Tag Archives: Netherlands

101. Koningshoeven La Trappe Blond

It must be all of two weeks since we last visited Lowlander. It’s a pleasant evening for a stroll around the West End, so why not let’s drift back. We can tackle this week’s Beelzebub crossword and sample the third and final La Trappe beer that we need while we’re there.

Koningshoeven La Trappe Blond at Lowlander Grand Café

We’ve already seen the La Trappe Dubbel and also the Tripel. The Blond is actually the least strong of the three, at a mere 6.5% ABV.

It pours very much the expected golden colour with a small amount of dense, white foam, and there’s a remarkable amount of fizz to it.

This is technically a Dutch beer, but like the previous La Trappe offerings, it’s basically as Belgian as a beer can get, short of, you know, actually being Belgian. It smells and tastes every inch the typical Belgian blond: floral and honey notes, banana fruit and musty farmhouse yeast.

There’s a hint of vanilla and some spicy hops, and despite being a little gassy, it’s quite refreshing. Unfortunately it’s a disappointingly inoffensive beer. There’s none of the moreish, zingy saltiness of the last Trappist blond we tried, the famous Westvleteren, or the warming alcohols of the La Trappe Tripel.

There’s nothing to particularly dislike about this one, but on balance, it’s really a rather forgettable beer.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Abdij Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven, Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands
Style: Trappist Beers
Strength: 6.5% ABV
Found at: Lowlander Grand Café, Drury Lane, London WC2B
Serving: 330ml bottle

96. Koningshoeven La Trappe Tripel

I very much enjoy my all-too-infrequent visits to the splendid Lowlander on Drury Lane. To while away an afternoon being waited on by their charming and tirelessly efficient young staff, who unhesitatingly fetch you round after round of hopelessly strong beers at the slightest invocation, is one of London’s great pleasures.

You’ll remember that we previously enjoyed that rather special Rodenbach Grand Cru there a little while ago, but we haven’t exhausted the intersection between Lowlander’s extensive beer menu and the 300 Beers Todo List by any means. Let’s beckon our serveuse over and order a bottle of La Trappe Tripel.

Koningshoeven La Trappe Tripel

As I mentioned when I covered La Trappe Dubbel a little while ago, the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Koningshoeven brewery is the only Trappist brewery in the Netherlands, and as such brews what may be regarded as quite typically Belgian beer styles.

The Tripel is no exception. Blonder, hoppier and a little stronger than the Dubbel at 8.0%, the La Trappe Tripel is absolutely typical of its style, the archetype for which is of course the Westmalle Tripel.

This is a remarkably similar beer. One whiff and I’m back in Brussels, as the Belgian yeast, subtle hops and that distinctive dried banana aroma flow freely forth. To taste, it’s fresh, zesty and astonishingly light for an eight percenter.

As it warms, peppery, spicy notes come through, and while I wouldn’t have identified it myself, it’s not entirely surprisingly to learn that the monks brew this one with a touch of coriander. It contributes a spicy heat and adds complexity, though the beer isn’t lacking in that already.

I’m becoming quite fond of this brewery, though I’d tend to lean towards their 10% ABV Quadrupel, a couple of which are quietly ageing in the Official 300 Beers Cellar (a cardboard box in the spare room). That one isn’t in The Book, but there is one more La Trappe beer to track down. Stay tuned.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Abdij Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven, Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands
Style: Trappist Beers
Strength: 8.0% ABV
Found at: Lowlander Grand Café, Drury Lane, London WC2B
Serving: 330ml bottle

86. Koningshoeven La Trappe Dubbel

The next stop on our brief tour of London’s West End takes us to De Hems, a historically Dutch-run pub and former oyster bar, music industry meeting place and alternative comedy venue on the edge of Chinatown.

De Hems, London

De Hems is steeped in history, but has fairly recently become part of the Nicholson’s empire of chain pubs.

It’s to Nicholson’s credit, though, that they haven’t squeezed the life out of it. De Hems is thankfully more like a continental beer café than a London chain pub, and its array of Dutch and Belgian beers, its list of bewilderingly-named Dutch foodstuffs, and its friendly welcome mean it remains as popular with natives of the Netherlands as with London office workers.

Most usefully for 300 Beers, it also has this particular Trappist ale on tap.

Koningshoeven La Trappe Dubbel

The Dutch-based Koningshoeven abbey was until recently the only Trappist brewery outside Belgium. It can be reasonably tricky to find their beer in the UK even in bottles, and I’m not aware of it being available on tap anywhere else.

You could have a pint if you liked, but as this one weighs in at 7.0% ABV and it’s lunchtime, we’ll stick to a half and enjoy having it served in the correct glassware, as is typically the case at De Hems.

Served from keg it’s a little too cold, but as it warms in your hand it reveals itself to be the archetypal Trappist Dubbel: full of dates, sultanas and malt loaf. La Trappe Dubbel is smooth and very easy-drinking, and while the malty sweetness means it never quite tastes its full 7%, there’s a nice, warming booziness all the same.

While a little lighter-bodied than the Westmalle Dubbel, La Trappe is still less watery than the Chimay Rouge, both obvious points of reference for what is a very similar beer. The finish is satisfyingly peppery and perhaps a little moreish.

Moreish enough that I had a second one anyway, and have since been back to De Hems for more, drawing a knowing smile from the barman. There are two more La Trappe beers to be tracked down, and I wonder if we may have to travel further than Chinatown to find them.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Abdij Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven, Berkel-Enschot, Netherlands
Style: Trappist Beers
Strength: 7.0% ABV
Found at: De Hems, Macclesfield Street, London W1D
Serving: Keg, half pint

59. Grolsch Pilsener

In retrospect, I may inadvertently have given The Commercial a bit of a hard time
when I reviewed that underwhelming pint of Hop Back Summer Lightning last week.

Which, all told, is a bit of a flimsy excuse for drifting back there today and ordering a bottle of Grolsch.

I know what you’re thinking. Grolsch doesn’t exactly have the finest reputation around these parts: in the UK, it’s typically a flavourless, slightly-too-strong-to-be-sessionable keg lager with very few redeeming features. I was surprised to find it in The Book at all.

In fairness, this is no ordinary Grolsch. This is the proper, imported, Dutch-brewed Pilsner in the tactile, sculpted green glass bottle with the famous swing-top. Young people of my generation might recognise the ceramic cap from the shoes of such popular modern beat combos as Bros. Google them, kids.

It may be my imagination, but imported Grolsch seems to get harder to get hold of as each year passes. No problem: The Commercial have it on permanent standby in the fridge, and a chilled bottle of lager seemed irresistible on this, the muggiest day of the year so far.


Well, there it is. A slightly stingily-sized 450ml bottle of lager with a fancy lid.

It tastes like a halfway decent lager, which is to say that there’s the slightest hint of malt in there to prevent it tasting of nothing at all. This, in essence, is where the imported Grolsch differs from the UK-brewed keg stuff.

It was cold and I didn’t hate it, but yeah, pint of Brooklyn Lager, please Zöe.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Koninklijke Grolsch N.V., Enschede, Netherlands
Style: Pilsners
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: The Commercial, Railton Road, London SE24
Serving: 450ml Bottle