Michael Heniff's picture

Judge's Review: 90 Rating - Ale Gâteau Forêt-Noire by Unibroue

November, 2018
Judges Rating: 
21 / 24
6 / 6
36 / 40
10 / 10
Overall Impression: 
17 / 20

Ale Gâteau Forêt-Noire by Unibroue is a Belgian Dark Strong Ale with fruit and spices and is being judged as a Fruit and Spice Beer (category 29B in the 2015 BJCP Beer Style Guidelines). Belgian Dark Strong Ales are deceptively strong dark beers that have a harmony of rich malt, fruity esters and peppery phenolics. Fruit and Spice Beers should have an even harmony between the fruit, spices, and the base beer style. Unibroue Ale Gâteau Forêt-Noire (literally translated as "Black Forest Cake Ale") is Unibroue's 25th anniversary beer.  Ale Gâteau Forêt-Noire measures in at 10.5% abv and was brewed with spices and tart cherry juice.

This beer pours a very dark brown, clear, with a huge mousse-like brown head. The initial aroma is tart cherry fruit that melds with bready malt and a lighter nondescript spice. The flavor is prominent bready malt with a contrast of sour cherry fruit. Esters of prunes and raisins marry the malt and fruit flavors.  The light tartness from the cherry juice contrasts the slightly sweet, lightly bitter dark ale. The spice becomes most prominent late in the finish along with a lingering sour cherry. 

The tart cherry juice is very well displayed against the Belgian Dark Strong Ale backdrop. The base beer lacks complexity for what is typically a multi-dimensional style. Regardless, the tart cherry juice and spices add an intriguing contrast that works well in this deceptively strong example. À votre santé!