It might sound like a duo of techno producers who would have supported Sven Vath on his 17-hour marathon sessions in Frankfurt in the early 90s, but it turns out Sterk & Donker actually means merely Strong & Dark. One of the first raft of limited releases from Boatrocker's new brewery, it comes with a pretty involved production behind it. Before making the beer, the two Matts that brew Boatrocker beers created their own Belgian style candi syrup, using multiple heat treatments and quick temperature reductions on granulated sugar "so as to intensify the Maillard reactions and the flavour compounds". Once the syrup was ready, they brewed S&D with the Westmalle Abbey yeast before cellaring it for several months in their conditioning room.
So was it worth all the effort? Well, it's certainly strong (10.5 per cent) and it's certainly dark. And, having sampled a bottle, it's certainly worth tracking down. It pours beautifully, with a full off white head atop its deep ruddy bulk and a velvety body to match. Both aroma and flavour are awash with sweet candy and rich, dark dried fruits, making it a beer to sip and savour over an evening. The alcohol is warming, but well hidden among the layers of sweetness, in a beer that bodes very well for Boatrocker's future Belgian plans.