A visit to the small brewery in Falmignoul near Dinant ought to be interesting to any beer lover; brewing here dates back to 1776 and the present owners, Brasserie Caracole (since 1992) still use the traditional copper kettle and wood fire.
Obviously such a rarity is not enough to sell the beer in bottles, so Caracole have gone the way of many small brewers and have a catching, if curious, label to distinguish their beer amonst hundreds of others on the shelves.
The label of the Ambree shows a strange snail standing erect in front of a candle. Why a snail, you may well ask; Dinant is in the province of Namur and the people there are branded as being slow moving.
Apart from the snail there’s also a man’s head (presumably from Namur) with a snail helmet The word caracol is Spanish for snail; its origins in Belgium could be linked to its use in 17th century French to describe a half turn by horse and rider or have come directly from the Spanish via the Habsburg link with Spain which lasted nearly 200 years.
Whatever, once again I bought a beer partly for its label, but also due to the traditional method of production.
The beer is amber orange in colour with a frothy white, fairly quickly receding head. The aroma showed a lot of what was to come; a sweetish mustiness together with spice, yeast and a vague fruitiness. A slight sour note came in the taste and, together with clove and mint tastes mixed in with a slight herbal hop bitterness, went someway to counter the burgeoning sweetness.
What spoiled things for me was the thinnish body feel, accentuated by too much carbonation and the lack of a malt backbone. The finish was predominantly barley sugar sweet and the alcohol (7.5% vol.) was way back.
Maybe it would have tasted better in the environment of the traditional brewery; pay a visit and decide for yourself.
Happy beer drinking!