Stille Nacht (Silent Night) is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed for Christmas and for aging. De Dolle Brouwers (The Mad Brewers) took over an old brewery in 1980 and continue to use much of the traditional brewing equipment. Especially impressive is their 8 foot square and 18 inches deep cooling vat made of copper and open-air fermenting room. Natural yeast mixes in to give De Dolle beer an old style, slight irregular quality. Each batch is close, but not exactly the same!
Drinking a bottle of Stille Nacht on Christmas Eve is an old tradition of mine. Tonight’s bottle is from 2011.
Stille Nacht pours honey blonde with a white, tight foam head that doesn’t quit. The aroma is sweet with cherries, bananas, yeast and raisins. It tastes complex with notes of vanilla, ginger, cloves, sweet malts, some bitterness from hops. Raisins and apricots show up in the long finish. It has a medium mouthfeel with a lively carbonation (even after 2 years in the bottle). The 12% ABV warms you right up.
De Dolle has kept bottles of each batch of Stille Nacht and reports that all are holding up well to aging. There’s a special Reserva done every 5 years that is barrel aged in Bourdeaux oak barrels for 25 months. Checking the calendar, the 2015 release should be in the barrels right now. The anticipation is like that of, well, waiting for Christmas morning.
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