It's all about the beer and finding your way to it

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Grandest Cru for the Winter

Brouwerij Kerkom in Sint Truiden makes a great range of beers and this winter has introduced a new one, the long-named Haspengouwse Grand Cru Winterkoninkske. They had already make a stellar winter beer called Winterkoninkske (the name for the bird we call a wren) but for the Grand Cru they made a much stronger richer version. It is almost pitch black and has a strong roasty, chocolately nose and taste.

The 13% ABV is slightly noticable and ensures that it has the nice warming feeling necessary on cold snowy winter nights. It is fermented with a champagne yeast and is not as heavy in body as it looks. A stunning winter beer.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Half Meter of Beer

The holidays are well over by now but the stores still need to unload their gift merchandise. This weekend I found a 'demi metre de bier' on sale at the supermarket. Packed in the long wooden case were eight bottles of St Feuillien that worked out to less than $1 per bottle. Not something that can be turned down.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Brugs Beertje

The Brugs Beertje (Little Bruges Bear) has been around for about 25 years and they must be doing something right because they still get high marks from beer community. It is a cozy, well worn place with a great communal feel. The small front room has a bar with about a dozen stools and some tables opposite the bar, most set against a wooden bench along the walls. There is an equally sized back room with more tables and then a third event room with a second bar and some more tables that is opened sometimes when it gets crowded. They have five taps- two regulars (Brugse Zot, Deconnick) and three rotating taps of special beers (recently including La Rulles Estival and Dupont Les Bon Voeux). It is place well known to beer aficionados- the Good Beer Guide to Belgium notes that no one will seriously believe you found the place by accident.

A visit to a place such as this deserves a fine beer so I went with a 2008 Oerbier Reserva from De Dolle. This is their Oerbier aged in oak casks. This further aging lifts the alcohol level over 10% abv. It has an incredibly complex flavor that touches on notes of bourbon, a hint of sourness, along with a light spiciness. These all come together to make an amazing beer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hop Power of a Different Kind

Some of the smaller more adventurous Belgian breweries are making beers that are more along the lines of American IPAs. The beer in photo, Pipedream, is an example of this. It uses five types of hops and these give it a very floral and citrusy hop character. This beer is a collaboration (an increasing trend in craft beer) between Struise, Alvinne, and Pipeworks Brewing. Pipeworks is an as yet brewery-less trio of Americans that trained with Struise. Pipedream has a strong but very balanced hoppiness with a bitterness that is not overpowering. Very pleasant to drink. The 7.8% ABV is not really noticeable. It is a solid achievement in a style that can often stray from maintaining an important balance between the different aspects of a beer.