Tilburg's Dutch Brown Ale: Toothbrush Not Included

Jun 1, 2004

The Bottom Line Tilburg's Dutch Brown Ale is highly drinkable, smooth, soft brown ale which can exhaust one’s palate after a time. Still, a tasty sweet ale excursion.

Few beers I’ve tried recently have been as weirdly welcoming as the first taste of Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale (made by Bierbrouwerij de Koningshoeven, Tilburg, the Netherlands), a new offering in my neck of the woods (imported by Bavaria USA in Dallas Texas).

“Weird” because the label art is based on Dutch painter’s Jeroen (Hieronymus) Bosch’s [1450-1516] The Garden of Earthy Delights. The detail depicts a bird–like creature devouring a human with other birds emanating from the human’s backside. (No, I was not in an “altered” state, nor was I suffering flashbacks to a memorable concert with "special effects" in 1979.)

Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale pours out to a mahogany rich caramel brown color with a full head of beer lace. The aroma gives off a note of nutty butterscotch like flavors.

“Welcoming” because this brown ale is sweet, sweet, and more sweet. The sweetness runs the spectrum of sweet sensations here: caramel, coffee, and some toffee and slight honey-like flavors with a chocolate nuttiness present as well. The mouthfeel is pretty much described as an onslaught of sweetness from the malt, with a very subtle note of hops dryness at the finish.

Compared to the well-known Newcastle Brown Ale, the flavors of Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale are certainly much sweeter. Newcastle strikes me as much more of a session ale by design, whereas the flavor profile of Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale may strike some drinkers as cloying, or overly sweet, and not conducive to multiple tastings at one sitting.

I’m Calling It a Brown Ale, But…
Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale is also described in one package handout as a Dutch Trappist Ale, that is, an ale brewed under the “Trappist” monk traditions of Belgium. It’s not clear from the label information as to whether Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale is, indeed, an authentic “Trappist” ale, or just one based on the Trappist tradition (an “Abbey” ale). The Web site (www.tdba.nl) is in Dutch and does link to the La Trappe site.

In any event, Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale is the kind of flavor experience that some beer drinkers may shy away from. I found it highly drinkable, easily so, though the heavy sweetness can exhaust one’s palate after a time. To its credit, however, the ale is very smooth, with a softness to it that makes for one tasty sweet ale excursion.

Tilburg’s Dutch Brown Ale is packaged in 11.2 oz bottles so those keeping score at home are losing 4.8 oz of beer/ale if you’re that cost conscious. At $6.99 a six-pack, it was a worthy experiment and I would recommend it ( 4 stars) for beer drinkers looking for something a bit beyond their usual fare. Just pack a toothbrush for when you’re finished.

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