Abbey Normal by BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

10365921_10102019956917110_1571724735164320888_nRating: 4.85/5

Abbey Normal by BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse is a 6.6% ABV Belgian Dubbel.

BJ’s Abbey Normal is a light brown ale with a sweet malty profile. The style is what the Belgians call Abbey Ale, molded after the famous ales brewed by Trappist Monks. BJ’s Abbey Normal is full-bodied and rich tasting, with a complex bouquet of fruit and spice derived from fermentation with an authentic Trappist yeast. Subtle aromas and flavors emerge as the beer warms up – caramel, plums, raisins, currants and figs. BJ’s Abbey Normal may not be brewed in an abbey but it sure tastes heavenly.

This ale is bottle-conditioned and flavorful enough to age in the bottle for several years. Like a fine wine, the balance of flavors will change over time. For optional aging, we recommend that you store BJ’s Abbey Normal at between 55 and 65°F. Or enjoy it now!

Since 2010, when I first really started exploring beers, BJ’s brewhouse was a central theme to explore different beer styles as well as different beers. Abbey Normal was one of the first Belgian style beers and it was damn good back then. I never realized until a recent visit with my brother and my friend Alex that they started releasing these beers in bottles. I definitely had to bring one home for review as they ran out of the tap. So if you happen to visit BJ’s, this maybe something to try that is out of the ordinary there. Unless they have Westmalle which is more expensive but way more awesome. Either way, this is a very good Belgian dubbel even pre-review.

Dark fruit raisins, plums, figs, dates, phenolic banana notes, clove spice, stone fruit apricots, peaches, apples biscuit bread, dulce de leche caramel, toffee, honey, rock candy, pecan hint, ginger bread, chocolate hints, cinnamon and hints of brown sugar.

Phenolic notes of bananas, clove spice, dulce de leche caramel, vanilla, dark fruit raisins, figs, plums, trappist yeast hints, rock candy, candi sugar, pecan notes, hazelnut hints, dark cherries, ginger bread, cinnamon, chocolate hints, coffee, nutmeg, biscuit bread, bubble gum and toffee.

Biscuit bread, rye, dulce de leche caramel hints, dark fruit and phenolic hints fade into a dry finish. No alcohol in the taste, medium drinkability, amber medium to full body, light to medium mouthfeel.

A very good Dubbel for sure despite this comes from restaurant & brewhouse chain. I love sweet Belgian beers so even at the ABV presented, this drinks like champ. It nice in terms of balance providing you a very nice rich complexity of flavors while still not being over powering. Wish I had this more often but now I realize why I loved this one so much back then. This one I would definitely recommend if you are able to get it at BJ’s on tap or snag a bottle from them to take home and relax.

Anime Corner:
Stocking Anarchy from Panty & Stocking with Ganterbelt was used in this pairing in relation to how awesome this beer was back in the day. At my youth of craft beers, this presented me with something very distinct that I had never had on tap and really drove me to try out more beers. Now, how it relates to the Abbeys, the monks and heaven, well guess what, Stocking, along with her sister Panty are angels fighting for humanity vanquishing ghosts. She is lover of sweets to the point where she should be diabetic but she is not. The colors of the label fit her perfectly and in respects to heaven, she is just that. The flavors of dark fruits and dark sweet flavors are basically her whole embodiment. She is a sweet dark Gothic angel with a lot of heart and power.


SeVIIn Anniversary Ale by Surly Brewing

972030_10101265131737820_1140015423_n 992784_10101265133803680_1906668729_n 970772_10101265137027220_1406577916_nRating: 5/5

SeVIIn Anniversary Ale by Surly Brewing is a 12.5%ABV Belgian Strong Ale brewed with Rye, Oats and Wheat.

Get Surly
Seven years! It seems not that long ago that I was delivering beer and Todd Haug was splitting a 30-barrel batch between kegs and cans. Now we’re planning a new brewery that will brew more beer in a week than we sold in our first year.
The idea behind our anniversary line-up of beers was to give Todd, Surly’s head brewer free rein to use whatever ingredients and methods he wanted to brew the beer. This year’s bottle artwork is a one-of-a-kind illustration collaboration between Todd and local artist Brent Schoonover. Here’s to Seven, and many more.
-Omar Ansari

Continuing our quest to despoil and desecrate conventional beer styles, we’re raiding Trappist traditions to produce this Belgian Style Ale brewed with Rye, Oats and Wheat. Our first beer EVER brewed with Wheat! Belgian yeast creates classic clove-spiced banana aroma and flavor. Dry hopping brings floral and citrus aromatics to the biscuity-smooth malt body.
-Todd Haug

So another year comes and this time Surly is trying to make mends by releasing their anniversary ale in the way of the Trappist monks. Ofcourse, Surly being Surly, always has a scheme. Though, Trappist ye may be, your colors and Soul can clearly be seen as tainted.

Aromas of this beer are like a Belgian Pale Ale but with Rye. Sweet bread, caramel, toffee, herbal hops, citrus oranges, candi sugar, wheat, rye, funky notes, peppercorns, honey, apples, floral notes and slight oakyness.

The flavors are of caramel, wheat, rye bread, honey, Oatmeal, candi sugar, dulce de leche caramel, orange, raisins, plums, bananas, apples, clove spice, peppercorns, herbal and floral hop notes, dried apricot marmalade on biscuit bread, pears and a small bit of wine grape notes. 

The alcohol can be noticeable but just a bit. It is not strong in the sense that it affects the flavors of the beer but only adds along the way to remind you, hey, this is a 12.5% ABV. The crazy part is that it still felt pretty drinkable to me. That is where you could fall into danger. Take this only in moderation and share with others. While it is a great and deliciously sweet, bitter and only tad funky, it will creep up fast and take over. You are dealing with sinister powers here. Their previous anniversary ales proved it. The conspiracy of the Trappist styles is hidden within the flavors of each sip. Is this an Evil beer? Well, you be the judge.

La Trappe Bockbier by Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven

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La Trappe Bockbier by Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven is a 7% ABV Trappist Bock

La Trappe Bockbier is a unique seasonal product, available from autumn onwards. the only Trappist bock and what is more, one that continues to ferment in the bottle. A beautiful deep red colour with a light, bitter aftertaste. 

It has been a very long time since I reviewed a beer from La Trappe. The last one I reviewed was their quadruple which was amazing. La Trappe being one of the 8 registered Trappist breweries in the world makes simply exquisite beers. According to Beer advocate, this is the best beer in its style. The Bock style was brewed in German Monasteries to pass the lenten fasts but some believe it was brewed during the month of Capricorn and so many Bock styles always have the goat association with it. It was used as a symbol of better times going from winters into the spring.

Aromas are of figs, raisins, dulce de leche caramel, toffee, hazelnuts, chocolate, brown sugar and rye bread.

Holy crap, you the flavors are borderline quad but with rich German malt aspects. Dark fruits like raisins, dates, dulce de leche caramel, rich toffee, banana, clove spice along with rye, pecans, hazelnut nectar, chocolate, raspberries, apricot, cinnamon and brown sugar.

This goes down very well. The mouth feel is rich even for a 7% ABV. Lots of malty sweetness, toffee and caramel in the aftertaste. This bock is very good. I think I liked it because of it s quad like elements. It is made by Trappist so you definitely cannot go wrong with this one. All I have to do now is find a 750ml of this.

Chimay Peres Trappistes Grand Reserve 2012 by Bières de Chimay

484273_10100936358691640_1190877036_nRating: 5/5

Chimay Peres Trappistes Grand Reserve 2012 by Bières de Chimay S.A. is a 10.0%ABV Belgian Strong Dark Trappist Ale. This is exactly the same as the Chimay Blue except for the fact that it has been aged and the ABV is 10% vs. the 9% of the Chimay Blue. I have already done the Review on the original Chimay Blue in the past: (

In 2012, the Chimay Trappist brewery will be celebrating its 150th birthday. To mark this occasion, the Chimay Grande Reserve (Chimay Blue Cap) will be adorned by a decoration inspired by its long term tradition.

No doubt in my mind, hands down, Belgian Trappist beers are just simply some of the best in the world. Some of them are Dark Belgian ales while some maybe quadruples. There is a major difference between them. While the some quads taste like Dark Belgian beers, not all Dark Belgian beers are quads (Trois Pistoles example with its port wine taste). Trappist beers, as far as I have had them though, are as close to a dessert made with candy sugar, caramel/dulce de leche bread, dark fruits like raisins, plums, figs and sometimes others like cherries, blackberries, and blue berries. Chimay brings it further by introducing hoppy flavors like those of a BPA (grass or earthy pine) but only to a minor level but detectable and enjoyable. The fragrance brings about somewhat hoppy and pilsner like smells but the real secret is in the flavor. As the beer sits close and closer to room temperature it brings about those richer candy,sweet bread, waffle cone, graham cracker, banana clove and spicy flavors. The difference between this and the regular is somewhat uncanny. I dig for some oaky or boozy flavors but they are very faint. If I sit this one next to the regular Chimay blue, I would find it hard to tell the difference. However, if you let it sit for a bit, you start to get some vanilla and possibly pecan flavor. By this time, the hops have faded away. Still, very awesome Belgian beer. I would choose the Chimay Blue since it is not as expensive though but your choice :). Bevmo has this for a limited time.