Brussels is well known for comics so I couldn’t resist this one: Taras Boulba. The label depicts a a man at a fairground about to crush a very frightened man on the ground with a barrel. The one word in the agressor’s balloon: “Smeirlap!”.
I immediately wanted to know what it meant. It comes from the Dutch word smeerlap, which has a number of meanings, the politest of which is scoundrel.
The story behind the cartoon is a Flemish version of a Gogol tale where the son of a Russian Protestant marries a Polish Catholic. In our case the roles are taken by a Flemish man and a Wallonian girl. Taras Boulba, the agressor, is the father in both cases.
A top score for the label and the story behind it, but what about the beer?
The Brasserie de la Senne has been been based in Brussels since the December 2010. But the real start was seven years earlier when the two co-founders, Yvan De Baets and Bernard Leboucq, started brewing commercially. Five regular and three seasonal beers, together with collaboration and experimental beers are now produced.
The website informed me that Taras Boulba is a light blonde with 4.5% alc. It poured a hazy gold with a foamy, medium retention head. Fom the looks it could be a strong pale ale.
The aroma was not intense; some bready yeast, a little spice and light malt and a flowery herbal element. The initial taste was bitter. Not surprising as the label states ‘extra hoppy ale’.
Get over the bitterness and there’s a citrus tang and a light maltiness. The carbonation is medium and the body low to medium. The follow through is bitter, crisp dry and with a hint of malt.
An excellent,refreshing, beer which proves good Belgian beers don’t have to be strong in alcohol.
If you don’t fancy the 6.2% alc. vol of De Ranke XX bitter then go for this as an alternative; you won’t be disappointed.