St Stefanus Blonde: Watch that head go!
Like Audrey Hepburn or Jean-Claude Van Damme, the St Stefanus Blonde is a Belgian legend. The monks of Sint Stefanus have been making beer since 1295 and I’m sure this would have provided a challenge at a silent monks’ feast. The St Stefanus is an end-to-end, high class product. The personal signature of the brewer on the bottle alongside the date of release is a nice touch, as are the distinctive bulbous 33cl bottle or the champagne-style 75cl vessel which I was sent by its PR team (thanks, guys).
The St Stefanus Blonde is bottle fermented so one needs to handle with care and let it settle. I sat mine down for a while, took the wiry mesh off the top and left the room to get my camera. There was a ‘bang!’ and I returned in haste to find that the cork had shot out! I didn’t lose too much, luckily, and it was time to tuck into the beer itself.
Tasting notes: St Stefanus Blonde
There’s a rich marmalade colour to it and one of the liveliest two-finger heads on the planet (especially after the eruption). In the nose you can make out orange peel and the presence of the three yeasts that St Stefanus uses, although for me that was a very clove-like on the nose. It’s got a typically sweet Belgian beer nose and nice lacing too.
The bottle fermentation enables the drinker to choose whether s/he wants to drink its young as a fresh and fruity ensemble or later on when the aromas develop. I got somewhere in between with it having been bottled in January 2012 and best before around February 2013. I found it crisp, tangy and creamy, which I wasn’t expecting, mostly malt, spiced fruits and a little banana. I thought it would be sharper but not at all complaining.
Nice touch: the brewer’s note on the St Stefanus Blonde
Strangely, I have actually done a St Stefanus beer review (albeit briefly) before at De Hems Dutch bar in London, although my friend Gary describes it as “gassy, but in a good way”.
Would be great at Christmas, although I found it very filling/sickly after 40cl or so…
Look: Deep marmalade (without the bits), zesty head
Smell: Orange peel, cloves
Taste: Crisp yet creamy, malty with a little spiced fruit.
The verdict: Top marks for presentation, interesting character but a little sweet on the palate for me.