Hof Ten Dormaal is an interesting brewery, to say the least. They call themselves a “farmhouse” brewery, and they mean it in the strictest sense of the word. They grow their own barley and hops; heat the brewhouse on rapeseed oil produced from their land, and draw water from their well. The only thing used in the production that isn’t produced from their own land is the yeast. They purchase that from elsewhere.
I contacted the brewery because I was curious how they processed their hops and barley. According to their prompt reply, they send their barley to be malted at Dingemans Malt, which is one of Belgium’s major malt houses. You’ll even see Dingeman’s malts in many US craft beers. Their hops, they process themselves.
I have had several of their beers and have been impressed with their character and quality. That coupled with their unique “farmhouse brewery” approach makes them a brewery that I’m going to visit on my next trip to Belgium. This is their Donker or Dark ale.
Appearance: Amber/brown with a tan head and good retention.
Aroma: Banana, caramel, brown sugar, brandy, cinnamon.
Taste: Chocolate, toasty malt, spicy finish.
Overall Impression: This is a really nice Belgian Dark ale. It has just a touch of rustic nature to it that adds a nice bit of added character to this farmhouse brown ale. The yeast character is well expressed but still allows the malt to play its part. If nothing else, this beer would be worth seeking out as it’s a nearly self-sustainable brewery producing its own inputs. Fortunately, its also a really great Belgian ale.
Availability: This small brewery is imported into the US by 12% Imports. Check your local bottle shop to see if they deal with a distributor that works with this importer.
7.5% ABV (according to the label, their website says 8.5% ABV)