Okay, the beer is not really 950 years old. But its namesake Abbey is. Affligem 950 Cuvee was a special beer released last year to celebrate the 950th anniversary of the Abbey of Affligem. The brewery, which is actually located in nearby Opwijk and now owned by Heineken, has only been around since the 1930s. However, who is to blame them for wanting to mark what is, in anyone’s books, a remarkable achievement.
The 950 Cuvee is not available in Alberta (I don’t think it is available in North America), so maybe it is a bit cruel of me to write about it, but I will anyway. A friend brought a single bottle with them from Belgium when they were home for Xmas. I tried it a few nights ago.
Most of you are familiar with Affligem Blonde, an interesting entry point into Abbey Beer. They also make harder-to-find dubbel and tripel. The call the 950 Cuvee a “Belgian Blond”, which seems right, but they also claim it is “quadruple-hopped” (sheesh!), making it special.
Meaningless marketing catch-phrases aside, I found it an interesting beer. It pours bright gold with a massive (and I mean “massive”) rocky white head. It is quite highly carbonated. I love the aroma – soft meadow flower, mead, light Belgian spicing, lavender, bergamot, touches of light grainy malt. Very enticing.
The beer begins quietly, with soft malt upfront, presenting gentle and lager-like. The middle has floral flavours, some lavender and a bit of soapiness. A moderate Belgian yeast character also builds. It is musty and barnyard, rather than spicy. The finish emphasizes that Belgian character, again earthy and funky. It is a drier beer than the aroma suggests; musty and earthy with a floral accent.
Overall it is a softer, earthier version of Affligem, from my memories of that beer. Hops don’t really present themselves in the beer in any significant way, suggesting the quadruple hop thing really is marketing hoo-ha. However, I am left with the niggling impression that they may have added other ingredients, such as lavender or other floral herbs. I just can’t see how they created that aroma without it. However, I can’t track down a confirmation of that, so I will leave it as speculation.
Not a bad beer. Not a world classic, but certainly enjoyable and noteworthy for its aroma alone. I do rather hope I am still around in 50 years to see what they come up with for the 1000 anniversary. Now that might be a beer to remember!