unaccustomed to the strength of traditional Belgian ales. It's not the booziness of a tripel, but this isn't as approachable as most Belgian golden ales, nor is it as hoppy as most Belgian IPAs - in spite of being more hoppy than most more traditional Belgian ales.

MOUTHFEEL: Creamy, soft, prickly, and perfectly carbonated, with a slightly filling bread-like feel. There's a nice push-pull between coarseness and smoothness, dryness and wetness, but it errs on the more drinkable side. Has an alcohol warmth.

The prickly texture helps the yeasty spice sing, lending this delicate yet strong Belgian ale a nice harmony of texture and taste.

OVERALL: A bit warm even for a Belgian ale, though not as boozy as you'd expect a strong pale ale to be at 10.50% ABV. The contradictory dominance yet subtlety of the yeast alone is enough to make this brew worth trying, and it's a worthwhile entry in Van Steenverge's lineup - which is comparatively experimental in terms of Belgian brewing traditions.

Indeed, judging this by strict style conventions is a recipe for failure - and for missing the strengths of this somewhat unique brew. Closest to a tripel with a more aggressive hop bill - though it's anything but aggressive in comparison to contemporary American IPAs. If anything, drinking this ale in 2016 may make the discerning drinker reflect on whether hops have been pushed to too far an extreme; if Piraat can accomplish this level of depth, subtlety, and fruity character of flavour with a far more restrained and careful hop utilization, why waste so many hops on dry hopping the Ruinations and Palate Wreckers of the world?

Bold yet quiet, complex yet subtle, Piraat is a drinkable enjoyable treat of a brew that I'll be revisiting many times over the years (moreso in Belgium, where it's shockingly affordable).


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Photo of Pundit_of_Potability
4.89/5  rDev +21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Perhaps because it has been a long week of work, or maybe this ale is REALLY that good, but I was really extra fond of this ale when I started sipping on Friday night. What an explosion of malty goodness (with a hint of bitterness). The caramel maltiness is really the star here--with banana accents, nuttiness, spiciness and some yeasty loveliness....The head is gorgeous and the ale its self is a wonderful dark golden color. The mouth feel sizzles enough and finishes with a wonderful creaminess. Wow!

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Photo of jamesroses
4.24/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

33cl bottle

Appearance: hazy orange, lots of streaming carbonation, 3 finger white head, good retention and lacing.

Aroma: this one smelled like a very strong fruity hefeweizen IMO: banana, a bit spicy, some citrus, notable alcohol presence and ther tropical fruit like peaches.

Taste: very much like the aroma, with the addition of bitter hops and a somewhat tutti frutti aftertaste. The alcohol is very present too, maybe that would be something I don't like that much.

Mouthfeel: I'd say medium to full bodied, the carbonation is pretty strong and there's a bit of an agressive alcohol burn on the throat. Anyway, is really good.

Overall: a very nice and "exotic" tasting belgian beer. The simil hefeweizen character came as a surprise, but a good one. The gressive alcohol presence both in the aroma and mouth, specially in the mouth are something to improve IMO.

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Photo of 911CROFT
3.55/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle into the appropriate Piraat-branded oversized tulip. Paid £3.60 for a single.

Pours a dark, shiny, amber coloured body with a modest amount of fine visible streaming carbonation. A bubbly, two-finger in height, white head slowly condenses to a thick cap, leaving behind small amounts of sticky, soapy lace.

The modest nose is led by a combination of sweet malts and grains, traces of caramel and soft fruity esters in the form of banana, tart apple and light citrus. Towards the finish, plenty of alcohol becomes perceptible, along with some peppery spice and faintly floral hops. Taste roughly follows suit, leading upfront with caramelised toasty malts, banana and orchard fruits. Mid palate, taste transitions towards citrusy marmalade-like profiles. Notes of bitter orange, candied fruit and peel, brown sugar, vague dark fruits, spicy phenols and faintly medicinal alcohol all become apparent. Towards the back end, hints of floral and grassy hop profiles are detectable, but the flavour and finish are predominantly dominated by assertive generic bitterness and undisguised alcohol. In the mouth, an abundance of sparkling carbonation manages to lift the medium body, but the feel boarders initially towards unpleasantly prickly. The latter half of the glass improves to become somewhat smoother and creamier, but only after a little of the effervesce has been shed. After the swallow, peppery spices and lightly grassy hops linger momentarily, finishing quick and crisp as lively carbonation and warming alcohol work together to scrub the palate clean.

Overall this is a decent beer. It is rich, warming and reasonably complex, but a little too rough around the edges. Aggressive carbonation detracts from drinkability, while excessively bitter hop profiles and obvious alcohol overshadow the subtle complexities and balance I look for in the style. Ultimately I can't see myself picking up another bottle anytime soon.

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Photo of vainosuomi
4.4/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Look: Burnt gold/amber color, thick, creamy head
Smell: Lots of Belgian yeast (apple, apricot), spice, slight caramel malt
Taste: Like smell, comes off with a lot of sweet fruity yeast and malts. Malts add a brown sugar/sweet bread character as well. Subdued spicy/floral hops offer some bitterness. Somewhat boozy. Clean, bittersweet finish.
Feel: Creamy medium body, fairly carbonated, warm from the alcohol

Overall a great Belgian pale. Certainly has a more pronounced hop profile than other similar beers I've had.

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Photo of DanielCseklye
3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass from 335ml bottle.

L: A.mber hue with 2 fingers white head.

S: Honey, candy, esther and big yeast character

T: In the first seconds the big malt charachter overwhelmed me, then apricot notes accompanied by alcohol warmth

M: Dry finish, medium to bold body. Prickly carbonation. Alcohol warmth reminds me Belgian Single Malt stlye whiskey character

O: A very nice Belgian Strong Ale, amazing choice during cold nights

Food pairing: roasted chicken with spring onion curry cream

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From the 750 ml bottle in a snifter glass. This fine BSA pours a nice clear
amber color with a nice head of white dissipating foam that settles to a thick
ring, thin layer, and light lacing. Nose of green apples, candy sugar, subtle
yeasty esters, pears, and bubblegum. Flavors follow but exceed by volume with
pear and apple notes on the sides and front being seared into place by strong
alcohol and candy sugars. Honey and bubblegum follow on the middle and fade in the rear
with a nice bitter herbal hop note that that lingers with warming booze. Excellent mouth feel;
prickly and lively carbonation that gives a medium full mouth feel and a lingering sweet yet spicy
finish with a touch of white pepper and hop notes. Excellence from Belgium. Period.


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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
4.12/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the bottle, it pours amber with a small off-white head, slowly reducing to a thin layer. Lots of everything in the nose. The mouth is struck by it all, although unlike others, I note a touch of alcohol in the bite. Wow!

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Photo of threeviews
4.61/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 330ml bottle with a BOD of: 07IO. Translated, that is September(letter 'I') 7th(number "Zero+7"), 2015 (Letter 'O') into an oversized, Brasserie D'Achouffe branded Belgian tulip glass (similar to Duvel, but without the nucleation). With a published shelf life of 24 months, this bottle is well within the wheelhouse of freshness...as a matter of fact, this is the most fresh I have ever encountered Piraat.

A - Using the same method as pouring a Duvel, Piraat pours with similar vigor. The beer presents itself with a deep orange hue sporting a full, 4 finger (2") rocky, white head.

S - Absolutely brilliant, resplendent with sweet stone fruits (peach, apricot, green apple), flowers, honey and cotton candy/bubblegum. Very reminiscent of La Fin Du Monde and Don De Dieu (Unibroue)...two of my all-time favorites. Alcohol is completely masked.

T - Much like the aroma, Piraat's flavor blooms with flavors of stone fruit, ripe citrus and bubblegum sweetness. Alcohol...what alcohol? This drinks half of its labeled ABV (of which I can only assume is correct).

M - Medium mouthfeel, but with its persistent and prickly carbonation, it seems the body is much lighter. It finishes amazingly dry, like that of an American IPA/DIPA...even at today's standards!

O - Piraat is juicy and finishes dry. At 10.5%ABV (and like Duvel who is 1-2points less in ABV), this is one dangerously drinkable brew...perhaps a nod to Pirates who stormed the waters. Although the price for a 4-Pack will cause you to second guess a purchase (~$16), this is a spectacular Belgian Golden Strong Pale Ale and if obtained fresh (i.e. within 6-24 months...or earlier) will provide an exceptional experience.

Postscript: Although this is my inaugural review, I have had this before (old label with an actual caricature of a pirate on the label. However, I feel that the bottles I had (with the old label) were well past its prime which resulted in a cloying, sugar-cookie aroma and flavor. I am absolutely floored by the impression left by this bottle which I used to compose this review and assume it to be to be ~9 months fresh. That said, I am beginning to appreciate "living beer" more and more...Like those who brew with whole-leaf hops, Piraat is one more offering that confirms my theory of extended freshness due to bottle conditioning.

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Photo of martinpfal
4.79/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

For almost 6.00 a bottle it's not one to get regularly, but one I truly enjoy.
Look of dark hazy Amber. Smell was complex....yeast and bread-y sweetness. Taste is just as complex and smooth. Carbonation effervescence mouthfeel with slight sweet malt. Not boozy and very much what a Belgian should be...sipped and enjoyed. One to recommend all the way!

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Photo of JakeScully
4.36/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Belgian Strong Pale Ale are my favorite style so I might be biased here. In my opinion this is just as good as Duvel, slightly stronger. Something to be sipped after a hard days work. Cheers!

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Photo of Everydayoff
4.29/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into a Tulip.

Hazy dark amber hue with majestic, rocky and billowy off-white head that everlastingly withstands with excellent retention, it is just slowly recedes while also yields magnificent lacing here and there, small effervescence floating actively by the push of carbonation.

Phenol, spice, yeasty, acidic, clove, banana, bubblegum, candy sugar, big malty, aroma seems to shuffle in every single sniff. Some part of its yeasty character reminds me of German Hefe.

It starts with ester with a sharp fruity sweetness then a touch of warm alcohol in the middle together with some spiciness, herbal and grassy notes that mingle together. Malt is also there as a significant backbone. Hop bitterness reveals at the end which gradually develops from sip to sip. The palate also senses the aftertaste with some semi-sweetness and dryness.

The palate contacts with smoothness through the medium to bold body. Mouthfeel is a bit syrupy and chewy with right amount of carbonation, very dry in the finish that makes you want to continue sipping more and more.

Complex, rich, and elegant brew, alcohol is a punch to your face but who cares? This beer is big in all aspects. Truly incredible and enjoyable.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
2.77/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Plenty of yellow color, not the most clarity by any stretch of the imagination. Small 1/4" white head. Aroma was massively big on the alcohol. WTF? Why do people dig this? A little bit of fruity yeast ester, but damn if that isn't extremely hidden because of the alcohol.

No hops, some bitterness from the alcohol heat, not much in the way of malt to cover up this beast. So hot. Vodka boilermaker up in this. Mouthfeel just totally enveloped by the heat of alcohol. Tastes like it is 30% abv.

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Photo of Rukeli76
4.29/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a chalice from a 355ml bottle. Served just slightly chilled. I'm not sure of the age but I do know it came from a Christmas variety pack, which means it's been sitting in my cupboard for either six or eighteen months.

Deep amber colour. Big foamy three-inch head. Lots of lacing.

Smells of sweet brown bread and dried fruit -- particularly apricot.

Quite bitter for a Belgian ale with beautifully complex, shifting notes of ripe peach, apricot, and candied citrus peel. The amber colour made me worry it might be too sweet, but that's not a problem (at least with this aged bottle).

Prickly carbonation. Lots of warm booziness too.

This is a top-notch Belgian strong pale ale with a unique character. It's got much more bitterness and complex fruity esters you get in the standards like Duvel or La Chouffe.

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Photo of Ant777uk
4.66/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Nice deep reddish copper colour, bubbly foam.

Deep, intense aroma. Peach and apricots coming through.

An abundance of flavors happening. Intense hoppy bitterness. It's a really great beer. I prefer this to Tremens and Tripel Karmeliet. This is more daring, it packs a punch. It's intense bitterness shines through, supporting the other flavours. The taste sensation lasts for 30 seconds, slowly changing with time. Citrus and orange peel notes, with some peach and apricottyness, play on the tongue with some banana peel, lime, and hints of liquorice.

Every taste is different, there are so many flavors.

This is great. The alcohol level is complemented by the big, bold bitterness and overall taste.

Mouth feel is creamy, tingly and pretty much perfect.

Piraat rules

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Photo of sjccmd
4.09/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fresh, floral, fruity aroma. Perfume like. Hard candies, gum drops, juicy fruit, graham cracker. Spicy clove and pepper. As complex as it is, it doesn't seem to be overpowering.

Pours clear burnt orange/amber. Large off-white almost tan head. Good lacing and retention.

The flavor is much more bready than the aroma. Toast, slightly nutty malts, apricots, cinnamon. Firm bitterness. Hops are spicy and herbal. Sweet warming alcohols linger on the palate. Cooked apples and caramel. Finish is somehow fairly dry.

Medium light body, high carbonation. Spicy alcohols round off the finish.

Lots of fruit in the nose, surprisingly bready in the flavor, and firmly bitter for the style. I wouldn't say it hides the alcohol as there's a lot of warmth on the palate, but the bitter bite and dry finish keep it relatively light on the palate.

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Photo of Spikester
3.87/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy golden amber with a good four fingers of foamy white head. The head lasts a long time! Good amount of lace as well.
Smell is white pepper spice bread and faint banana.
Taste is white pepper spice sweet malt banana and some herbal hops.
Mouthfeel is medium to full with plenty of carbonation. Finish is dry and very lightly bitter.
Overall a big beer and a little boozy.
No idea how old this might be. The bottle code reads: 26EO 16:58.
Would I buy this again? Maybe but it will be awhile.

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Photo of mpyle
3.68/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Sampling it a little too cold, so take with a grain of salt:

Slightly cloudy dark gold/pale amber color. Darker than expected. Pours a beautiful creamy head, great head retention for a strong beer.

A gentle citrus fruit aroma, almost like a fruity seltzer. Hints of alcohol, but not much at cold temperature.

Gentle fruitiness up front, but tempered by the drying of the carbonation and alcohol. Definitely doesn't come across as sweet - very well attenuated.

MF - high carbonation jumped out at me before any flavor attributes. Fairly light body for the strength, alcohol somewhat prominent in the finish.

A little too boozy for me. Might just be that I prefer tripels to big golden strongs. No doubt is a good example of the style, just not a style that I like.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Piraat is on the "1001" list and deserves it.
It is very difficult to remember how many times I've had this beer. To make a valiant effort, let's say: "over a dozen." (I fall for Global Beer's sampler pack as often as I can, which usually has one Piraat and a branded rendition.)
I suppose that makes me a Follower, if not a Fan.
Classic head from this strong pale, almost amber ale. Full of life and lace that never goes away.
Smell is not unlike an alluring perfume... sweet, but no warning of the danger of its alcohol.
The taste is the same... particularly with a sweet red sauce... on the pasta. I imagine the bubbles help cut through butter and cheese. Overall, a delicious ale with foods I eat.
The aftertaste? The sweetness goes away, and becomes dry... almost too dry to let the foods play, too.

Whomever said that "ale is like life", at least, got this one right.

12/9/16, a decrease in mouthfeel... now that I drank it without food.
But, I will always go back to Piraat.

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Photo of CHickman
3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very well aged bottle (at least 1.5 years), it pours cloudy copper color with bubbles racing up actively to a small off white head that faded on the quick side, leaving good spotty lacing. I expected a big head that would stick around, but this head was not really impressive at all.

Smells of booze soaked malt, toasted grains, tart green apple, rotting fruit, medicinal or light rubbing alcohol, caramel, Belgian yeast, cider, mild floral hops and light barnyard funk. The fruity notes are the strongest with the malt bill adding some complexities to keep the alcohol in check. It smells strong and shows it's age nicely.

Tastes like it smells with with more fruit up front which is a mix of dark rotting fruit like cherry, pear, apple, raisin, tart green apple and then more noticeable booze. Like the nose the sweet malt, toasted grains, Belgian yeast and cider come through along with herbs, light floral hops, caramel, honey and medicinal or light rubbing alcohol. The light barnyard funk is also there, but it fades and is replaced by a spicy mix of pepper, brown sugar, and coriander. More balanced than the aroma, the funk, slight bitterness and rotten fruit create a nice flavorful blend that tames the 10.5% ABV and makes it relatively smooth for a strong ale.

Mouthfeel is smooth, thick and chewy with a dense body that has texture and slides down easier than expected with it's high ABV, funk and bitterness. It gets better as it warms and opens up, but this is a slow sipper and a one per night type of brew. Looking forward to having it again.

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Photo of Czequershuus
3.47/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a hazy beige with a large head. The aroma is fairly muted, presenting date, banana, pecan, and grape juice. The flavor is heavily tilted towards date, as well as banana bred, and that British soda vimto. Overall I find it quite sweet. The mouthfeel is very rich, with lots of velvety small bubble carbonation. Overall I was a bit disappointed here - not that this is not a good beer, but I find it a bit one dimensional, and too sweet, even for the style.

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Photo of Andrewharemza
4.19/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From bottle, Pours a hazey murky golden with a big fluffy white head. Aroma of spices, citrus, and yeast. Taste some spice, Apple, Lemmon, cherry and caramel. Very nice.

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Piraat from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
4.04 out of 5 based on 2,428 ratings.
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