Last year I spent Easter in Belgium. I blogged at the time about taking a clutch of Kernel beers for tasting and the trepidation of introducing these beer lovers (and connoisseurs in the truest sense) to some of London’s best offerings.
A year on and I’m here in Western Australia wondering what they’d think of Raging Flem. From the Feral Brewing Co’s new Brewpub Series I was sent a sample which arrived hours before the trip to the South West. The label tells me to treat it like milk, to keep it refrigerated. They’re serious about their cold storage at Feral and I was worried that it’s trip to me and then down south may have an effect.
It’s pitched as combing the traditional ferment driven Belgian style with the new world movement for floral American hops to create a blend of new and old… brewed using a mixed bag of specially selected Australian and European malts, a truck load of American Hops including Amarillo, Cascade and Chinook with a special addition of Belgium candy sugar to round out a unique brew.
The verdict? Well I didn’t have any Belgians, on hand but did have present a Dutchman, a Mediterranean and an Honorary Belgian (with a keen palate for Flemish beers). The panel like the beer is a bit of a bitsa. It takes those brewing styles and mashes and melds them together. The result a resounding success. It’s a bold IPA, those hops coming through loud and clear but has a degree of subtlety which I guess is driven by the malt and that candy sugar. I’m thinking this would be a winner for my real Belgian panel but they’re unlikely to see it make the trip to Europe. Stocks of the series are limited at present to trusted suppliers of Feral. There’s more to come from the Brewpub Series so keep your eyes peeled.
From my last few posts you’d know that I spent Easter in Belgium. I realised this morning that i’d not made any comments about the beers I’d most enjoyed apart from the odd Tweet amidst the bottles. One of the first things our hosts did as we arrived was ask when we wanted to go to the beer shop. At this point they didn’t know of my love of beer – just Lou’s – and I knew at this point the weekend was going to be a success.
First up is the two Blonds. Wolf 7 from Lupus Brewery and Omer from Bockor Brewery. I’m not inclined usually to a Blond (in beer or in life). These two were new to me, a favourite of our host and probably the preferred by the table if the empties were anything to go by. I hope to see them in London soon.
Prearis Quadruple from De Proef Brewery. Possibly the most surprising of the three. Dark, malty and with a little sweetness, it’s potent at 10% but not too thick for my tastes. It was crowned best hobby beer of Belgium in 2011 and now brewed by De Proef a contract brewer. The thought that a hobby beer club can produce this is a real eye opener.
It’s only a small selection. Here are a few that are worth a picture.
As a footnote, if you find yourself in Kortrijk, without the benefit of a Belgian family to provide amazing hospitality, head to Gains Bar a great spot with outdoor seating and an amazing beer list.
I last wrote about the trepidation of taking beer to the Belgians; and more specifically Kernel IPA. Who wouldn’t like a bottle of anything from The Kernel?
After a short intro of The Kernel by Lou, where she talked about the origins of the brewery, the brewer, the beer and the brown paper labels (she is slightly obsessive about paper) the appreciation began.
The bottle was held, label read, held to the light. There were positive nods. A knot in my stomach unravelled. Glassware selected the beer was opened, poured, held to the light, nosed and eventually tasted. The verdict? A smile. A nod. Another sip. Another smile. Another nod. Mission accomplished.
It seems that I’ve set the bar quite high. When I next see “the Belgians” it will be on home turf in London. What to introduce next?
After a Christmas where any TV choice was dictated by a Ben 10 obsessed 3 year old it was a welcome change to return home and see what the V+ box had in store. Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar seemed like the most appealing offering but in televisual terms proves that the bar tends to be quite low these days. The format is the well worn travel mission where our hosts supposedly showcase the best of what’s on offer with a challenge in the last programme of running their own bars: for one night only that is. It’s laboured, gimmicky TV which relies on stereotypes and a scattergun approach to content. It leaves me asking: why can’t we be more like the Belgians! Yes that’s right the Belgians. Stay with me.
Such was my despair I went to the fridge, reached into the bottom shelf and cracked open a bottle of Tournee Generale. Quite possibly the only beer created as part of a TV show (of the same name) and sold commercially? Now i’m sure I may be corrected at this point, but its the only one I know of. And yes you guessed it. It’s Belgian. The result is Tournee Generale (6.5%). It’s a cloudy, amber beer, with a creamy head and a definite Coriander taste and smell. It’s not a classic but is more than drinkable. In some ways, the fact that its brewed (by Duvel Moortgat) as a result of a TV show is its most interesting characteristic
For those who remember MTV in the 90s, when it was about the music and not awful teen reality, you’d recognise the shows co-host, Ray Cokes who is paired with Jean Blaute who you probably don’t. As the name suggests the series is a tour of brewers in search of the countries best with the objective of brewing a Speciale Belge. From what I’ve viewed so far it’s not the scattergun approach of our BBC equivalents; crediting the viewer with a little intelligence and as and added bonus there are no shots of a hungover Oz Clarke in his pants!
Here’s a taster! Interested to know what your views are on the treatment of beer in the mainstream media.
So we’ve all been there. It’s midweek, its wet and cold and almost everything that could go wrong, has, and that which hasn’t will doubtless be kicking you in the arse in the next few days. Christmas week should not be like this!
Perhaps sensing the cartoon rain (or perhaps snow) cloud that has been hanging over my head all week Lou hatched a very simple but effective plan involving Belgian beer and savoury snacks.
Before even opening the front door the smell of pastry and a good amount of cheese is wafting down the stairwell, and combatting the cloud. I will say at this point that there are many skills that I admire in the people in my life but the ability to read my mood and feed me accordingly is a skill that Lou has acquired above all others. I’m generally a grouch but more so when not sufficiently fed and watered. She has been known to counter my mood by saying “shut it, eat this “… seconds later the picture is different.
As I open the door the waft is now an enveloping blanket of cheese. At this point, without even knowing what’s cooking any thoughts of stress have disappeared. The source of this mood altering smell, Gougères; a sort of mini cheese puff made with choux pastry and stuffed with cheese. Hailing from Burgundy these French favourites are commonly served with a glass of bubbles. I’m not adverse to the odd glass of Champers but we don’t have any in the fridge. What we do have lurking in the deep recesses is some Lindemans Kriek. I’m not a big one for cherry beers (dare I say i’ve always considered it a drink for the ladies) but the sweetness and acidity of the Kriek is an ideal substitition for the Champagne and an ideal companion to the Gruyere laden pastry.
With the Gougères polished off, and the Kriek run dry, all is right with the world and Christmas week is back on track So in the spirit of Christmas and this Anglo-Franco-Belgian post… Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Zalig Kerstfeest.