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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Aged Beer Porn

A bottle of 1990 De Neve Kriek served from the cellar of the Spytighen Duvel . I know, I know not a classic example of the style but the 20 years have toned down the sweetness nicely and given it a hint of sourness that made it very pleasant to drink.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Beer & Bicycling in Belgium

Belgium has a reputation as being mad about cycling (as I write this the La Flèche Wallonne road race is on live TV). A large proportion of the people also love beer. The abundance of rural beer cafes, often along bicycle routes, brings the two together regularly. In the warmer weather you can almost always find someone in spandex with a beer in front of them at a countryside cafe. On the weekends you can often find large gangs of riders taking over sections of cafe terraces. And why not? Nothing on earth is more refreshing than a crisp Belgian blonde ale after a leisurely pedal through the countryside.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Finely Aged Beer At The Kulminator

In the Flemish port city of Antwerp is the classic beer cafe called the Kulminator. A cozy, if somewhat cluttered, candle-filled establishment with plants growing from containers by the windows and classical music wafting through, it opened in the 70s and wears its age well. Its strong point is aged beers and their phenomenal list has many beers from many different vintages. It also has a small but quality draft selection.

After ducking in from a cold driving rain and shedding our wet coats, we decided on a 1998 Rochefort 6 and a 2001 Rodenbach Grand Cru. They both were in good condition and tasted superb, the Rodenbach especially. Like the 2000 Grand Cru from a few posts ago, it had mellowed nicely while keeping a nice sour touch to it. The Rochefort 6 was a bit more alcoholly that a fresh version is but it was a little more rounded.

Kulminator is certainly a place that has to be experienced of you are in Antwerp and you should be sure to take your time with the beer menu as there are so many wonderful choices.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wow! Kriekenlambic

Time for another trip to the Pajottenland, home of lambic and geuze. The De Cam gueuze stekerij (meaning essentially 'blendery') in Gooik has been around for about 10 years now and buys their lambic from Boon, Girardin, and other lambic makers to age, blend, and then create their own oude gueuze and oude kriek. Blenders of gueuze are not an uncommon thing in the region as the blending and aging is the most important factor in creating a unique final product. Hanssens and Drie Fonteinen are other well known blenders.

Right next to the De Cam stekerij is the De Cam Volkscafe where, along with hearty meal, you can find the wonderful De Cam kriekenlambic on draft. Kriekenlambic is what is left after steeping cherries in a barrel of the original lambic for many months. Most of it goes for bottling to become oude kriek after further bottle aging. Here though they serve some of what's left on its own without further aging. It is a flat and served in a earthen mug. The taste is full of the wonderful rich cherry flavors of the fruit and melds nicely with the sourness of the lambic. Perfect on a spring day.

In addition to this treat you can also find the other De Cam products like the outstanding and beautifully dry Oude Gueuze.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Moeder Lambic, The Original

Moeder Lambic, a bastion of good beer in the St Gilles commune (neighborhood) of Brussels, is located in the shadow of the town hall. Even with the opening of a new location closer to the center of Brussels, the original continues to hold down its deserved place at the top of the Brussels beer universe. This is due to a great list of bottles and thoughtful selections of draft beer along with a nice comfortable location with big windows looking out on the goings on in St Gilles.
A while ago I made a trip there to sample some Saison d'Epeautre from Brasserie Blaugies. This was the first time it was on draft, something first noted on the Thirsty Pilgrim blog. This beer is from southern Hainaut province, almost on the French border. It has a soft golden yellow hue and a wonderful dry grassy bitterness that is very refreshing on a spring day.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Time For A Paasbier

Easter weekend (Paasfeest) is here and that means it is time to crack open some Easter beers (or Paasbiers). Aside from Christmas beers (background story here), Belgium does not have as much of an overwhelming seasonal beer fad going on as there is in the US where many/most breweries release beers for each season. Easter beers in Belgium number nowhere close to the amount of Christmas beers produced; I could only find four of them.

There is no style for Easter beers and therefore these beers range across the board. The Slaghmuylder Paasbier (5.2% abv) is a crisp all malt lager that uses local hops and with it's refreshing flavor has a taste of spring. On the other end is the Gouden Carolus Easter Beer (9% abv) which is a dark heavy ale with a hint of liquorice. This sort of recalls the more weighty religious overtones of the holiday. In between you find the Bos Keun from De Dolle, a sweetish ale of high alcohol (10% abv) but with a lighter body than the Carolus and the new St Feuillien Forårsbryg ("spring brew"), a 7.5% abv amber ale. It is brewed for the Danish market but sometimes on sale here (although it is not on their website at all).

Happy Easter and enjoy whatever beer you may be drinking for the holiday!