We had dinner at the Broken Spoke Cafe on Friday night, and I was thrilled to see that they’ve expanded their beer menu since our last visit three months ago.
When the BSC first merged with the Cafe Montrose theme (with plenty of “bullshit drama“), the beer lineup was limited to a few Belgian selections on draft — Duvel, Stella Artois, and I think a Maredsous and Blanche de Bruxelles. They still have those, but they’ve now added a good selection of bottled Belgian beers — including Kwak, Tripel Karmeliet and the three Chimays. Best of all, they had two Affligems, the Dubbel and Tripel, which I had heard about but never drank. The Tripel gets slightly better reviews, but I tend to prefer Dubbels, so I ordered that one in a 750ml bottle and dove in.
Muddy chocolatey brown with maybe a touch of orange when backlit. The waiter’s pour leaves a very thin and fizzy head that disappears in a flash, leaving almost nothing aside from some leftover bubbles. I expect the second pour to be better, and it is. I get a fizzy, quarter-inch, light tan head that also doesn’t last long at all, although it leaves behind some more splotchy bubbles.
The nose is nice and exactly what I expected — it’s fruity (raisins and figs I think) and sugary and maybe just a touch spicy. On that evidence, I can’t wait to taste it.
At first the taste is also as expected, but maybe a bit underwhelming — there are dates and raisins and figs, certainly some subtle spice… and not a whole lot else. Maybe some cherries, but I’m starting to reach. I’m hoping the second glass is better — a more vigorous pour and some warmth should help to open it up.
About that second glass — the nose and flavor haven’t improved a ton, although the beer is growing on me. At this point I would say it’s solid at worst, and maybe better.
As for the mouthfeel, there is a ton of soft Belgian carbonation up front — to the point that the first sip foams up in my mouth. It’s a bit of a light body at first, but improves noticeably as it warms. It’s never a full body, but it’s not bad. The abv is only 7%, and it’s extremely well-hidden — I never smell or taste any alcohol presence.
Affligem Dubbel didn’t blow me away, but it started off well and only got better as I drank more. By the bottom of the second glass I was really enjoying it. I can’t say whether that was due more to the alcohol or the warming, but either way I liked it, and there was still enough left in the 750 for a third glass. I poured it very carefully and left a half-inch behind in the bottle, and even then I ended up with some noticeable dark brown sediment in the glass.
Speaking of the glass, it was the thickest and heaviest glass chalice I’ve ever drank out of. It was so heavy, it almost slipped out of my hand the first time I picked it up.
B+ (The nerds over at Beer Advocate give it a B+)