Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal is a newer member of the Belgian brewing family, but one that has quickly made a splash with its innovation and quality. Situated in the Flanders, this small brewery is a true farmhouse ale. They grow their own ingredients: hops, barley, and adjuncts (if they’re using them). They do have their barley malted, but they handle their own hops.
Like many breweries, they have a Winter seasonal, which is simply labeled “Winter” with the year of the beer next to it. The beer and label change ever year. Winter 13 (released at the beginning of 2013) is the third incarnation of their seasonal Winter ale. This year’s beer is a fresh hopped beer using the brewery’s own hops. The label calls it: “A Wet-hopped Belgian Farmhouse Ale brewed with fresh hops from the Dormaal farm.”
Appearance: Hazy gold with amber highlights, off-white head, Great retention.
Aroma: Cloves, lemon zest, mossy and woodsy European hop character, spicy yeast.
Taste: Bubblegum, a bit of sweetness, lime, lemon, touch of pepper, crisp hop slice to the finish.
Overall Impression: This is a fun concept beer. It combines two of my favorite things, wet/fresh hop beers and Belgian yeast character. Both elements blend really well together, mostly due to the use of European hops. I did taste this one when it was fairly new in the market. I have seen some bottles around though, if your favorite shop has kept it refrigerated the entire time, I’d still pick it up. The best before date was October 2013. Usually, Best Before is used when people want to signify a small but noticeable quality change. It’s still probably tasting really good. I certainly enjoyed it and can’t wait for the Winter 14.
Availability: Dwindling on shelves and on freshness, buy it and consume it quickly if you see it. Imported by 12% Imports.
You can read more about Hof ten Dormaal, including my beer reviews, on my page dedicated to them.