I have come to find Baerlic mostly because I said I would. I happened to be in the area with a little time to kill so I consider it a win-win. Who can resist a beer name like Haelwijn? Reversed ‘ae’ and an ‘ij’ kissing in the same word? Apparently means “Hell wine”? Gimme that.
This is a Belgian golden strong ale and I’m digging it. The nose is fruity, reminding me of raisins or maybe dates. It’s got a nice finish too: the Haelwijn practically disappears, which is a little strange. Frequently these beers linger with a sweetness that can get sickly fast. But this isn’t thin; it has a gentle viscosity that belies an alcoholic bite. Very subtle and potentially dangerous to the uninitiated because this is a 9.9% beer. They did right by the Haelwijn though; enough of the sugars have been eaten in this beer that it avoids any of the coyly sweet notes.
I like this environment to drink in. Big windows at my back helping light up the joint: the illumination is faux-date night and works for the midafternoon but I would enjoy it a little brighter in the evening. There’s a cribbage board over there so there is, at least, the notion that one could play games here. I always approve of that.
Baerlic has that new bar smell, still. Everything is shiny and in sharp contrast. It doesn’t yet have the lived in quality that makes the best joints awesome but at the same time, it’s comfortable, low key and ready to be populated with stories from the neighborhood. I look forward to seeing this place getting some stories to tell.