My lovely girlfriend picked us up a bottle of Piraat from Beer Ritz a few weeks back. It was on sale (probably because it passes its sell-by date this week, not that that really matters) and looked very appealing. A nice 750ml bottle, caged and corked and advertised as the closest that beer gets to white wine (I can’t quite remember what Zak’s actual wording was, but it was something like that).
We were planning a Friday night in, with food, talking and perhaps a couple of episodes of ‘Mad Men’, so we decided to crack open the Piraat – brewed by Van Steenberge – and see what it was like.
It’s very much a sharing beer, see. It weighs in at 10.5% and even half a bottle comes in at just under 3.9 units, which means that if you drink it, you officially become a dangerous drinker and will definitely assault someone and cost the NHS money. Or something like that.
The cork pops pleasingly as I remove it and it pours an amazingly vivid amber/gold colour with a vicious white head. You can smell it before your nose even gets that close. It’s a proper yeast funkiness that hits you, spiced and citrussy.
It’s described by some as a blonde barley wine, and you can see why. It’s as strong as a wine, its blonde and it has that vicious punch that is synonymous with the barley wine. It tastes bloody good too. It’s dry, it’s refreshing, it packs a real yeasty flavour that’s associated with Belgian beers, with loads of other flavours bubbling away underneath.
You get a bit of cereal flavours – almost a little bit like cornflakes, even, then that powerful punch from the level of alcohol. You stick on top of that some more wine-ish notes – grapes, lemon, orange, followed by more spice from the yeast. The finish even throws in some dried fruits, just as a pleasing farewell.
I’ll be popping open another one of these next time I’ve got an evening of beer sharing planned.