The Abbot's Ale House remains a reliable supplier of De Struise wares and a while back I decided to consolidate my new-found love for Flemish red'brown ales with the help of Ypres Reserva 2011 (bottled 2014).
Ypres Reserva pours a brown-tinged black with an off-white head and oozes aromatics of leather, sour red fruit, balsamic vinegar and old wood. Straight away the drinker is being told that this beer is not messing around; it aims to misbehave and you better be prepared for some sour goings-on. With time this initial sour, acidic whack on the nose is softened to earthy forest floor and eventually even cocoa and almond - dense and complex to put it simply. To put it less simply it evolves by the second, now firing off shots of woodsmoke, maple syrup, and toffee, all veined with this bloody sour sting and we haven't even tasted it yet.
When we do we learn that yes, it is very very sour. The acid attack is strongest at the very front almost to induce an initial shock but it quickly fades from the second sip onwards. There's none of the thick, chewy chocolatey stuff I thought I sniffed suggestions of earlier on - this is all lithe and limber macerated red fruit, soured and tarted up, with strips of tannic, drying wood mopping it up some at the finish. Thankfully it still leaves plenty of that sour, mildly sweet and rich quad-like fruit lingering for ages - think of sour cherries and grapes and raisiny fruitcake all playing their part to make it refreshing, invigorating and warming all at once.
This is a superb beer. The aroma is complex and while the taste is perhaps less so, every time you dive into the glass it feels new, fresh and exciting and constantly mouth-watering.
Truly wonderful stuff.