Price: $4.95 (bottleshop), $12.50 (pub)
Leffe Blonde must have been one of the first Belgian beers that I ever experienced. To me it’s a bit of a ‘standard’ that you know if there is nothing else interesting behind the bar, that the Leffe Blonde will keep you interested. I am pretty sure that I have also tried the Brune from time to time but I have never really noticed the Radieuse (Radiant).
At a passing glance you would describe this beer as cherry red in colour. Well not quite, but it does have some bright redness to it. It is pretty clear to see where the radiant title came from. The clarity os clear as a bell. The head is thick and creamy giving great ‘whipped egg white’ foam with a colour reminiscent of one of Richie Benaud’s famous sports coats (off white). An all-round great looking beer.
The nose is very light. Nothing offensive just not much notable till you really get your nose in the glass. There is light yeastiness and some sweet fruit that I can’t really place.
I immediately like the flavour of this beer. It is fruity, in a Belgian kind of way; dark fruits and sweet caramel with classic Belgian spiciness. There is hoppy bitterness up front but this is lightened by some great effervescence.
There is a very big finish on this beer similar (in length) to a substantial red wine. You get a lovely warmth from the alcohol (8.2%) but most notably is the sugary bitterness that lingers on. On the pallet I am left with sour cherries and bananas and I am not talking about ‘hints of’, I mean I’ve just finished mashing bananas and cherries into my face. It is slightly unusual and I understand that it might not agree with all but I love it.
I can’t figure my scoring system. Drinks that I think are good rate poorly (overall) and others do surprisingly well. What do I mean in this case? Well the flavour and finish are really fantastic but do I really think this is one of the best beers I have tasted (18/20)? No, but it is particularly enjoyable. I would definitely recommend picking one up and taking it for a ride. The bold flavours would work well with a powerful meal. I am thinking a starter plate with Stilton cheese and walnuts. For the cigar guys out there, this would go well with a big Cuban no problems at all. Either way, give it a go.