I suppose you can’t talk “Big Beers” without mentioning (at least in passing!) Belgium. In this case, it’s a Christmas beer: Noël Des Géants from Brasserie Des Géants in Wallonia, the French speaking half of Belgium; I picked it up shortly after Christmas without knowing much about it (but it was a good price).
It’s not just a big Belgian beer in terms of alcohol however (8.5% by volume); “géants” in French literally means “giants” and the town of Irchonwelz in which the brewery is found has an annual “giants march.” I’m not sure what such a spectacle would look like but it sounds like one of those things that should go on the list to see someday.
Appearance: Nut-brown and cloudy, with a rocky, impressive tan head.
Smell: Rich and sugary with only the barest hint of fruit. A touch of flossy cotton candy and maybe bubblegum; caramel malts and brown sugar.
Taste: Spun sugar in the mouth, makes me think “sugarplums.” It’s toffee-rich caramel and a hint of smoky malt; a rummy note hinting at its strength. A little more alcohol heat at the back of the mouth. Very rich but holding “Belgium” in check.
Mouthfeel: Chewy and sharp—bright effervescence and some alcoholic astringency on the tongue.
Overall: Sweet, rich, cloying, yet a bit restrained. Decadent and tasty.