Beer Review: Piraat 9

April 2, 2011 at 20:26 (Beer)

A blonde strong pale ale, Piraat 9 is maybe one of the more familiar fancy Belgian ales.  And the label, of course, depicts a brigantine worthy of Captain Hook himself!

Its colour is a perfect yellowish gold, light and sunny. It formed two fingers’ widths of thick, milky white head in the glass.

The scent is crisp, and refreshing, with the hops readily detectable and an uncomplicated bready, biscuit-like smell too. You can even catch a hint of the aroma that one might expect from a wheat beer, banana and clove and such.

Tasting the beer really put a smile on my face, as there are several things going on at once here. It probably isn’t very informative to say that Piraat’s flavour profile is equal parts Belgian trippel, American IPA, and hefeweizen, but there you go. It’s funny – my preference for Belgian beers grew out of a desire for brews that refused to surrender all the limelight to the hops, and now here is a Belgian ale making me appreciate the lovely balancing work that hops can do. The beer greets the tongue with just a whisper of the candy-sugar sweetness familiar from a good trippel, but before you can even really think of it as tasting sweet, a very refreshing and simple bitterness rises up to balance it out. Quick on its heels is that quintessentially beery taste, with just the right amount of yeastiness and acidity. I am continually surprised, on each sip, that this beer wasn’t  brewed with any wheat, because the summery notes are impossible to miss. Piraat hides its 9% alcohol level quite well, its carbonation is almost champagne-like, and its after-taste strikes the right balance between being pleasant and encouraging you to take another sip so you can get back to that initial set of flavours. For these reasons, it is easy to drink lots of. I think it would pair really nicely with a lot of foods, too … I want to take it to a restaurant!

I’ve been pretty complimentary about this beer, but I suppose if I had to be critical, I would say that while Piraat 9 is pleasant and clearly crafted with true expertise, it does not do anything show-stopping; this brew plays it safe and doesn’t go out on any real ambitious limbs. As a result, the experience is absolutely solid and enjoyable, but no single part of it blows my socks clear off my feet. That is hardly something to hold against a beer, much less one so well-made as Piraat, but it does mean that my search for concoctions on the level of the previously reviewed Rochefort continues. Enough nitpicking, though. The bottom line is that this is an A-minus beer at worst, and I cannot imagine anyone finding it disagreeable or even forgettable.

Interestingly, according to BeerAdvocate, this is from the same brewery – Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. – that also makes Augustijn, Bornem, Breugel, and Gulden Draak. Okay, good, now I know where I need to make a beeline to when I finally visit Belgium.

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