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The Hops: Duvel's Maredsous Brune 8


12 Oz. Curls

Ironically, a beer once brewed by celibate monks is an ideal beer for Valentines Day: Maredsous Brune 8.

Though it is now contract-brewed by Duvel, Maredsous Brune 8 is still a showcase of Benedictine abstinence. It is a dubbel that can be served in a tulip glass or chalice. The color is very deep brown. Three fingers of slightly tinted, thick head will settle to a thin lacing. It smells a little wine-like, but thankfully it is all beer with scents of yeast, caramel, toffee, fig, plum, apple, red grapes, brown sugar, spice and molasses. The taste is surprisingly dark and roasted with flavors of caramel, toffee, brown sugar and molasses. An earthy hop bite lingers on the cheeks and tongue after each sip and black pepper spice eventually emerges. The dark fruits, especially the red grape flavor, sneak in as the beer warms, but they are not as prominent as they are in the smell.

As excellent as it is, Maredsous Brune 8 has one downside: It can be really hard to find. So a very worthy (and widely available) substitute is Ommegang Abbey Ale. A dubbel brewed in Cooperstown, New York by Brewery Ommegang, it is ruddy, dark caramel brown and offers scents of caramel, toffee, a little chocolate, fig, plum, Granny Smith apple and a touch of molasses, all of which are tinged with an inviting brandy booziness. For the taste, the sweet fruits take a backseat to caramel, toffee, fig, plum, yeast and the brandy sharpness.

  • Serving temperature: Both should be served around 50º F.
  • Alcohol content: Maredsous Brune 8 clocks in at 8 percent ABV, while Ommegang Abbey Ale is 8.5 percent.
  • Food pairings: The Ommegang website offers a number of suggestions that can be used for both beers. “[S]avory dishes, meats, slow-cooked French dishes made with pork, lamb, rabbit, beef, carbonnades, hotchpot, marinated roasts, barbeque, rich cheeses, almost every dessert.”
  • Where to buy:John’s Grocery, Bread Garden Market, Liquor House and most area Hy-Vee stores.
  • Price: $3.49/bottle and $12.99/four-pack for Maredsous Brune 8; $2.70/bottle, $10/four-pack and $7/750 ml bottle for Ommegang Abbey Ale.

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