Mainland Europe makes some wonderful beer, entirely unlike our own domestic ales – that is to say, the styles are entirely different, not that our domestic ales aren't equally wonderful!
Belgium, in particular, produces fantastic, big flavoured (and frequently strong!) beers which are always worth seeking out. (I'm partial to the occasional Kwak myself). But in the UK your options are fairly limited; I can only think of a handful of Belgian brews readily available.
Daas have been brewing beer for more than 900 years (which is fairly old even for a Belgian brewery) but have only recently started pushing into the UK market*. Having encountered them at a food show, I quickly bought some of everything and looked forward to a Belgian brewery tour. I hesitate to call this a proper "Tour-At-Home", because three small bottles hardly feels like a tour; nonetheless it's a sampling of the full range.
The range itself is organic, and bottle conditioned. It's missing a 'Brune', which you would have thought after 900 years they could have worked into their output, but that might be my prejudice showing!
First up is Daas Witte, a wheat beer at 5.0%. It’s a slightly murky, pale straw colour with a thick, lingering head. It smells of yeast, and fresh green fruit with a distinct sharpness. In the mouth it has a nice firm body, the refreshing yet strong taste you expect from a wheat beer, not very sweet with more hints of green fruit and just a slight bitter, dry finish. The bubbles fill your mouth in just the right way. Given that it doesn’t taste that sweet, there’s a strange lingering stickiness that you’d expect to come from something much sweeter. It’s curious; not bad, but I’m not blown away.
Next, Daas Blond, a traditional Belgian blond beer at 6.5%. Similarly murky, with a nice golden colour to it and a thinner but still quite lingering head. On the nose, there’s a sweet richness of malt, and more yeast. A similar mouthfeel to the Witte; that rich maltiness, almost honey is still there but there’s a curious acidity to the flavour too. There’s a definite darkness to the flavour which you wouldn’t necessarily expect from the colour alone - although to be fair it’s not unusual for a Belgian blonde. The bubbles are still a little intense, but I’m liking this one much more - although I’m not sure it compares favourably to, say, a Leffe.
Finally, Daas Ambre, also at 6.5%. Unlike the others, this pours clear, in a rich amber tone with a thinner but still foamy head. It has a similar rich malty, almost toffee-like nose and taste. The mouthfeel, if anything, is lighter than the others, although you can still taste the strength. There’s a slightly unpleasant bitter tail to it; not with any real hoppiness, it’s just … bitter. It has an almost dry taste; it's a perfectly drinkable but it's an unremarkable Ambre.
To sum up then; there's nothing exactly wrong with any of these beers, but neither do they get me particularly excited.
Daas is available from myBreweryTap and various organic retailers for around £2.49 a bottle.
*We've been contacted by Daas Beer to make a correction to our post. They have been brewing beer for just 4 years, not 900, as we said above! We were thrown by the text on their website that reads "Das premium organic beers uphold our Belgian tradition of brewing excellence lasting more than 900 years" and even more by the "1096" in their logo. Both refer to the Belgian brewing tradition in general and not to Das Beer specifically!
Usually, We'd simply edit the original text. But we're curious – does anyone else think using the year 1096 in their logo more than implies that Daas themselves have been brewing since that time? Or that they are using a recipe from that date or even that their brewery is on a site that has been a brewery since that date...?