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

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Belgium Beer Weekend Wrap-up #2: Nacht van Grote Dorst

After the pre-ZBF festival, Friday evening brought a brief rainy and cold stop at the Nacht Van Grote Dorst in Eizeringen. This is festival of lambic and gueuze that began in the early 2000s. It focuses solely on the lambic and gueuze producers of Belgium. There were two firsts this year- Cantillon from Brussels was there and even bigger was the appearance by the American brewery Allagash.

The last few years Allagash has been producing and aging spontaneously fermented beer in Maine. They just released the first of it late last year. It is made in the traditional way that lambic is made but just happens to not be made in Belgium. They make a point to not call it lambic or gueuze out of deference to the homeland of those libations. At the festival they had four beers available- the basic Spontaneous, the Coolship Red (aged on local raspberries for 4 months), the Coolship Cerise (aged on Montmorency cherries for 4 months), and Resurgam (a blend of two year old, 1.5 year old, and 6 month old spontaneous beer). I tried the Cerise and enjoyed it quite a bit. It has a subdued sourness and a faint note of the cherries lurking the background. While quite dry, it is still distinctly different from the Belgian fruit lambics in its taste.

One gripe I would have about the festival is the way that beers are served by the whole bottle. While the prices were reasonable, it make it harder to sample a wider selection of beers if you are not in a large group. Another observation here was there seemed be a distinct lack of Belgians there. Groups of Americans and British abounded as we walked around, a number of them populated by members of coach tours that came for the festival. While I understand the draw to sample great beer like this in its homeland, it takes a bit away from the festival if there are barely any native festival goers there. Just my two cents.

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