Sunday, September 5, 2010

Day 3 (Jaimi Faulkner Appreciation Day at the Belgian Beer Weekend): Brussels – Belgium

So Jaimi and I made our way back to the beer festival and managed to get some frites into us just before the gates opened and 80% of the people there went straight from the Trappiststein tent for the Westvlerten.

We were the second to be served so we were assured of getting it and the Rochefort 8 that we also missed out on yesterday. Both came from the bottle, so the Rochefort tasted the same as when I had had it previously, but it was the Westvlerten that I focused on. To be honest it is a pretty straightforward strong blonde beer, that while it doesn’t pull any punches with the alcohol, the only other flavour is from the blonde malt. This brings it across as a strong and stable beer with little aftertaste…Faulkner has nothing to add as he can’t pick the beer. Closest thing to a comment is that it reminds him of the Achel, which I did get with it’s slight citrus smell. As for his comment on the Rochefort, he feels it was too much in alcohol and flavour and is close to whiskey (can’t wait for him to try and 10 later on). Seeing it was 11am when we got in and these trappist beers are pretty strong, we decided to have one more beer before having lunch. I decided to make it a big one so we had the opportunity to cleanse the palate of it over lunch, so I went with the Scotch Silly. I was surprised and happy to see that we both felt it tasted similar to the scotch ale Stass and I made with the sweetness of brown sugar seeming to be in it. One issue that is continuing is the coldness of all the beers on offer. With beers like these, they need to be warmer, or the flavour ischanged and the alcohol spikes on the tongue.

Jaimi got into mussels while I hit a steak for lunch before heading back to the tents.

After the big morning I thought it best we get on some lighter beers, and with Faro’s in fashion for me at the moment, these were the perfect choice. The Lindeman’s I had tried before from the bottle was available on tap here, and again came out too cold for the delicate flavours of it. It was definitely sweeter on tap and only residual sourness was found after swallowing. Therefore it was not as delicate as I remember, but still gave the spritz and lovely sherberty sweetness when left to warm on the tongue. The other faro was from Chapeau and was darker in colour and fruiter in flavour. The sweetness of the beer overcomes any sourness that may be in the beer from its lambic fermentation. Therefore it wasn’t as delicate as the Lindeman’s but like this one the Chapeau Faro does sweeten up if left on the tongue to warm. A most pleasing find with these beers.

Keeping with the light fruit type of beers, Jaimi was feeling the need for chocolate, and luckily enough there was one available, so we hit that tent for a Floris Chocolat and a Floris Honey. Jaimi didn’t seem to mind the chocolate, but as soon as I tasted it realized they used chocolate essence and not real cocoa, so it spikes with oversweetness before disappearing. It actually smelled of nutela. The honey was similar with a very light body and artifical sweetness to it that ends slightly tart. With things starting to go downhill a bit, I tried what I thought would be blockbusters to get us through with a Buffalo Belgian Stout and Van den Bossche Kerst Pater (Christmas beer that I had heard had chocolate as a flavour). Of course the later went to jaimi and I had the stout. The Kerst had similar nutela smell as the Floris Chocolat but had a malt backbone to give it a bit more in body and flavour.

The Stout was watery and had little interesting malt characteristics. Both of us were disappointed with them both. At this stage I tried again to pull out something big and so grabbed a Malheur Dark Brut. While it had a fair bit of alcohol flavour it held itself together ok, but not enough to get us out of the slump. So we decided to get out of the crowd and gain get something to eat. We ended up having Pho which was ok, but didn’t do much for me.

We had planned on heading back for two more beers, but by then the lineup to get into the drinking area was long and it looked like some folks on the inside were stating to hit a certain level of drunkenness, so we stopped for a waffle and then a Rochefort 10, which I am drinking now as I made these notes in my new belgian beer weekend shirt. Jaimi agrees with me now that this is better than the 8, and needs warmth to help bring out the flavours. So we might try for a kip and then hit a bar nearby for one or two more beers before our final day at the Belgium beer weekend. I think I may have broke Jaimi a little bit and I am pretty cosy with my beer consumption, whereas he is feeling it a bit more.

Some things both Jaimi and can have definitely agreed on is that European girls have good cheekbones and look like they actually enjoy beer, and that a resolution to come from Jaimi Faulkner Appreciation Day at the Belgium Beer Weekend is that I should make a potato bake with Bailey’s instead of cream.

I like both of these observations, and observing choads in the crowd of beer drinkers at this event.



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