12/24/20: De Struise Brouwers' Tsjeeses (2012)

6:05 PM

Can you believe that Christmas is tomorrow? Seriously. Christmas--it's tomorrow. I still can't quite wrap my head around that. This year's been awful. Regardless, the holiday season's been good to me. Were I one to sit and count my blessings, I'd have a lot to be thankful for. 

Today I'm celebrating that with the oldest beer I've featured on the blog. This bottle's eight years old (that's as old as Purrl!). It's a Belgian Christmas beer (imported from Belgium by Shelton Brothers, Inc.). I have every reason to suspect that this'll be a decadent treat. Ho ho ho here we go.

De Struise Brouwers, "About" page here, is a company founded in 2001 that's built on five tenets: quality, creativity, sustainability, friendship, and innovation. That 2001 inception date is pretty out there to me--when I think of European breweries, I think of decades--centuries, even--of craftsmanship. The fact that four guys can come together and make a Christmas beer that carries an 89 rating on BeerAdvocate that can be (I hope) aged for nearly a decade is boggles my mind.

That beer, Tsjeeses, doesn't seem to be featured on Struise's website anymore (it's out of production), but, luckily, Untappd has us covered. Tsjeeses (pronounced "cheeses") is a 10% ABV blonde winter ale that's spent quite a while aging on stone fruits before being bottled. My bottle's label boasts notes of spice, fruit, noble hops, and herbs.

The ale's bouquet is really something: Bread dough, biscuits, honey, spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice), caramel, toffee, lemongrass, orange, and cherry. Wow. This is definitely a holiday beer. Purrl (again, she's as old as this bottle) likes the nose, too. She gave my bottle fifteen whiffs.

The caramel and toffee hit hard in the ale's flavor profile. The booze hits next (I'll note that the booze isn't present as an aromatic), followed by that bready, biscuity, honey quality. There's gobs of fruit here (oranges, cherry, some lemon) and a definite candied nut aspect. The alcohol and that Belgian yeast zing hang around in the deceptively long finish. I'll note quickly before moving on, though, that this is a light, easy-drinking ale. Sure, it has a lot going on in its flavor profile but that doesn't make it taste heavy (like a stout, for instance, or even a blonde stout).

After eight years of aging, my bottle's lost a bit of carbonation. However, it maintain's quite some bite still and is definitely an ale to the core. Only it's just that much more lush and robust, a mouthfeel befitting a big, warming beer like this.

What's your favorite Christmas special? Charlie Brown? Christmas Vacation? A Christmas Story? Olive, the Other Reindeer (a personal favorite of mine)? It doesn't even have to be a particularly Christmasy thing--how about the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movies? Now you might see what I'm getting at, here.

Do you watch that special with your family (or, have you in years passed)? If you were to put them on now, would you be transported to good times, with people you love, laughing away the long, cold winter nights and eating the delicious treats and other baked goods that they and/or you had created? That exact feeling is what I'm finding in each swig of Tsjeeses.

I have no idea how this beer tastes when it's fresh, but I can say that it's undoubtedly spectacular after eight years of aging. Tsjeeses is a 10/10 beer. If you find it and it's less than eight years old, please let me know what you think of it. This De Struise Brouwers offering's full of holiday spirit.

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