Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Affligem Noël 2009 Christmas Ale

Beer: 2009 Noël Christmas Ale
Brewed by: Affligem Brewerij, Odwijk, Belgium
Bottle: 750 ml Champagne bottle
ABV: 9%
Served in: Belgian chalice
Place of purchase: Whole Foods Supermarket
Price: $6.49 (on sale!)

As the holidays rapidly approach us (I believe that tonight is the sixth day of Hannukah; Christmas is 9 days away; Kwanzaa 10 days away and throw in any other Winter holiday you want), Mugsy & Jugsy find ourselves craving the seasonal brews. Just thinking about those Winter brews, with their Winter spices & high ABV's make us ready to curl up close to a not-so-roaring gas fire & exchange gifts & kisses. For the next few reviews, we, Mugsy & Jugsy will find ourselves, just as we have for the past 3 years, under the glow of our pink Christmas tree drinking good beer.

(You read it right. We have a lovely little, PINK Christmas tree. With black ornaments. We are fashion-forward. When everyone else starts buying pink Christmas trees, just remember who started the fad, okay?) On to our first Winter beer review...!

In every proper review, your trusted husband & wife team of Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.

Affligem Noël


Mugsy: Dark brown with deep bronze tones when held to light. Lots of carbonation visible when held to light. Fairly thick, foamy head that seems like it would last well past the holidays. Lots of creamy lacing left on the glass.
Jugsy: Thick, frothy head which flattens slightly but does not disappear. Color is dark copper with gold, red and brown hues. Mild carbonation bubbles are visible.


Very difficult to detect in the Belgian chalice glass, however when Jugsy & I poured some in to a tulip glass, the aroma became much more pronounced. Yet, still, the aroma doesn't give itself up easily. First off, a fair bit of funky yeast. This is followed by strong scents of holiday spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
Jugsy: Yeast and malt right at the top, followed by a spicier scent. Smells a little like bread, but not sourdough - more like sweet bread, maybe even a faint hint of fruitcake. Vanilla, pecans and dried cherries, (possibly some dried orange, too) with a touch of allspice and nutmeg. Smells like a Christmas cookie! (Note: for best smell, drink from a tulip glass - it makes all the difference!)


Very subtle spiciness (again nutmeg) combined with robust malt and slightly bitter hops. Very sweet aftertaste, maybe of honey and raisins combined with that of a little bit of alcohol.
Jugsy: Don't be fooled by the sweet smell. This is a dark and bitter beer. Roasted malts are the predominant flavor, followed by a citrusy grapefruit taste. There's a spice in there I didn't smell... cloves, perhaps? Definitely a sour yeast flavor as well. The aftertaste does carry a sweet bread flavor, though!


Incredible! I don't think I've ever had a beer this smooth & creamy. It's almost like egg nog! While it goes down a just a little watery, I still can't say enough about the creaminess. Almost like drinking an ale mixed with Irish cream liqueur. Wow!
Jugsy: Moderately creamy. Goes down very smoothly. Despite its complex flavors, the beer feels light. Carbonation and spices combine to create an unmistakable bite. Leaves a bitter, yeasty coating on the tongue.


While the sweetness & creaminess would lend itself to wanting to drink this all night in front of the X-mas tree, the 9% ABV says otherwise. Mind you, I haven't eaten in a good 6 hours, but after just half a glass, I'm REALLY in the holiday spirit! This one should be handled carefully.
Jugsy: I would say that the Affligem Noël is a very drinkable Winter brew. At 9% ABV, it most certainly is not a session beer, unless your "session"involves getting toasty with a loved one, at home in front of the fireplace. Luckily, that happens to be exactly my definition!


If Jugsy ever turned to me & said, "You know, Mugsy, I'd love to drink a glass of cinnamon raisin bread!", I'd break out the Affligem Noël Christmas Ale. For such a strong, dark ale, this beer is suprisingly delicate. This would go well with holiday treats like fruitcakes (even the Jerky Boys kind) and other sweets. Perfect for tree-trimming parties, Hannukah parties, Kwanzaa parties and "it's too cold outside, let's get warm by drinking beer" parties. Would definitely buy again. Hope the holidays are extended this year.
Jugsy: This is one of those beers that I know is good. I can smell, taste and feel the quality of both the ingredients as well as the craft that went into making it. Unfortunately, it doesn't hit my personal favorite palate notes, so it's still a little difficult to get very enthusiastic. The Noël is a wonderfully complex, yet light tasting Ale with the requisite high ABV we've come to expect of our Belgians. I be this would go amazingly well with Grandma's fruitcake! 'Wish I had some now!

Mugsy: 8.70

Jugsy: 7


  1. When you say " Leaves a bitter, yeasty coating on the tongue."- it causes me to beer world yeasty is good, yes? But, somehow I can't get behind that word! Nonetheless, I want to drink a glass of cinnamon raisin bread! Sounds so yums.....mmmmmm

  2. I'm not all that sure that "yeasty" is good (or bad, for that matter!) It's simply a matter of preference. Personally, I enjoy a hoppy coating! Words like "yeasty" or "funky" or Mugsy's favorite "barnyard funk" are meant to convey a very specific flavor or scent... not always conventionally pleasant! For example, I used to describe things as "tastes like beer in a used ash tray" and now I say, "smoky" and "spicy" - much more pleasant, don't you think? ;-)

    Love your comments, Erin!!

  3. I want to drink this, I wanna, I wanna....

  4. And I do love the tree. Retro and fashion-forward at the same time!

  5. Tommy:
    I found this to be a light and delicate dark ale lacking in pretention and boasting in sophistication. Overall a fine breakfast beer!

    Bart: This ale has quite a wonerful and delicate taste and aroma, much like Mugsy after a long day on the road!

  6. Thanks for your fashion stamp-of-approval, Ara! It means a lot coming from you!

    Happy Holidays to you, too, Adelaine! Stay warm!!!

    And thank you Tommy and Bart for your insightful - yet provocatively familiar - commentary!

    Keep the comments coming! We LOVE reading them!