A sweet little blond Belgian
Interbrew is buying every brewery on the planet, or so it seems. Boon or blessing, everyone whines about this and feels the huge company has ruined all their favorite beers. Well, maybe. The truth is we just wouldn’t have had an opportunity to even sample some of these beers if not for them making these products more accessible worldwide. So I’m not going to knock them. Much. Maybe the quality has slipped a hair by being massed produced, but, they are generally still far superior to the popular swills in America where barely a token nod is given to taste.
Leffe blond ale is one such beer, now brewed by the massive evil conglomerate, rather than the sweet little Nobertine monks that lovingly toiled away on the original. Was it better before? Probably, but I’ve no idea. Leffe blond was an Abbey style Belgian ale. It still is. But this is a beer that got its reputation from quality rather than clever marketing. It may need a bit more marketing to keep that reputation, though. The quality is lacking.
It starts out well and proper. A big, fluffy white head that holds. A deep golden, nearly amber color. But, the aroma is nearly nonexistent. A little malt, a little yeast, but you really have to go looking for the smell. Quite a bit of carbonation gurgles along considering this is an ale. The first big disappointment is the clarity. It doesn’t have that cloudy yeast appearance, and is just about clear. Cleaned up for the masses that might be more put off by sediment than less depth of flavor? Only Interbrew knows for sure. But, all in all, it generally looks the part of a fine European beer.
The taste is very sweet. Some sour yeast and spicy fruits predominate, especially pears soaked in cloves and pepper. The honey malt tries to balance things, but it produces an almost syrupy feel despite the thin body. The alcohol tingles, and it seems like it’s packing a bit more punch than the 6.6% claimed. The finish is nice and dry, though, with the hops finally showing up at the end. But it does linger. Leffe has a very long aftertaste, and not an entirely pleasant one.
It tastes and smells like Bazooka bubble gum. Do we want a beer that costs upwards of $9 a six pack to remind us of cheap candy? Personally, no. It’s just too sweet to pound. I can’t imagine wanting more than one of these in a sitting. I also don’t know that I’d have a meal with this beer. One could plausibly be a decent finish after a huge dinner, but I can’t see it complimenting much of anything. Actually, its unique sweetness might make it an interesting beer to cook with, if not for the price.
Leffe blond is a little more complex than most beers in the aisle -- even in the import aisle. If you want to discuss it, and analyze it with a mate, it’s a good beer to start with. There are plenty that will be even more complicated, that would best be saved for later. Belgium makes fabulous beer. Maybe Leffe blond used to be fabulous. For me, the bottom line is I don’t like bubblegummy beer. For half the price you could get a six pack of Bud and drink it while chewing a wad of Bazooka. Or opt for a different Belgian.