Beer Review: Piraat

This week’s beer review is going to take a complete turn from the last one. Last time out we reviewed Steel Reserve 211 and it got some mixed reviews from the sample group that joined me with that one. Well, this time we will do a 180 and review a beer that will most likely never be found at Wal-Mart for 6 bucks a 12-pack, I’m very sad to report.

This time out we will be reviewing an imported beer from Belgium called Piraat. In the name of full disclosure, I need to admit that this beer is easily one of my favorite beers of all time. It has been a favorite for years so my review may be a bit biased. Piraat is what is referred to as an IPA or India Pale Ale. This form of beer came about in the 18th century when British brewers were ordered to produce a high alcohol/high hops beer to go aboard ships for long voyages. At this time water was near impossible to store for long voyages and beer was most often used to drink instead. (With the current water shortages I believe this practice should be started up again!) Anyway, this style of beer was used by both naval vessels and Pirates alike….hence the name Piraat. This form of beer is also referred to as a triple or tripel due to the use of up to three times the malt in the brewing process. This gives way to the eventual high alcohol content, in this instance, 10.5%. Along with the high alcohol content came a high hops content as well to act as a beer stabilizer on the long voyages. Piraat is referred to as a living beer since it is re-fermented in the bottle. This beer has what is referred to as a high food value which also made it popular on ships along with the alcohol content giving way to a pirate type attitude. I know… enough history. What about the beer?

Appearance: I poured it nice and slow into a Piraat tulip glass that provides for a drink that allows the smell to compliment the taste. It appears sort of golden and hazy with a slight amber color to it. The head is thick and white and can be extensive if poured quickly.

Smell: This beer actually smells both spicy and sort of sweet at the same time. The hops are present in the smell but beneath, a slight smell of fruit. This beer is meant to be served slightly warmer than traditional lagers and the smell and taste become more prominent as it warms.

Taste: Have to admit that the first time I tried Piraat, the very first sip seemed off to me. This very well may have been that it was so much different than the beer that I had just before it. Never being one to quit on a beer, I pushed on. As the beer rested and warmed, the flavors really came out which is why this beer is best enjoyed in a non-hurried drinking style. Piraat is complex with both hints of fruit and spice balanced in such a way to hide the high alcohol content. The further along you get, the more tastes come out. Each sip seemed to taste a bit different than the last until I had finished the 25.4oz bottle. By then I was hooked. This beer is one that I couldn’t wait to try again….and again.

Alcohol by volume: 10.5%

Cost:I’m not going to lie to you. It’s expensive. A 11.2 oz bottle, which will only tease you, costs about $3.50. The 25.4 oz runs around $10 a bottle.

Final Thought: If you have any pirate in you, or know you’re a fan of strong golden ale, then I would suggest you try it. This beer however isn’t for everyone and most likely not a tailgate beer for the masses. The strong ABV makes this a sipping beer that goes better with a nice dinner or advertised as a great after dinner beer with a cigar. (I haven’t tried that yet.) For me, this beer isn’t a Sunday morning kick off beer. Piraat is more of a Monday Night, fourth quarter celebration beer since our team is kicking butt and covering the spread. Piraat is available at specialty beer stores in 30 liter kegs, 11.2 oz bottles, 25.4 oz bottles, 1.5 liter magnums, and a Salamanazar 9 liter giant.