Carrying on with our string of Daisen G seasonals, today we have the Daisen G Dubbel, and along with it the very well-regarded St. Bernardus Prior 8.
Daisen G Dubbel (大山Gビール・デュッベル)
Package: 330mL bottle
Misc: IBU – 35
Pour – Murky dark nutty red-brown, not too much foam but good lacing
Aroma – Very soft roast and spicy plum, nuts, a lot more plum and cherry as it opens up
Flavor – Quite nutty at first, moderate bitterness in the middle, lots of cherry, finish is very spicy with plum, alcohol warmth, more fruit as it warms up
Daisen G have been doing quite well lately with their Belgian-style seasonals (such as their excellent Grand Saison and solid Belgian IPA), so I was pretty excited to see they had brewed an abbey dubbel. Actually, this was their first ever crack at a Belgian dubbel, and in addition to that their first usage of the Barbe Rouge hop. This new hop was developed by the Comptoir Agricole farm cooperative in Alsace, France, a region more known for its white wines than its beer. The Barbe Rouge hop indeed is supposed to have strawberry and cherry notes, so its not a surprise that this hop would come from wine country. Let’s see how this plays out in the beer.
The Daisen G Dubbel is a very very nicely done beer, and certainly one of the best from Daisen G (high praise indeed!). I really enjoyed the combination of bitter and nuttiness, and it had a healthy dose of fruitiness as well. I also really appreciated how the fruitiness asserted itself more as it warmed up, but it still didn’t lose its roast or nuttiness. Of course, this level of nuttiness and roast is somewhat unusual in a dubbel, but it worked really well, and again I’d say that this is one the best beers they’ve ever brewed.
It’s long gone now, but I bought mine at Tanakaya for 648 yen. I’m actually looking to find some Daisen G regular beers, which are surprisingly hard to track down, but of late Tanakaya have been stocking pretty much all of the Daisen G seasonals. This is a great beer, so if you do happen to come across definitely give it a try.
St. Bernardus Prior 8
Package: 330mL bottle
Pour – Fizzy, deep brown, cloudy
Aroma – Very rich, sugary yeast, plum, dirty hops
Flavor – Surprisingly earthy and bitter, finish also has lots of earthy hops to go with the plum, gets very nutty as it warms up
When it comes to abbey beers, as we mentioned in our review of their St. Bernardus Wit a while ago St. Bernardus has quite an interesting pedigree. They essentially were the contract brewer for the legendary Westvleteren monastery, and now release the same beers under their own brand. So that, certainly bodes well for this Prior 8 dubbel, which follows the original Westvleteren recipe, and also uses Westvleteren yeast.
The St. Bernardus Prior 8 is also a pretty great beer, although different in characteristic to the Daisen G. The Prior 8 has a lot of earthy bitterness to it, which was quite unexpected, but also had a lot of other things going on. There was oak, and good nuttiness and some plum but ultimately it was a wee bit heavy on the earthy hops – maybe it could use a but of time to mature. I would have actually liked to see more fruit and roast aspects, but overall of course, this is a good beer.
When it comes to choosing between the two, though, call it heresy but I dare say the Daisen G was actually better. The Daisen G had tremendous balance between the fruits, spice, bitterness, and nuttiness, and while the St. Bernardus also shared those flavor elements it tipped a bit towards the earthy bitter side at the expense of the others. This is a somewhat shocking result, given the formidable reputation of St. Bernardus – in fact, the Prior 8 is the highest-rated abbey dubbel on RateBeer! So perhaps you may question my taste buds, but I really liked the Daisen G Dubbel, and I stand by my assertion that it’s better than the St. Bernardus Prior 8.
Of course, don’t let that stop you from trying the St. Bernardus – mine was purchased at Tanakaya, and I’ve also seen it at Tokyo Liquor Land. You can’t go wrong with either of today’s picks, and it certainly was refreshing to see a local Belgian-style beer done so well. Here’s hoping all future tastings are as good as this one!