Fans of this blog know I really enjoy Goose Island’s beers, and my last special release from their brewery was probably Bourbon County Stout, a beer I absolutely love, so it is with no lack of excitement that I opened a 2008 bottle of Pere Jacques that I’ve had in the fridge forever.
Pere Jacques is a Belgian style “abbey ale,” generally thought of as a “dubbel.” Abbey ales are Belgian beers that are made in the style of the traditional Trappist ales of the Belgian monasteries, but since the brewing is not associated with the monks themselves, they are called “abbey” and not Trappist. It’s sort of the same idea that Champagne is the sparkling wine of the Champagne region of France, while similar sparkling wines are made throughout the world but aren’t technically called champagne.
In the abbey/Trappist styles, the Belgian golden ale is more or less the entry level beer. Dubbels are made with “twice as much” fermentable sugars, tripels with three times as many, quads with four… etc. Doubles and quads are usually darker amber beers while tripels and golden ales are golden and lighter in color. Doubles tend to pair well with food and, in some opinions, really need food to really shine. Because they are fairly strong and malty beers, dubbels tend to pair well with lots of foods, including roasts, grilled food, and even some spicy foods and desserts.
Pere Jacques pours a dark amber color with lots of big yeast bits floating in the beer. At 8% ABV it is no slouch in the alcohol department, and the aroma is that classic Belgian yeast earthiness with lots of caramel and some alcohol.
The flavors are definitely malt forward, bready, and some caramel with no hint of hops or bitterness. The beer has a nice mouthfeel, but I was left with a bit of a goober in the back of my throat from the sweetness, which wasn’t cloying, but was close. I detected some dark fruit early on in the flavor, too, like plums maybe? I think this would be a good beer with a cigar, actually.
Another winner from Goose Island, although for a couple bucks more for the bottle, I’d take Bourbon County anytime!