1January 9th, 2013Belgian/Trappist
Stroll through an ageing orchard, take a gulp of the musty air at the defunct pressing room door. Continue past the old farm cottage to the door of the dirty whitewashed inn where the drip trays need emptying. The fruit in the bowl near the window has seen better days, and through the yellowed single pane of glass the smoke rises from the chimney in the monastery opposite. A calm shadow sneaks across the cobbles dodging wooden stools and deposits freshly baked bread with the rotund innkeeper, a silent nod the only interaction before the mysterious robed shape is gone.
Order briskly but politely and then pause to acknowledge the peppery scent, which laces the pyramid of froth in top of the brooding liquid. It glows with some kind of knowing soul. Perhaps it was the confident almost challenging pour, the beer dispatcher from curvaceous glass to angular chalice with an unexpected deftness. Sip the slightly sour, herbaceous barley juice that’s so different to it’s contemporaries. It’s no wonder those monks believe in heaven, they just don’t realise it’s closer to home than they think.
The above is a figment of imagination. Orval was the muse.
Broody and brown, like blood-red soil on a wet day, four-year aged Pannepot is dragged out of the beer cupboard and into a glass like Jack Dee to an in-laws barbecue…
It simply doesn’t want to open (the journey back from Belgium wasn’t kind: a contemporary shot it’s load in the suitcase, drenching the stash of bottles and it’s still sticky and downtrodden) but eventually, after much gushing and fizzing, it acquiesces.
Perhaps it’s just the toll of it’s arrival here, but it looks weather beaten like it’s namesakes – a pannepot is a Flemish fishing boat associated with the town of De Panne, near the French border, and the beer is a tribute to the fisherman that have enjoyed Flemish dark ales over many stormy years.
It’s tan head could easily be it’s fisherman’s beard, home to assorted aromas and flavours caught along the voyage: burnt raisins, sour figs and dry prunes, vanilla, anise, tobacco, brown sugar. Do caramelised chocolate bananas exist?
Pannepot is a smoking thurible of a beer; deep, complex, throat burning, incensed with mellow spices.
A treasure worth smuggling home, no matter how bumpy the seas.Tags: belgian
There’s Belgian style IPAs (whatever that is) and then there’s Belgian Style IPAs (whatever they are).
This is the latter.
It’s sweet beyond belief, with a wispy wheat-led aroma that places a strong sense of doubt on it’s IPA credentials. But treat it like a lady and there’s a distinct hop bitterness to it that belies it’s Belgian façade.
To say this is a mix of styles is an understatement. To say it doesn’t work would be…wrong. It’s a fascinating beer. At various sips and gulps it showcases flavours of ice cream, bitterness, lemon and a hint of vanilla smoothie – all the product of Euro/US hops and Belgian malt blended into a very light sandy golden beer of mammoth taste and enviable sweetness.
All that and I don’t think I gave it a fair crack of the Roman whip, as I shared it on a train home from London with a stranger who may have become an acquaintance had I not lost their business card later on in the pub.
This is one for the beer hunters and I’m wasting no time in tracking down again.
Tags: belgian, belgica, great divide, india pale ale, IPA
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Style: Belgian Style India Pale Ale
Terrible beer, great name.
Of course not, it’s the other way round. Disclaimer starts here: I love this beer.
I first sampled The Bitch at the Flying Dog UK tasting in Leeds. This 20th anniversary beer jumped out of its take-home tetra pak like a bat out of hell. Its nose blasted my clean out of my seat and before the night was out it was on its way to being a beer phenomenon.
Raging Bitch’s Belgian influence is the first thing that strikes me: it’s fruity esters and yeasty sweetness that only Belgian beers can pull off. Until now.
Massive grapefruit pith and outrageous sour fruit intertwine with a sweet malt finish and a bitter attack from an armada of late hops. The nose is huge thanks to a dry hopping assault by Amarillo hops. You pluck out the names of most of Sainsbury’s exotic fruit aisle if you close your eyes; for me the grapefruit ebbs and flows against tangerine and apricot. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: belgian, flying dog, grapefruit, IPA, raging bitch, tangerine
It seems that my previous claims that I wasn’t really a fan of Belgian beers were completely unfounded (or simply founded on inexperience). A few years ago I assumed incorrectly that all Belgian beer = wheat fuelled turbo Hoegarden.
Maredsous is a great example how Belgian beer can be the antithesis of my previous perception: deep brown, fruity, with no pungent wheat head or overly fizzy body.
From the church wine nose, through stewed fruit – figs or prunes perhaps – this is rich, sweet affair, almost caramel on the tongue. There’s a wisp of chocolate that arrives from nowhere to spice things up as well. It finishes softly but that isn’t such a bad thing.
This is a rich, mouth-filling beer; but with it’s gentle finish it’s the sort of beer that could become one of my staple ‘have a couple in the cupboard beers’. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: abbey, belgian, benedictine, Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, caramel, Fruity, maredsous, monks
This 7% Trappist beer was the initial choice for making my Potted Cheese recipe but, after a couple of taste tests, I reverted to Orval. As I find with most of the Trappist beers, this was quite lively in the bottle and the carbonisation was a lot of small bubbles which fill the mouth with a silky smoothness. The appearance of the beer in the glass is dark and cloudy.
The initial taste has the fruity undertones of a good wheat beer but the darker malts push through as a bitter taste develops in the mouth. This bitterness lingers in the mouth along with the distinctive taste of alcohol, a reflection of the 7% content. The combination brings to mind a reminiscence of the smell left in the glass by a good whiskey.
In an attempt to be somehow faithful to the medieval tradition of the Trappist brewers I cooed this bottle outside by parents back door, just perfect for preserving fridge space in this cold spell.Tags: 7%. Cheese, Chimay, Chimay Red, Trappist
December 4th, 2009Belgian/Trappist
I always opted for the larger (75Cl ) bottles of Saison Dupont as they come
corked rather than with a bottle cap and the metal from the cap apparently can slightly change the flavour of the beer. I figure this has been being with the cork for years so why not go with the authentic?
My first warning is to handle this strong belgian beer with care, it needs to be opened and poured extremely gently as it has a lively character. The appearence is cloudy and brighter than the picture suggests with a yellow tint. The head, as is reflective of such a lively beer, is large and holds throughout. This large bottle was split three ways and I would recommend that it is a social beer which should be taken with friends and possibly some nibbles. As I sit here I can’t help having the completely unfounded thought that it would go really well with Tapas (although please don’t blame me if that combo doesn’t work!). The less adventurous would probably have this with some strong cheese and chunky bread. I recently was discussing football boots with a friend of mine and used the phrase ‘simple is beautiful’ the same sentiment springs to mind when considering that food/beer combination.
In drinking Saison leaves a warming sensation on the tongue, probably due to the 6.5% abv. It is quite rustic, almost rough in taste. Not for the weak hearted but I think it is quite uniting in that most beer fans, whether you like ales, lagers or stouts, will find it to be a real treat.Tags: 6.5% abv, Belgian Strong Beer, Lively, Saison Dupont, Warming
I’d never heard of Daas beers until meeting the company via Twitter, perhaps because of my woeful knowledge of Belgian brewing styles. And I’m very glad I did find them.
Before I continue I should add that this Belgian-sized hole in my fairly universal appreciation of beer styles stems mainly from the fact that I’ve never really got on well with wheat style beers and many of the continental white and blonde beers.
Notable exceptions are Erdinger, which is pretty much unavoidable in the Leeds’ bars north of Briggate, (and to be fair which I reserve for nights out rather than drink at home). I occasionally used to sup Hoegarden at uni, a drink I shared almost exclusively with my friend Tyler, who introduced me to pairing it with a segment of lime. But neither of these or the other examples I’ve tried (pretty much exclusively well known brands) such as Duvel and Chimay have ever quite satisfied my palate as other styles do.
In Daas Blond and Witte there are two beers that touch on the styles that I don’t generally go for, bringing out their subtleties and developing something I quite like. They are both organic certified, one (Witte) is wheat based and the other (Blond) is made from 100% barley malt.
Daas Blonde is fruity, golden and sweet. I thought I detected zesty flavours – it tingled my tongue and I sensed a sweet and slightly spicy taste that flowed easily from bottle to throat. It really was a good, strong golden ale with clear Belgian influence that will tempt me to try more like this rather than put me off experimenting.
Bizarrely it’s supreme drinkability maybe what detracts from me wanting to call it a session beer: a session on this, as I find with many Belgian beers, tends to fill the stomach up a bit too quick (but then I probably shouldn’t be knocking back ‘World Cup’ glasses of Erdinger after midnight in Reform bar – this, I can tell you openly, is not a good strategy for longevity of bar room shenanigans!).
Daas Witte as, as you would expect, is dominated by it’s wheaty influence. It’s defining characteristics are crafted by this influence, and mixed against, again, more defined citrus flavours and spicy touches. The influence of wheat over malt in Belgian beers always perturbs me, I am clearly a British beer drinker reluctant to sacrifice on my malted barley. It’s hard for me to pass judgement on Daas Witte, as I just don’t have enough experience of it’s contemporaries to compare it too, but for a wheat beer I genuinely enjoyed it.
All in all I’ll definitely be drinking Daas Blond again, a great little number that widens my palate a little. I will also certainly try Daas Witte again, which I think has made me doubt my perceived dislike of wheat beer (maybe I just misunderstood all these years?!).
In fact, Daas’ Organic beers might just be my introduction to a world of new beers from just over the Channel, just as EIPA first tempted me into North American beers.
If you want to try it yourselves I believe Waitrose are to be stocking this in the imminent future (if not already), and the lovely folk at Daas will surely keep you better informed than I will if you talk to them on Twitter.
Fruli Belgian White Beer – Strawberry Flavour – 4.1% abv (bottled)
We’ve been up and running for a couple of months now and I’m ashamed to note that the level of female input into our reviews is frankly disgraceful. In an attempt to partially redress this error I rocked up to work this week with two bottles of Fruli, one for each of two lovely ladies from my office who were good enough to offer their time to provide me with a review in exchange for beer.
Fruli can be quite a dividing beer, something of the Marmite of the beer world, with most people either loving it or hating it. I was interested to see whether the reviews were similar or whether we would be lucky enough to see opposite ends of the spectrum. For background I should state that Amanda is an experienced beer drinker who often recommends beers and watering holes to me on a Monday after she’s been out and about over the weekend. Rachel is just an experienced drinker!!!
‘As soon as I opened the bottle I was hit with a strong smell of strawberries. I found the taste was not disappointing but I wonder if an avid beer drinker may well do as there’s only a tiny hint of beer flavour in there. It’s mostly Strawberries!
It reminded me more of a sparkling wine than a beer. I really enjoyed the taste and would definitely drink this again although I don’t think I could drink more than two in a row as it is quite sweet.’
‘I was quite disappointed in this strawberry beer, it was quite wet with no real beer taste and only a slight taste of strawberries. I too thought it was more like a pink sparkling wine than a beer.
I did however love the Timmermans Strawberry beer on draught from Muse in Wetherby on Friday night. It was really tangy with a slight beery taste. I would definitely drink that again.’
Many thanks to the guys for their comments on Fruli. I have posted a link below to an unofficial Fruli website. The website is really cool, although unofficial, and I will try and get a Fruli trail over to them for Leeds in the coming weeks.
In the meantime please feel free to add comments below if you wish to ‘weigh-in’ on the Fruli vs Timmermans debate which Amanda may well have just inadvertantly started…….Tags: 4-5% ABV, Belgian White, Fruli, Muse, Strawberry Beer, Timmermans