Witches' Brew | Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

very good
120 Reviews
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Witches' BrewWitches' Brew

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Style: Tripel

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.30%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Beerbuddha on 10-17-2007

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Reviews: 120 | Ratings: 228
Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an orange amber with a thick white head and is appealing.

Big bee's wax nose; big Belgian fruit and ripe bananas and spice in the nose, quite nice.

Pleasant full mouthfeel. Clean flavors of spice, orange, honey and fruit. Rich full body and character. Flavors and general character is a bit sweet but not unappealing. Big sweet medium fruit finish.

This is simply a nice example of a decent and appealing triple. It is very pleasant and almost in the catagory of a holiday ale with the spicy/sweet character. Worth the try.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sweet, spicy, and fruity- this Halloween Tripel delivers what's best about the style but doesn't add much to capture the flavor of the scary holiday.

Pouring a hazy hue of orange, copper, and peach- the beer builds a fluffy and airy ivory white head that retains impressively while leaving connected patterns of lace all around the glass. A very nice looking Tripel, but a tad richer shade toward amber than I'm used to in the style.

Peach, appricot, pear, apple, and oranges all fill the nose along with a spicy note of white pepper, clove, and ginger. A backbone of malt sweetness give a candy-coated fruit scent throughout.

Flavors are very consistent with the aromas. The malt flavors represent a range of powdered sugar, cookie dough, and freshly baked light breads. An estery mix of peaches and appricots become dominant flavors along with the background notes of pear, apple, and orange. Low hop bitterness allows for a yeasty spicy of ginger, clove, and white pepper to balance. Lightly herbal and grassy late, the hops have only a mild impact at finish.

Rich and somewhat sugary to feel, the beer has a more robust malt character that doesn't dry in finish the way more classic versions do. Low hopping rates also disallow the dryish ending and promote a sweeter, longer finish that hinders drinkability everso slightly.

An overall very straight forward Tripel with more malt character than the style forcasts. Where hop balance is foregone for yeasty spice, the beer still balances fairly well. A great choice going into the Halloween weekend.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not quite the witching hour yet, but what the everloving hell, it sure seems appropriate...

This beer pours a hazy pale golden hue, with tons of billowy, foamy, and eventually chunky white head, which leaves some nice thin lace around the glass in its wake. It smells of fruity grain, pepper, herbal alcohol, and a bit of yeast. The taste is sweet candied malt, citrus, pineapple, raisin, with a bit of warming alcohol, and earthy, herbal hops. The carbonation is quite sedate, the body full, sweet, and creamy in that fruity manner. It finishes sweet and sugary, the malt still holding strong, the proclaimed 'hoppyness' not really doing all that much to counter.

On the whole, a very sweet tripel, but with well-integrated booze, which sounds very witchy, or like the work of Beelzebub himself...

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a hazy bright golden color ale with a super large foamy head with good retention and some great lacing. Aroma of fruity ester with peppery yeast and sweet Belgian style malt notes are quite nice. Taste is a mix between some fruity ester and peppery yeast with some rustic Belgian malt notes with light residual candi sugar notes. Body is fuller then average with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well brewed and enjoyable without re-writing the style.

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Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a cloudy, orange color with a two-finger, khaki, soapy head of foam. It left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of clove, spices, yeast and light caramel malt.

T - It had a very nice spicy and yeasty character with a good dose of clove. It had a nice caramel malt backbone.

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

D - This is a very good tripel. Pretty easy drinking despite its high ABV.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into chalice, 26HH bottle code(?). Pours lightly hazy golden orange color with a good 2 finger foamy white head with great retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings to the glass, with a small amount of carbonation streaming up. Aromas of apple, pear, apple skin, caramel, grape, candi sugar, raisin, clove, herbal, earth, and yeast spiciness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity. Taste of apple, pear, raisin, grape, clove, candi sugar, caramel, herbal, earth, and yeast spiciness. Lingering notes of light fruits, caramel, candi sugar, clove, earth, and yeast spices on the finish for a bit. Awesome balance of malty flavors with great complexity; no cloying sweetness at all. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a fairly creamy and slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is extremely well hidden with hardly any warming noticed after the finish. Very smooth to sip on. Overall this is a highly excellent tripel! Great flavor balance and complexity; and very smooth to sip on. Really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.56/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

750mL corked & caged bottle - $9.99 at Bullock's Wine & Spirits in Marietta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a relatively clear, pale golden body with a tall, billowing, meringue-like, white head.

Smell: Pils malts, a distant toastiness, and notes of pears soaking in sugar water, honeysuckle, Granny Smith apples with a touch of floral apple blossoms and a very teensy hint of spice, all cut with some stinging wafts of alcohol.

Taste: Pilsner malts, light toasted grain accents and a sweetness akin to rock candy. A few drops of simple mead, a splash of Tott's champagne. Fruit tastes of pears and sourish green apples, though, as it warms, a hint of orange marmalade comes out. Noted yeastiness. Modestly bitter. Slight flourish of acidity. Dusting of spices and some warming alcohol tones approaching the finale, but it still finishes a bit sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Lively mouthfeel with an effervescent degree of carbonation.

Drinkability: A near-ten-buck threesome between a Belgian blonde, a malt liquor, and a low-grade champagne. Eh, it's alright, though I find the sweetness a bit tiring in the long-run.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Closer to tangerine orange than grapefruit yellow, with abundant bubbles jumping off the bottom of the glass. The result is a Belgianesque crown of ivory-beige foam that is both rocky and sticky. Tattered sheets of lace look mighty fine, keeping the appearance score right where first impressions put it.

The typical tripel characteristics are present in the nose, but there's too much unmasked alcohol. Specifics include pears macerated in Poire Williams (pear eau de vie) and vodka, with very little yeasty spiciness. This one could go either way on the palate.

The first mouthful doesn't help the decision between 3.5 and 4.0. Looks like I'll have to get much deeper into the bottle before any firm conclusions can be reached. I'm guessing that the beer's booziness and lack of complexity are going to drag down the taste score... and probably the drinkability score too.

Plenty of untoasted malt holds down the bottom end. Witches' Brew is more bitter than most tripels, which would be wonderful if good hop flavor was in abundance as well. The flavor profile includes rock candy, pears and apples, bitter grasses, a dash of clove and a shot of grain alcohol. To be fair, the beer is mellowing out a tad as it warms. An early glint of metal fades by the end of the first glass.

The mouthfeel is actually a highlight. It isn't up there with the style's best, but it's creamy enough and has enough quality carbonation to get the job done in fine fashion.

Despite what the label predicts, Witches' Brew has not put a spell on me. It's better than Brouwerij Van Steenberge's Augustijn Ale and not quite as tasty as Bornem Tripel. Like ice cream, even a so-so tripel is pretty good beer, so I'm not too upset that it took $11.33 to give this 750 ml bottle a home.

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Photo of russpowell
3.79/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an effervescent golden/honey with 2 fingers of pearl white head. Average head retention & some lacing

S: Slight phenolic hints, band aids & pineapple & honey

T: Coriander, dryness & band aids, some pineapples. Grassy hops, more pineapple, green bananas, grapefruit & lemon, candi sugar as this warms. Finishes with a slight acidic twang, & more tropical fruit, plus green apple

MF: Sticky, with low carbonation, but a slightly acidic twang, that morphs into a more champagne type feel

Drinks alright, this is not really a tripel to get too excited about, let it warm waaay up

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

Big thanks to Eric for gifting me with a bottle of this quite some time ago. 750 corked and caged bottle poured into a couple of tulips. The brew appears a clear copper with 3 fingers of yellowish head. The composition is big and flufy with a constant stream of supporting bubbles. A wall of lace coats the glassware.

The smell is lightly earthy but with a suppoerting candy sweetness instead of malt. A solid spicy yeast inclusion brings out a scent of clove, coriander and it is mildly vinous with a hint of cork/old musty wood.

The taste is sweet like candy sugar just like the aroma indicates. However, the flavor blends from candy sweetness into a caramel/toasty maltiness as well. Spices from the yeast keep things lively in the mouth with hints of clove, earth qualities and pear skins.

This is a medium bodied brew that is big and bubbly with the carbonation but fitting for the styke. It is quite a warming brew that hides the alcohol well initially bu really gets warming through the experience. All around a solid brew that I enjoyed with some unique character.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

A real nice peach orange color, cloudy a bit with a real nice off white banana like yellow colored head. Makes a nice somewhat creamy/soapy presentation, but also gives real nice carbonation rising too.

Wonderful nose on this tripel. Clove spice and sweet nutmeg, light taffy sugars, a real nice brown toasty dry spice and sweetness. Just classic tripel smelling really digging this.

Taste has a real great feel first and foremost. Creamy and just a hint of wet but gives big depth to the palate. Rich malt and slight booze, but a real mix of clove and hop bitter. Big warming in the pit of the stomach finish with no burn. Mild sugar sticky sweetness combining with a creamy milk also. Crisply carbonated just a hair to make it playful, with honey coating lips on each sip.

A delicious tripel, going to be buying more of this in the future for sure.

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Photo of GClarkage
2.78/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

10/18/08- Purchased at the Garlic Shoppe in Gilroy, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle, both caged and corked. Did not look for freshness info. Poured into a champagne style glass.

Appearance- Oily looking golden pour. Champagne-looking bubbles, fairly effervescent. Smaller 1/4 inch head and watery light lace spotting.

Smell- Smells very grainy with alcohol, confectioniers sugar and a bit of corriander.

Taste- Is there a category for a Belgian style Malt Liquor? That's what this reminds me of. Very grainy and malty in flavor with a strong alcohol taste, not really strong in feeling, just flavor. A good amount of powdered sugar with not much in the spice area. Reminds me of Westmalle Tripel, but with a malt liquor kick.

Mouthfeel- Higher sharp carbonation level, alcohol aftertaste and fuller mouthfeel.

Drinkability- Did I get an off bottle? Seems everyone else likes this. I didn't care for it at all. I almost dumped it...but being on vacation, it was the only beer I had.

 986 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from 3/2011 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a murky medium orange amber with a huge white head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of sweet malt and light fruit, with Belgian spicing. Sweet fruit and light malt start, with an almost metallic spicing. Finishes sweet with hints of fruit, caramel and honey. The somewhat astringent middle does not meld well with the other flavors. A well made ale with some nice flavor, but marred by the spicing.

 469 characters

Photo of liamt07
4.06/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the LCBO, 750ml into a tulip. Best before August 13/14.

Clear golden orange, gargantuan white head that sticks around for days. Obligatory lacing and chunks of retention. Nose has some light hopping, a hit her ak with some faint citrus. And a good bit of spice from the yeast. Taste has some hops upfront, moderately sweet malt and finishes with some light fleshed fruits and bitterness. Some sweet gum/chewy candy as well. Alcohol is moderate to minimal, medium full feel and despite the massive apparent carbonation is quite low on the palate. A nice Belgian pale/tripel.

 586 characters

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


Poured into a chalice a very nice hazy golden yellow color, nice carbonation, with a nice creamy/foamy one-finger white head, with some nice sticky lacing to follow. The nose is malty, with a nice yeast note, some coriander, slight peppery note, slight hoppyness. The taste is malty, sweet, yeasty, with a nice touch of spices. Medium body. Drinkable, this one really surprised me, a nice tasty brew.

 420 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours golden with a three-finger white head. The beer was hazy when it was poured but cleared up as it warmed. The aroma was strong Belgian yeast with some citrus. I got mainly lemon and orange with some spice as well. The flavor was fruity with a strong yeast character. There was definitely some wild yeast funk to the beer, but it was not overwhelming. Medium mouthfeel and medium-high carbonation.

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Photo of biegaman
3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Though I'd love nothing more than to make some kind of spooky reference, Witches Brew legitimately looks like it belongs around the neck of an Olympian. Polished and golden, the beer sports perfect clarity and athletic bubbles. Tripels characteristically look light compared to the huge strain put on them by a heavily weighted head, but this offering is modestly carbonated.

The aroma has the prescribed amounts of sweet cereal grain, fruity esters, and floral phenols, but while it meets quotas, it far from exceeds them. Tripels are notoriously perfumed, so while this has a relatively heightened level of aromatics, it's actually fairly underwhelming given the style. That said there is a faint note of vanilla cupcake that persuaded me to up the score.

The mouthfeel showcases a much more pronounced mineral presence than is typical for tripels (or Belgian ales on the whole for that matter). It's like calcium or magnesium or who knows what mineral gives an almost 'salty' and definitively chlorine-like tinge. It is awfully bare too and drinks with a coarse graininess and occasional hiccups of unchecked alcohol. Should be less 'raw' and offer more complexity.

Despite cereal notes of wheat and oat, the flavour procures a subtle banana cream-like taste and vague traces of vanilla. There is a slight grassiness and iron salts (or whatever mineral) that really impress on the palate as well. Also, an old book-like mustiness. This has nowhere near the ageworthy structure of the highest-rated brands nor does it pack the high-flying dynamics, but it's certainly very palatable.

Brouwerij Van Steenberge has a long history of underwhelming me and, indeed, Witches Brew is far from bewitching (sorry, I couldn't resist the pun). While it makes a perfectly serviceable strong golden ale, it doesn't touch Belgium's best tripels. The fact that similar, better beers can be more easily found at similar price points makes this hard to recommend, though fans of the style should be able to justify the pickup.

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

Spicy notes of cider, ginger and pepper greet my nose as I pour this into my 25cl tulip glass. The beer pours with a frothy, initially three-finger thick, pale, off-white colored head; the head leaves lots of lacing on the sides of my glass as it very slowly subsides. The beer is a nice copper hue as it sits on my desk but shows a clear, bright gold color when held up to the light. Other aromas of melon, star-fruit, herbal grass, sweet clove, white pepper, something a bit like spicy oak and a flinty, almost metallic white grape skin note. This has a very complex nose to it, a bit warm, perhaps even hot from some higher alcohols, but still interesting enough that I can let it slide that this is not the most integrated of aromas.

Wow, this is very well carbonated; despite resting in my glass for the last 15 minutes, my first sip of this just seems to vaporize into a sea of foam. After a quick de-gassing the beer stills has an ample, peppery, fizzy carbonation that really helps to cut through the viscous body that this beer has. Sweet, though not overly so, with flavors of honey-like grain, some ripe melon notes and a touch of not-quite perfectly ripe pear. Quite spicy too, the ample carbonation certainly accentuates this, but there are also notes of clove, a ginger bite, some hot alcohol all of which contribute to a slight tongue numbing character. A base, toasty / cracker-like, malt character that I like to find in these types of beers is not much noticeable here. A touch of hop bitterness in the finish mixes with some of the spicy notes that are noticeable.

As the beer warms up I realize that much of the perceived sweetness is actually contributed by the fruity esters and the higher alcohols. This does actually achieve the lightness in body that I like to see in strong beers of this type. Warming up also softens the overall impact of this beer, taming the heat from the alcohols in the finish and allowing a creamy, smooth finish to become more noticeable. An interesting beer, this is actually pretty tasty & I find that I am enjoying this more than I expected.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

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Photo of John_M
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle, the beer pours a darkish gold color, with a considerable, pillowy, fluffy white head. Head retention is pretty good as well, and there is considerable sticky lacing all around. The nose is pretty much your standard Belgian tripel, strong golden ale, with considerable honey, light coconut, canned peach and apricot. The beer smells as if it will be fairly sweet, strong, and spicey. Flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely, with the moderate sweetness nicely countered by some noticeable hoppy bitterness. The sweet tropical fruit wins out in the end, but there's enough hoppy bitterness to keep the beer from becoming heavy or cloying, and the bitterness dries out the sweetness pretty well on the finish. Mouthfeel is fairly full, with a long finish, and drinkability is good. While I'm aware this beer has some serious alcohol, it's not overwhelming and doesn't tire out the palate (too much).

While nothing out of this world, this is certainly another very solid beer from this talented Belgian brewery. Quite tasty...

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Photo of Zorro
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark golden colored beer with a tall white head. This is slightly chill hazed in the glass.

Spicy and fruity to the nose lots of pepper and peach and lesser rose petal. Fairly herbal to the nose.

Starts out dry herbal and spicy. There is quite a bit of warming in the chest though you can't actually taste any alcohol. Herbal on the tongue with a slight sour sensation like rose hip. Gets slightly sweeter as you drink it but this is dry and mostly herbal.

Mouthfeel is good.

Pretty tasty beer and worth the $13 I spent for it. Of course if I had realized that this is from the same people who make Gulden Draak I could have expected that.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.38/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a five+ finger cream head that fades very slowly, leaving a ton of lace. Nearly clear golden amber color. Serious carbonation and medium bodied. lemon yeast nose. Flavor is sweet, lemon, yeast and apple cider. Nice golden. High ABV is hidden. Brewed Mar 3, 2009. Pricey @ $11.99 for a 750ml bottle from Manchester Wine and Liquors Manchester, CT.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.79/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

750ml Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for $8

Appearance - Gold colour with a large size fizzy/frothy white head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for over 5 minutes.

Smell - Cloves, breads/grains, grapes, corn, a mustiness

Taste & Mouth - There is an above average amount of carbonation and I can taste breads/grains, cloves, and a musty grape flavour. There is also a corn flavour and a touch of vanilla.

Overall - Best before date is only a few months away, maybe the musty flavour isn't typical. Still a decent tripel just nothing mind blowing. It also has a touch of an adjunct type flavour to it. Not a repeat purchase for me.

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Photo of scruffwhor
2.62/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Pours a light hazed, golden cantaloupe and hay color. Thick head, but dissipates in only a few seconds. No foam or film o' foam and only a single column of bubbles rising to the top. The aroma is of sweet spring fruits, then freshly toasted malts, a little sweet bread, and some odd metallic scents. The taste starts fruity and malty sweet. Then the alcohol quickly takes a turn to the metallic and bloody. From the middle to the back of my palate, all I get is metal and blood. Then it softens up a little to a more cand sugar sweet white bread. Still not what I was expecting. This Witches' Brew certainly didn't put a spell on me.

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Photo of drpimento
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wellll... while a solid effort, not so different from the mainstream tasty Belgian golden/ tripel/ blond/ strong ales. I let the bottle warm some out of the fridge and then poured a colossal, off-white, extremely flothy, fluffy, wispy head that settled after a bit and some clingy lace. Color is a minisculey hazy amber with no bubble trails. Aroma is yeast, bread dough, crackers, hop, malt, white wine. Flavor's very similar to nose, but with vineous sweetness on top then bitter tang, followed by other stuff including apples, pears. Body and carbonation are good. Finish is similar to flavor, easy and of short to average length with little alcohol warmth. Nice beer to get comfortable with. Be great for a picnic or to cook with.

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Photo of champ103
3.48/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a cloudy golden/orange color. A large white head rises to over two fingers. The rocky foam has excellent retention, and rings of sticky lace are left on the glass.
S: Spicy aromas, yeast, and banana like esters. Simple, but enjoyable.
T: Follows the nose. A big spicy aroma up front with some yeast. Banana esters are dominate as well. Simple, and the flavor does not linger at all.
M/D: A medium body that is really effervescent. To much carbonation, and not nearly dry enough for me. Not hard to drink. I am having no problems finishing the 750ml bottle.

Not bad at all. I little simple and one dimensional, but still very enjoyable. A nice beer to share during a hot summer night.

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Witches' Brew from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
3.86 out of 5 based on 228 ratings.
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