“Queue de Charrue” translates (from French) as “Tail of the Plough” – which is in turn a translation of the name of the village ‘Ploegsteert’ (in Flemish) from whence this particular brew hails.
That mixture of French and Flemish, and 9% ABV should give you enough clues to guess that this baby is a tripel from Belgium, actually from Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium.
The village of Plougsteert, about a mile from the French border, was only acknowledged to be a village in its own right in 1850, but the nearby Plougsteert Wood saw fierce fighting during the First World War.
The Plougsteert Memorial to the Missing commemorates nearly eleven and a half thousand British and Commonwealth soldiers who were lost between January and May 1916 – I did say ‘fierce fighting’.
Indeed no less than three Victoria Crosses were awarded to men lost in the battle – the Victoria Cross being Britain’s highest Military award.
On to more pleasant thoughts… the ‘Vanuxeem’ brewery was founded in 1986 by the scions of a successful drinks distributor. The Vanuxeem family had owned the Gillebert brewery since the start of the 20th Century, but the brewery had ceased brewing in 1966.
Their first brew in 1986 was a recreation of a classic Flemish Brown Ale, this was followed by the Blonde Tripel in 1992, an Ambrée in 1998 and a lager in 2009.
Now… on to the ale:
It pours a pale, slightly hazy, golden colour, with a rich foaming head. The head is very slow to fade, leaving some serious lacing around the glass.
There’s not too much nose, slightly bready, slightly sour, but nothing that really grabs you.
It’s medium to full bodied – for a pale beer.
The flavour? Well there are hints of barley sugar, and that bready, slightly cardboard flavour, but all of these subtleties are quickly blown away by a potent punch of candy sugar and alcohol.
At 9% ABV this has a kick, and to be honest, it’s not that pleasant.
All in all, to me this seems to one of those Belgian beers that are brewed purely for their strength, there’s little or no subtlety, and as a drinking experience it’s just not all that enjoyable. There are other Belgian ales, both weaker and stronger, that I would turn to before another one of these.
Mind you the brewery’s website includes a recipe for Quail using this brew, perhaps it’s better as a cooking ingredient than as a beer!
Bob the Brit