BROUWERIJ RODENBURG BRONCKHORSTER SCROOGE
As it's the festive season let's have a look at a Christmas themed beer. As you can see the jolly chap on the label hasn't really got into the Christmas spirit but I think he'd be smiling after a glass of this.
I've already talked about Brouwerij Rodenburg and, in my opinion, it's certainly one of the stars of the Dutch beer scene. The owner-brewer is Yorkshireman Steve Gammage who has been in the Netherlands for about 30 years and his beers are increasingly confident and successful.
So, on to Scrooge. Tim Skelton's Beer in the Netherlands describes this as "a seriously full-on dark Christmas ale that is a classic in the making". He's not wrong. There's a complex grain bill including Pils, Carapils, Diastatic malt, Cara Red, Whiskey and Peated malts (or so the label tells us). These contribute to the spicy nose which is also slightly medicinal like thick old-fashioned cough syrup. Beyond that there are very complex flavour notes in there - wafts of spice, peat, smoke and rich Christmas cake jockey for attention in a very appealing way.
This could be a cloying malt-fest but it's not because the cavalry arrives in the form of a crisply bitter finish. The hops are Green Bullet, Phoenix and First Gold and bring rather more to this beer than the label's claimed three bitterness units would suggest (given both the hop grist and the notably bitter finish I suspect this must be a misprint). Indeed the thought occurred to me that if I was brewing in a railway arch in London I might be tempted to call this a "Christmas IPA".
I'm back in the Netherlands in three weeks time (for this) and I'll certainly be looking out for a couple of these to bring home.