De Halve Maan Brewery
Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel
A few weeks back, I wrote about the day trip my wife and I took to Bruges, Belgium while on our honeymoon in Brussels, including our stop at the De Halve Maan, the only brewery still in operation in Bruges. I was incredibly impressed with their beer, including their 11% quad under their Straffe Hendrik label. While everyone rants and raves about Belgian quads such as Westvleteren 12 and Rochefort 10 – including myself – I found the Straffe Hendrik quad to be one of the best beers and Belgian quads I’ve had.
I figured the beer would be just a remnant of our honeymoon and something to look back and reminisce on. So I was floored when I turned a corner at a local beer store a couple of weeks back and, lo and behold, saw that man in the moon staring back at me.
Please excuse me while I wax poetic about this thing.
The appearance is a super deep plum red with a slight mahogany around the edges. There’s a massive foamy head on top that lasts for a long time. The lacing and alcohol legs are absolutely gorgeous
The nose on this thing is hugely sweet, with all the classic quad notes cranked up. The plums, raisins, toffee, caramel, dates, currants, molasses and so on are just epic. It smells so sweet and sweet, and just incredibly luscious.
The mouthfeel is foamy and there’s a good carbonation that scrubs on the palate. There’s a slight medium body mouthfeel. There just a very slight hop bitterness on the front and the flavors are gorgeous on the finish. The richness of the caramel is very strong. It’s mixed with those classic dark fruits – figs, plums, dates – with a very slight chocolate note. Slight bubblegum, slight cinnamon and spice, slight vanilla. It’s all there, and it’s phenomenal.
To me, this is a beer that belongs in the debate for the best quad in the world. Westy 12, Rochefort 10 and St. Bernardus Abt 12 are always brought up for debate, as they should. But the Straffe Hendrik quad is just as good – if not better – than any or all of those quads. It leans on the big flavorful side, but the richness is not overtly strong. And I’ll be damned if I could tell this was an 11% beer if I didn’t know going in.
If you ever happen to see the man in the moon glaring at you from a store shelf, grab it without thinking twice.