Well, in the past 12 hours my 'good beer guide to belgium' book arrived in the mail, then did a belgium beer tasting at Purvis and now have a contact of a belgium beer distributor who was hosting the tasting last night. Now i wake up this morning to find that the day after i arrive in brussels there is a Belgian beer weekend festival happening in the centre of town, that will have 50 breweries, including all 6 Belgian trappist breweries. What a way to start my beer journey of belgium and find out what breweries i wish to explore more. This trip is planning itself!
OK to last nights beer tasting. Peter Van Osta is in town for this weekend's beer expo and was willing to put up with the aussie palate for the night to host a belgium beer tasting at purvis cellars. was a good turn out (double what was expected) so we had to break up into two groups. 21 beers were on show ranging from the well know (Kwak, Westmalle), to a 'kitchen sink' brewer (gives me a bit of hope) and even an Italian brewer posing as a belgium. as previously, below is the beer journey i went on (and basically what i wrote at the time).
1) De Troch Chapeau Framboise Lambic (3.2%) - sweet in smell and taste (almost overbearing). quite smooth and keeps head well. Fruit beers are traditional 'starter' beers in belgium. this one was so sugary that after rinsing the glass there was still sugar crystals left in it. hmm, raspberry.
2) Oud Beersel Kriek - this cherry beer had a cordial smell, but not as sweet or smooth as the Fram. it had very little head, but surprisingly had a chuppa chup taste in it.
3) De Kninck Blonde (6.5%) - This Antwerp beer was clear yellow but sulphur smell. found it a bit winey and sour and quite dry. mind you, i did get the dregs of the bottle.
4) Caulier Bon Secours Ambree - Caramel smell with a spicey taste, light bodied and frothy. definite belgium flavour coming through
5) Caulier Bon Secours Blonde - sulphur smell. cloudy yellow with froth. slight sting of alcohol maybe, as blonde taste cannot mask it.
6) Bavik De Brabandere Petrus Dubbel Bruin - yes, there was a bit of excitement when i saw this beer. starts well with a slight choc smell in a frothy clear brown beer. taste of alcohol but was smooth, but not a lot going on taste-wise
7) Brouwerji Strubbe Keyte Ostens Belegeringsbier (do the names have to be this long?) - in the end similar to beer 3, but not so bad in aftertaste. beer title longer than it's description!
8) Oud Beersel Bersalis Kadet (4.2%) - described as a triple tasting beer but at half the alcohol, it had a sweeter smell with the spice of a triple in taste. found there the be a dry, slight hop (?) aftertaste.
9) Oud Beersel Bersalis Triple (9.5%) - malter, now here is the triple taste i have been looking for! slight alcohol aftertaste but blended with spice to mask
10) De Landtsheer Malheur 10 - frothy with clear yellow colour. slight sulphur smell. sweet with alcohol aftertaste.
11) De Landtsheer Malheur 12 - dark brow with sweeter smell. malt hit but killed by alcohol burn. has a bit of a barleywine character to it.
12) Caulier Bon Secours Brune - again with the sulphur but with a touch of malt. light brown colour with a dusty flavour.
13) Tenute Collesi Bionda Alter - served very cold. sweet sulphur smell.
14) " " " Ego - sulphur, cloudy lemon cordial/ginger beer colour. decent texture but not getting much flavour. pale ale-ish.
15) " " Ambrata Fiat Lux - Only slighty sulphur. malt but then goes a bit sour in the mouth. again, not much aftertaste.
16) " " Rossi Ubi (red beer) - nice malt nose with little head retention. still sulphur, still a bit sour but malt overcomes for a sweet aftertaste.
17) " " Nera Major - dark malt but with an alcohol smell. watery texture for such a beer - quite a bit delicate actually. not good after trying 16 beers before, but would be interesting to try again on a fresh palate.
18) Waterloo Triple Blonde 7 - sour smell with slight taste of it also, but still has decent ale texture to it.
19) " Double Dark 8 - Slight sour/sulphur smell. darker than 7 with more malt with alcohol aftertaste.
20) Bosteels Pauwel Kwak - Sweet! Caramel flavour but alcohol overpowers.
21) Westmalle Triple - sulphur in smell and taste. spiced with a alcohol taste (duh, it's a tripel [yes, I did write that at the time]).
Overall, frothy heads, sulphur smells/tastes and not as much malt as i would have expected, did bring down my expectations of bold malty beers for my trip to belgium, but of course enjoyed the fruit beers and those beers with enough malt to take away the sulphur i kept getting. fave brewer overall was Oud Beersel for well-rounded beers. like the choc and caramel in a few of them, mostly the Kwak, and would like to try the Nera Major again. Still, was able to meet Peter afterwards with my belgium beer book to ask him questions in breweries over there and get his contact for further hassling. For $10, a dead-set bargain.
Looking forward to the next beer tasting at Slowbeer for barrel aged beers. hmmmm. stay tuned for that one
PS: not that this should be a side note, but Stass and I have just bottled a raspberry stout using a standard cooper's stout with a raspberry sauce stass has a recipe for. as it's sort of an original for us, am putting up the name BARADAO for it (Black And Red And Drunk All Over). upon bottling, the raspberry is very present (seeing we put in the sauce a day before bottling) but has that slight dusty/yeasty coopers malt in aftertaste. hoping in the bottle it blends a bit more, and next time maybe using a dark ale, and not a coopers. still, we will let you know how it goes in a couple of weeks.