These three from Brasserie de la Senne arrived shortly before Christmas and, despite the prodigious efforts one makes to drink everything new that crosses one's path, it took a while for the trio to find space in the fridge.
My previous experience with de la Senne is limited to the delicious Manneken Penn and the nasty (at least in that instance) Taras Boulba, so this could have gone either way.
First up is Zinnebir, not really billed as anything and suggesting only a general Belgian blondness in the glass; it's hazy and smells fairly plainly of yeast, wet grain and husky wheat. To taste it is unsurprisingly dry, bitter, and coarse, but remains quite drinkable for all that. Amid the folds of that typical Belgian grist you can just about pick apart some lemongrass and white peppercorns, which liven things up a bit - just in the nick of time too, this gets a bit boring halfway through. The only other excitement is the hint of fleshy lemon and grapefruit that appears at the very end of the long, lingering bitterness.
Not a world beater then, but not bad either.
Brusseleir is the black IPA of the bunch, though it doesn't pour so much black as a dark cola brown/red. There are hints of astringency on the nose with burnt coffee and toast, as well as touch of uncleanliness - this really isn't promising much, though I accept I didn't pour carefully enough to prevent a load of yeast sediment filling the glass. Thankfully things are much cleaner to taste, and instead of that harsh, grating, roast bitterness that a black IPA sometimes throws up you get a soft, sweet-accented beer with a rather straightforward cola, coffee and juicy orange profile. Things stay prey low key throughout, and while that doesn't reflect a fantastic return for the 8% ABV, points for subtlety and drinkability must be awarded.
Completing the trio is Jambe de Bois, another 8%-er, this time a tripel. It's a relatively clear pale gold and has almost the same aroma as the Zinnebir, all yeasty, gristy coarseness, though without any wonkiness. Much unlike the Zinnebir, though, is the opening of soft, pillowy coriander and clove, and things only get cosier as it warms to spiced honey and lemon drops. This is by far the most enjoyable glass of the three, and should you find room for only one of these in your fridge, let it be the Jambe de Bois.
So, none of them reach the heaven's high of Manneken Penn, but they are far from the all time low of the dodgy Taras Boulba linked above. Sensible.