This Belgian beer along with Brasserie Lefèbvre - Blanche De Bruxelles, Florida Beer Company - Indian River Shoal Draft Pale Ale and Mad River Brewing Company - Steelhead Extra Stout were part of my April shipment from my Beer of the Month Club membership (one more month to go and my gift membership expires). I give them credit, because all the beers they have shipped are always interesting.
Belgian beers as a whole are always an experience to be either enjoyed or feared. I have found many that challenge the palate and De Koninck happened to one of those that force me to rethink beer. Not surprising given the fact Belgium hosts the most numerous and varied brewers in the world.
De Koninck was certainly an experience that really taxed and challenged my senses when I first tried it. I tried this before Blanche De Bruxelles and I think that made Blanche De Bruxelles go down easier.
I poured this beer two ways. The first time I poured about 2/3 of the bottle into the glass and what remained I swirled up and then topped off my glass. The second time I was careful and only poured in about 95% of the bottle so as not to disturb the sediment. I prefered the later and I certainly understand why Beer of the Month Club (BOMC) recommended that approach.
The first time I tried it the initial aroma hit me as vinegar and very sour. I had to let this beer sit and breathe. Once I came back to it, the aroma mellowed but the vinegar notes were still in my head and I continued to smell it. Suffice it to say I did not like it.
Well I still had three more bottles and was hesitant to get back to it. It took another two weeks before I got the nerve to try it again. When I finally did De Koninck was a completely different beer from what I remembered.
I suspect the first one was skunked or the BOMC pouring technique made that much of a difference. The remaining three bottles I tried I used their pouring technique. In any case, after experiencing the spoiled vinegar the first time, the last three bottles went down very well.
De Koninck poured a caramel-amber with little head.
The aroma conflicted between sweet and sour notes. After that first experience I could not detect the vinegar but there was a lingering sourness. I thought the aroma was nice compared to the first time I tried it.
The first thing that hit me about the flavor was the yeast and it initially gave the beer a Belgian wheat like quality. Soon after, the flavors mellowed and the complexity and craftsmanship of the beer was apparent. With each sip I was rewarded with a unique experience because of the depth of flavors and character in this beer. The base flavor was light caramel complimented by a host of subtle dark fruit notes. The nose of the beer had an unpeeled apple quality about it and finished with some sour cherry notes. There was a certain earthiness about the flavor that contrasted well with the caramel backbone of the drink enhanced with some light clove spices.
This lighter body beer was heavily carbonated and prickly on the tongue.
After that bad first experience I really enjoyed this beer. I cannot be sure if the first beer was skunked or if I unsettled the sediment because of how I poured it.
In any case I hope to find this and Brasserie Lefèbvre - Blanche De Bruxelles locally. These were both two very different but rewarding beers to try.