Abbey Beers · Bottled Beer

Abbaye de Vauclair

Lidl can be an exciting place.  You can pop in for your groceries and come out with a new shower, 6.5kg of serrano ham or a box of exciting beer.  We recently picked up a selection of French abbey beers from .

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These seem to be the latest exclusive monastery beers for Lidl/Aldi, brewed in Champignuelles (near Nancy) and named after a Cistercian Abbey in Vauclair (near reims).  These are about 200km apart – it’s not really an authentic set of beers.  Belgian styles brewed in France for a German supermarket and sold in the UK.  Regardless, Champignuelles has a brewing history and the abbey goes back to Bernard of Clairvaux, so I’ll give it some credit.

There are six beers in the pack – Blonde, Blanche, Ambrée, Triple, Brune and Rubis.  The scores on Untappd, ratebeer and the like are okay.  Not bad, but certainly not great.  It’s less than a pound a bottle – what do you expect?

On tasting them, this seems to be about right.  Blonde was dull, recognizable as a Belgian style blonde but utterly characterless.  Rubis was a over the top fruit beer – all fruit gums, sherbert and berry flavour nail varnish.  More Claire’s taste than mine.  The others were better but very one dimensional.  Blanche, a spicy but unexceptional wit.  Triple, deceptively strong but lacking the yeast character I was hoping for.  Brune, nice roasty malts but not much else.  The best of the lot was probably Ambrée – dark (surprisingly so – see the photo) and full of caramel.  It was the closest to having some sort of complexity.

With the exception of Rubis, they were enjoyable enough to drink but they just pale in comparison to better beers.  There’s not really much going on beyond the first taste.  Maybe I could go for this in a light and refreshing beer (I would probably have the wit again) but if I’m going to go for an 8.5% Tripel, I’d like something a bit special.  I don’t think we’ll be buying this one again.

P.S.  As a postscript to this Lidl does sell better beer, we enjoyed a box of Brouwerij Van Steenberge beers from there.  With Gulden Draak, Bornem and Piraat, it was a much more sound proposition.  I’d definitely recommend picking up that one.

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