The driftwood effect
Posted on 7/8/2012 at 1:19 PM EST (317 days ago)
1 Member Rating | Fair Overall | 6/10 Appearance | 5/10 Aroma | 6/10 Mouthfeel | 6/10 Flavor
So here's a question for you. Let's say you were in the middle of the ocean, living it up on a glorious cruise ship, having the time of your life. Things are great and you don't have a care in the world. All of a sudden, without warning, the ship starts to sink. Before you know it, you are in the water and there is no land in sight. What do you do? Do you wait for a 200 ft yacht to come by and scoop you up so you can continue your ocean adventure, or do you scratch and claw for anything that floats in order to keep yourself from an untimely demise? In the better beer world we are often faced with a somewhat parallel situation. What happens when you need a quick beer grab and you are faced with the grocery store option? In most cases, the yacht option of gold standard breweries just isn't going to happen. More than likely, you are going to be faced with shelves full of varying levels of driftwood and debris. When you are in this unenviable position, a readily available, half inflated life raft that might give you a fighting chance can be found in the form of the Leffe Blonde by Abbaye de Leffe S.A.
Let me start by saying, get a glass. If you try to drink it from a bottle, you will never make it. When first opened, it has an amazingly funky/beer gone bad smell. Trust me when I say it does get better. When you pour it, give it a good minute or two to breathe, and then you can begin the examination. In the glass it has a golden bronze coloration, and carries a bright and fluffy white head with some fair retention qualities. After the few moments of breathing time, you can go ahead and take a few whiffs of it. There isn't much that is going to blow you away here, but some standard aromas of bubblegum, clove, banana, pepper, and alcohol are pretty easy to pick out. Other than that and a faint hint of a weak biscuit malt layer, there are only very random moments where any other smells are even noticeable, and none which are worth digging for.
When you take the first sip, don't be surprised if you think ''Oh. Ok. It's not amazing, but I can make due with it for now''. It has all the characteristics of a weak, but still identifiable Belgian Pale Ale. A light hops bite comes through that seems more associated with the clove than anything else. The sweet Belgian yeast comes through in the bubblegum flavor at times as a bit too sweet, but still in the realm of acceptable. And just as in the nose, there is a faint biscuit malt flavor that as just a hint of the pepper noted earlier in it, and it at least attempts to keep things in balance. The mouthfeel is a shade on the thin side, and the carbonation level is a bit on the lively end of things, but both are still manageable.
Is the Leffe Blonde going to win any awards in my book? Not even close. Is it pure garbage beer? Not even close again. What is it? In my opinion, it is one of those beers that we all should keep in our mental file cabinet under ''It's either this, or corporate garbage sludge''. You can find much better beers out there with minimal effort, but sometimes you don't have the time to invest that small amount of effort it might take. Sometimes you only have time walk in, grab something, and walk out, or else run the risk of ruining the party for everyone else. I have often talked about ''life raft beers'', and this one totally fits the bill. It will get you through a tough time, and you might even muster up a moment or two of enjoyment of it throughout the session, but at no time do you run the risk of being blown away by it or having a beer epiphany moment.
Member Comments (2)
Post a Comment
Posted on 7/8/2012 at 4:35 PM EST
I really like your driftwood metaphor to describe those tolerable life raft brews. I have yet to try any Leffe brews, but your reviews definitely have be curious. You do set up a good expectation of them, nicely done. It also seems that the Leffe Blonde is an ideal example of why you should never drink a beer from the bottle.
Readers can check out our recent Chief Chat conversation on this very topic:
I really thought I was in for one of those dreaded sessions where I wanted to hold my nose during each sip when I first opened it. It really did make me think of that Chief Chat. If nothing else, the Leffe Blonde would be a good beer to prove that very point. The change from bottle to glass was actually pretty amazing. I'm not saying the nose was amazing, but the change from "Oh dear God! This is horrific" to "Did someone switch my glass for another beer?" is something to witness at least once.
I would suggest that if you are making a "build your own" 6 pack, feel free to toss one. However, by no means should you run out and shove elderly people into traffic to clear a path to get your hands on some. That should give you a pretty good idea of what I am talking about.