Hellekapelle is a pale ale from Brouwerij de Bie. It comes in a 330ml brown bottle with a label featuring a witch flying on her broomstick over a graveyard…(hell’s chapel?). I’ve no idea how long this beer had been lingering, untouched and unloved, in the dark, dusty depths – and since there was no ‘best by’ date, I’m still no wiser.
Brouwerij de Bie has only been around since 1992 – a definite newcomer in one of the most ancient of beer-producing regionsof the world. They brew around half-a-dozen or so different, bottle-conditioned beers in a small, rural brewery – just south of Poperinge and very close to the border with France. Poperinge is probably the centre of belgium’s hop growing area.
Hellekapelle pours a hazy, pale golden colour. Hazy is maybe not a strong enough adjective – there’s so much yeasty sediment in suspension, I’m almost reaching for a soup spoon. It’s topped by a puffy, white head which disappears as quick as snaw affa dyke, leaving only the sketchiest film of lace on the glass.
It has a sweet flowery aroma, with some honey and citrus fruit. It’s a little yeasty and definitely spicy with coriander and cinnamon notes – maybe even some cloves. Very fruity and a vague hint of bubblegum.
It’s quite light-bodied, with a crisp mouthfeel, and the taste is hoppy and flowery. As with the aroma, the flavours are predominantly fruity – mandarin and orange, citric and zesty…even some berries. More coriander on the palate, too. I’m guessing that wheat is used in the brew as it has many of the characteristics of a wheat beer. There’s not much malt flavour here at all, just a little caramel in the middle, but there’s certainly plenty of input from the yeast. The finish is on the dry side, with a late hop flourish giving a little bite at the end.
At 5% ABV, the beer is refreshing and thirst-quenching. The hop bitterness is quite light, but then so is the malt profile. It’s tasty and a very enjoyable beer which makes an ideal session beer. There’s a lot of contrasting fruit flavours going on, but it’s not overwhelming, or too sweet.
I’ve seen beers with a more attractive appearance in the glass – this one’s pretty murky. But it tastes great, and if you turn the lights down a bit, or close your eyes, it’s beautiful!
Would I drink it again? – Hell, yes.