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Degradation in quality of classic belgian beers?

I’ve been drinking beers such as Saison Dupont, Chimey Tripple, Rodenbach for only a few years – 4 or 5. But over the past year I’ve noticed a degradation in their quality. Less flavor and aroma, in general. I’ve noticed this in many bottles over the past year, progressively getting worse. All bottles were stored well.

I’d just like to know if anyone else is noticing this. My theory is that with the up-rise in demand, the quality is diminishing. It could just be me, but I’m not sure.

I finally tried Saison Dupont the other day and wasn’t impressed after hearing so much about it. It was OK, but like you said, it seemed to be lacking…Le Merle on the other hand…

Perhaps. It could very well be that with increased demand and popularity, the need to produce more might possibly have affected quality in some cases. But, maybe not.

Don’t dismiss the possibility that it could just be a case of “palate drift”, with your taste buds simply becoming accustomed to more intense flavors present in other beers you consume.

I see this as a trend, actually.
For example, with American commercial beer having gone from ‘bland’ to (in many cases) ‘overdone’ in the last 30 or so years, I’ll often see critiques of very well made beers where good balance in the brew appears to get treated like a defect. We seem to be in an era where intense, over the top flavors seem to get more of the attention. It’s not that such beers are necessarily bad…some of them can be quite amazing… but it seems that the positive aspects of other more subdued beers seem to get overlooked, lost in the shuffle, or in some cases summarily dismissed.

From time to time, I take a complete “break” from beer to reset my palate. It’s rather surprising to make tasting observations after such a ‘break’…you sometimes wind up looking as some of those seemingly fading favorites, or even some ‘average’ brews quite differently!

[quote=“The Professor”]Perhaps. It could very well be that with increased demand and popularity, the need to produce more might possibly have affected quality in some cases. But, maybe not.

Don’t dismiss the possibility that it could just be a case of “palate drift”, with your taste buds simply becoming accustomed to more intense flavors present in other beers you consume.

I see this as a trend, actually.
For example, with American commercial beer having gone from ‘bland’ to (in many cases) ‘overdone’ in the last 30 or so years, I’ll often see critiques of very well made beers where good balance in the brew appears to get treated like a defect. We seem to be in an era where intense, over the top flavors seem to get more of the attention. It’s not that such beers are necessarily bad…some of them can be quite amazing… but it seems that the positive aspects of other more subdued beers seem to get overlooked, lost in the shuffle, or in some cases summarily dismissed.

From time to time, I take a complete “break” from beer to reset my palate. It’s rather surprising to make tasting observations after such a ‘break’…you sometimes wind up looking as some of those seemingly fading favorites, or even some ‘average’ brews quite differently![/quote]

I could not agree more! I’ve been noticing this a lot lately. It’s similar to folks who have to have hot sauce on everything. Eventually, they find no flavor from anything that isn’t doused in ghost pepper. :cheers:

The beers you’ve been drinking for the last 4-5 years I’ve been drinking for the last 15 years. I don’t agree that they’re going downhill.

Quality seems the same to me. I’m not out buying triples all that often but when I pick up a Westmalle or Chimay it doesn’t disappoint. I’m guessing your palate is changing like stated above.

I am convinced its storage and shipment getting to the US. As I said in a previous post, I just got back from Paris and ate at a Belgian restaurant, which is constantly getting fresh beer supply from Belgian. I had the Rochefort 10 in bottle and Saison Dupont on draft. Both tasted different (Rochefort “fresher” and Saison just plain different) than you get in the bottled versions in the States and both were so good I wanted to cry.

That also has a lot to do with the circumstances. Beer always tastes better when your surroundings perfectly match it.

Alanzo with all due respect aren’t you the guy that said Stone’s beers aren’t as good anymore? So Stone, Rodenbach, Dupont, and Chimay have all gone downhill? I hope my homebrew quality goes in the shitter too!
:cheers:

That also has a lot to do with the circumstances. Beer always tastes better when your surroundings perfectly match it.[/quote]

Interesting point. Like how airline bloody mary taste great on the plane when you’re heading to a vacation destination (cheap vodka and mr. T’s). Not so great on the way home :frowning:

+2. Exactly what I was thinking. Maybe your home brew is distorting your perception as well. Before I started brewing my wife really looked forward to Sam Adam’s summer ale each year. Last year I made her a Honey Weizen with some of the same spices as Sam Summer. One night before we went out for a few drinks with friends, she had 2 of my beers at home then joyfully ordered her first Sam Summer of the season. She took one sip and almost spit it out. She hated it. I had to explain that her perception was off due to drinking my beer at home first. I’ve had the same thing happen to me with IPA’s and APA’s. I love Sierra Nevada PA, but it just tastes different if I have one shortly after one of my home brewed pale ales or ipa’s.

Plus, yeah, palettes and tastes change. I eat sooo many more things than I did 10 years ago. I actually forced myself to like mustard. Couldn’t stand it before, but always wished I did like it (for hot dogs and pretzels). After finding one a could tolerate a few years ago and cooking with it more and more, i now like most mustards. Still can’t do plain old yellow mustard, but I love dijon, spicy and stone ground mustard.

[quote=“Wahoo”]Alanzo with all due respect aren’t you the guy that said Stone’s beers aren’t as good anymore? So Stone, Rodenbach, Dupont, and Chimay have all gone downhill? I hope my homebrew quality goes in the #### too!
:cheers: [/quote]

Yeah, that was me. Stone fixed the issue. It was definitely in their clarification. I believe they got a new centrifuge around that time and were trying to figure it out.

The beer didn’t change, man. You changed.

Seriously though, there are a lot of variables at play. Freshness (or aging) and storage conditions are always going to be a factor when you import beer from Europe. You may be detecting flaws that occasionally pop up, either due to QC or aforementioned beer handling, that your palate wasn’t able to detect before. Saison Dupont can get skunked in the green bottle, but it’s still damn delicious, especially if you can find it on draft. Orval is awesome but I’ve seen people who have a fresh bottle and think it’s changed since most of the brett development happens in the bottle. Chimay may have changed in the past 30 years (ask Denny about that one!), but it’s been pretty consistent since I’ve been drinking it.

As time goes by, sometimes it’s impossible to taste a beer that was once a holy grail and get the same result, even if it didn’t change. Ignorance was probably bliss.

Good point about the green bottle Duponts. I only buy the 33cL brown bottles of this beer for that reason. I’ve been burned on too many skunked Saisons and Forets… but when a beer is skunked there is no doubt about it.

I have this problem with Fantome beers as well. Need to start using brown bottles!

Ya know, with 1,800 breweries in business just in the U.S. and more brewer licenses pending this year than any previous single year, what once was quite unique, especially if an import (and moreso if Belgian/Trappist), is now one among many beers that are available to try for just about any given style, and often with a much fresher domestic beer available in competition for your tastebuds. Even if the classic brands retain their same brewing practices and ingredients, and therefore retain the same quality as when they wowed the market as a new or sure thing, you now are maybe tasting what is although delicious, no longer represents the top dog status for that style since the market is practically flooded with somewhat comparable products… whether from a store, a craftbrewery tasting room, a restaurant sporting local flavors, or quite likely your own homebrew versions of those styles.

I know that I am not as loyal a fan to some of my old standby, must-have brands, but I still always enjoy them when I can. It’s just that there’s so much out there to try now, including FRESH regional beer, so some breweries just can’t compete to maintain the public focus on their beers that they once had. On the other hand, with more people drinking craft beer, lots of folks still making bank!

It could be storage conditions. I think we have had a pretty warm winter and most distributors are not cooled. I love Saison Dupont, but I don’t buy it unless it comes right out of the box and has not been in the light. I like Chimay Blue, but I do not think it is amazing compared to Rocheford 8 or 10, Abt 12, or Westvleteren 8 or 12. Even abby beers like Golden Carolus Emperor of the Grand Cru and Unibroue Terrible have more character. Sorry for the beer spelling errors, but I am too tired to look them up.

I dont know about the taste exactly, but the last 3 bottles of Belgian imports I have tried to culture dregs from failed. This is from 2 different stores in 2 different cities. I think alot of it has to do with the storage/handling and yes American brewers are getting better at brewing Belgian like ales .

Gouden Carolus Cuvee van de Kaiser Blauw “Grand Cru of The Emperor” (yes, that’s one beer) might be the most underrated belgian beer available here in the US. het Anker makes some really nice beers, Hopsinjoor is a fun drink too if it’s fresh.

I dont see quality diminishing. You say the bottles are stored well but you have no idea what was done with them prior to their long journey here. If it is really bad from skunking or oxidation or whatever you can tell by the off flavors

Your first time trying them they are going to wow you to if you were a huge fan and as your palate develops.

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