Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews


Brouwerij Van Steenberge

Style: Belgian Strong Ale
ABV: 8%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

It’s week … um  … three! of International Month here at, so let’s not fuck around and just get into this thing.

For those of you faithful readers out there (ha!), you already know that I think one of the last great world styles American craft brewers haven’t fully mastered yet is what’s called the Belgian strong golden ale, sometimes used interchangeably with the abbey tripel (or triple or trippel or some other variant). These are some of the most technically challenging—and, without question, the best tasting—beers in the world, like Duvel, Tripel Karmeliet, and Westmalle Tripel. In fact, the only Midwest brewery that I’ve found to come even close to matching the Belgian masters is Madison, Wisconsins’s Ale Asylum Tripel Nova. Which makes it all the more amazing to think that it seems like every other Belgian brewery kicks out a strong golden/tripel ale as if it’s a run-of-the-mill pale ale every brewpub stateside features in their lineup. Like tonight’s featured brew, Atomium from Brouwerij Van Steenberge, which proudly proclaims itself as the only operational brewery in Meetjesland, which means, in Flemish, “land of old women.” I didn’t make that up.

Atomium cascades from the bottle a vibrant golden straw color, with a HUGE, pillowy head—like most Belgians, purposely highly carbonated for a striking pour. The nose is just as impressive, with spicy herbals mixing with lemongrass and oranges, over top some light bready malt. Enticing and complex.

The sip doesn’t disappoint, starting with effervescence dancing along sweet, cracker-like malt, all folding into a deliciously bright, citrusy middle. The finish is crisp and peppery, with a little bit of lingering maltiness taking the edge off.

Like I said, it’s pretty amazing how many perfectly executed, subtly complex beers come out of Belgium, and Atomium isn’t an exception. This one’s got a little more meat than some strong goldens/tripels, but is still refreshing and shockingly light for its eight percent ABV. Although the label copy claims it’s “matured in the bottle,” I don’t see any evidence of bottle-conditioning. Nevertheless, this is one awesome brew. It was a full eight dollars cheaper than the $20 (gleep!) four-pack of Tripel Karmeliet in the beer shop nearest me, which is a bona fide steal considering how good this beer is. If you see some, pick it up and stash it in the beer fridge to drink on a special occasion—like days that end in Y.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on February 17, 2014.
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