Nat & Straf (wet and strong) the label proudly proclaims. All beers are wet – but not all are strong! Perhaps the wet is there to separate it out from other strong ales. Or maybe it’s fitting for a brewery that calls itself mad and has an alien looking creature with a glass of beer and a brewers fork on its labels.
In 1980 two brothers took their student home brewing to another level; they purchased a defunct family brewery in Esen, West Flanders and expanded their previous five gallon batches into a commercial brew. Oerbier had arrived and the brewery had a new name and new philosophy: De Dolle Brouwers (the mad brewers).
According to the brewery, six types of malt are used together with Poperinge Golding hop flowers and a special yeast which develops a tartness and allows a vinous quality to develop with aging. A good start for a strong dark ale.
The beer seemed to be as impatient to get out of the bottle as I was to try it, giving a good light tan head atop the inviting dark brown. The aroma was malt and grain with a sweet mustiness, later a minty herb.
Typical dark beer tastes at first; bitter chocolate, sweet licorice, tobacco dryness. A slight fruit sour note and again the herbal, minty, element from the hop flowers blended in to give the promised almost vinous effect, which was certainly enhanced by the 9.0% alc. Vol.
A very good beer to savour alone or with some strong tangy blue cheese.
Buy it if you can and enjoy it.