De Dolle Brouwers. I knew the name - I even knew the name of one their beers, Stille Nacht, but I'd come across neither before Oerbier showed up in the shop a couple of months ago.
Oerbier seems in fact to be something of a flagship brand for De Dolle, if the cheerful sliding Oerbier-man gif and NAT EN STRAF (wet and strong) tagline that introduces you to the brewers' website is anything to be believed.
Oerbier simply means 'original beer', representing as it does the first and signature brew of the house. It pours a red-tinted dark brown with a big beige head that produces a wonderful and enticing aroma; amidst the brown sugar, sweet cherry and blackberry there's a dappling of tart fruit, like a Rodebach Grand Cru but with the scales tipped dramatically back in favour of the rich malt and leaving only minimal traces of that sour wood. The first sip sticks much more closely to that richer, sweeter side of things with raisins, toffee, Christmas cake fruit and spiciness and sugary blackcurrant jam all playing it nice and quad-like, before just at the finish there is a ghost of this tart cherry lingering in the background. Lactobacillus is used to achieve this, according to the website which also proclaims the wonderful ageing opportunity this beer presents.
It's already beautiful now, but I'm inclined to agree.
See you in a few years, Oerbier.