Bon Beer Voyage gets Press Today

Ruth & Mike on a Bon Beer Voyage

Our new beer tour company Bon Beer Voyage  got in the news today.  Check out the links below to read all about it.

Palm Beach Post in the Money section

Sun Sentinel in the Boynton Beach online section

Draft Magazine

Click the link below to see our  Belgium Canal Boat Tour Brochure:

BBV Belgium Brochure updated jan2010

Click the link below to see our  Tampa Tour Brochure:

Tampa Beer Safari March 2010

Beer # 68 Bruery Rugbrød

 
 

The Bruery's Rugbrød

Name: Rugbrød

Style:  Rye Beer

Brewery: The Bruery website

Country: USA

Region:  Placentia, California

ABV: 8.0%

How served: 750ml capped bottle poured into a Delirium Tremens glass.     

My Overall Opinion: Very Good.

I paired this beer with: a good Stilton cheese.

Tasted on:  Wednesday January 27, 2010.

Note:  This is a beer worth trying, but don’t be upset if you can’t find it.  It was very drinkable and I gave it a high rating, as it is very good for its style, but it is not an Oh My G-d beer.  This is a beer to be enjoyed & will not overwhelm or underwhelm you.

On the Label: Unfiltered Bottle-Conditioned. Julebryg-Style Dark Rye Ale.  A deep autumn colored robust Danish-style ale with spicy rye, and caramelly, bready malts. Rugbrød Rye ale is suitable for aging up to two years when cellared properly, around 55° f (13° c) in a dark place. Best served at 50° f (10° c).  Pour carefully, leaving the yeast sediment behind in the bottle.  Best served in a tulip or wine glass.  For proper pronunciation, chef recommended food pairing and recipes, please visit our website. 

From their website:  Meaning “rye bread” in Danish, we took our inspiration for this beer from the Danes’ staple dark, whole-grain rye bread. Brewed with three types of rye malt, this robust brown ale showcases the earthy, spicy character of the grain, complemented by bready, nutty barley malts and a hint of roast. Loosely based on the Scandinavian Christmas beer or “Julebryg” tradition, this beer is perfect for the colder weather of winter, although it will be available year-round (because who doesn’t love a dark beer now and again, regardless of weather?) And don’t worry about the name, we can’t pronounce it either! But we do have a video of us and a lot of others trying our best at http://www.vimeo.com/7504797.

ABV: 8%, IBU: 30, SRM: 18, Release: Limited Year Round

 Love Great Beer?  Join Us on a Bon Beer Voyage Beercation! www.BonBeer.com  

Beer #67 Big Barrel Double IPA

Karl Strauss Big Barrel Double IPA

Name: Big Barrel Double IPA

Style:   Double IPA

Brewery: Karl Strauss Breweries website

Country: USA

Region:  San Diego, California

ABV: 9.0%

How served: 22oz capped bomber poured into a Stone Levitation glass.     

My Overall Opinion: Amazing.

I paired this beer with: A full rack of Baby Back Ribs with a spicy barbeque sauce.  It was great pairing this DIPA with these ribs and its spicy/tangy barbeque sauce.  Too bad I didn’t enough for a second helping.   

Tasted on:  Thursday January 21, 2010.

Note:  Of the 2 Big San Diego Double IPA’s I’ve had this week, I liked the Dorado a hair more.  With that said this as still an amazing brew with a great aroma and a very balanced hoppy taste. 

On the Label: Karl’s Coastal Reserve:  To kick off this series of intense hoppy beers, we wanted to go big.  Imported New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops provide a vibranttropical aroma that raises eyebrows and expectations.  Aggressive amounts of Warrior and Ahtanum hops produce an assertive bitterness that stands out against a firm malt backbone.  Balanced even at 90 IBU’s, Big Barrel leaves a considerable first impression that serves as a prelude of things to come.

From their website:  

Big Barrel Double IPA is an intense West Coast IIPA for hop lovers. Abundant imported New Zealand hops give this medium-bodied ale fruity citrus and white grape-like flavors over a firm maltiness. It finishes dry with a lingering bitterness.

STATS:
Alcohol by Volume: 9%
Color: 15.4 SRM
Bitterness: 90 IBU

Availability: Limited Release in October 2009 in kegs and 22oz. Bottles. First of the Karl’s Coastal Reserve Series

Beer #66 Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA

Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA

Name: Dorado Double IPA

Style:   Double IPA

Brewery: Ballast Point Brewing Company website

Country: USA

Region:  San Diego, California

ABV: 9.1%

How served: 650ml (22oz) capped bottle poured into a Duvel glass.     

My Overall Opinion: Amazing.

I paired this beer with: Homemade vegetable soup, tomato based with shrimp, scallops & tilapia.   

Tasted on:  Monday January 18, 2010.

Note:  This is my second different beer from Ballast Point Brewing, the other being Sculpin IPA.  Both were simply amazing.  I could drink this beer anytime, anywhere & pair it with most meals.  This bottle is  a few months old, so it might have lost some of its “hop” bite, which might have made it more balanced.   If you haven’t tried this beer yet & it’s available where you live, BUY IT & enjoy. 

On the Label: Robust Series* Limited Release.

“On a quest to make delicious beers, our brewers have continually sought out creative new ways to accentuate the delightfully aromatic and flavorful qualities of hops. Hopheads rejoice!  Dorado Double IPA takes hops to a new level. Marsh Hopping, First Wort Hopping, Kettle Hopping and Dry Hopping, create an award winning beer that embodies San Diego’s reputation for making world class IPAs.  Our bottled Robust Series gives all beer lovers an opportunity to try our most rare beers, previously available only on draft at select tap houses. Enjoy!  Get the Point!  World Beer Cup 2006 Bronze Metal Winner.”

Beer Travels in Belgium Part 3

This is the 3rd installment of our Beery Adventures in Belgium.  We visited Bruges, Gent, Mechelen, Antwerp & Brussels over 7 days, meeting with vendors for our beer tour company BonBeerVoyage.comDuring our whirlwind week, we were able to visit over 50 beer related places and tried over 50 beers. 

This entry focuses on the 3rd day of the trip.  We finished our time in Bruges by visiting 3 more bottle shops, 3 more beer bars, a gourmet chocolate shop and a cigar shop which serves beer in its backroom bar.    

The 1st bottle shop of the day was de Bier Tempel  (7 Philipstockstraat). 

de Bier Tempel

A short walk from Cambrinus (see below) heading towards the Grote Market, you will spot this bottle shop on the right side of the street.   They have a nice section of beers as well as glassware at competitive prices. I wasn’t planning to buy any beer today, but when I spied a bottle of Rodenbach Vin de Céréale, I couldn’t resist.  It is a Flanders Red Ale at 10% abv, which was only bottled once.  Since I was already going to make a purchase, I also picked out a bottle of Catherine The Great, which is brewed by Brouwerij Smisje.  It is a Belgium Imperial Stout, aka Foreign/Export Stout and is 10.0% abv.  

Catherine The Great & Vin de Céréale

De Kuppe

De Dolle Oerbier

It was still early in the day, but not too early for a beer, so we walked to De Kuppe (19 Kuipersstraat) as I knew they opened early.  As the sign says on the window, they have about 100 beers to choose from including De Dolle Oerbier, my choice for that morning.   Oerbier is a Belgium Strong Dark Ale at 9.5% abv. brewed by De Dolle Brouwers.

Since it was only around 11:30 am on a Monday, not too many other bars were open. We took a chance and walked 4 ½ blocks to ‘t Poatersgat (82 Vlamingstraat), but they were closed.

't Poatersgat

‘t Poatersgat is a cellar bar, with a stellar beer list!!!  They have over 100 beers to choose from. Although we didn’t have the chance to enjoy it this time, the inside is a lot larger than you might expect from looking at the door.  It is like a large cave with very tall ceilings.  Since it is just outside the “main” section of town, it usually is not as crowded with tourists.

After seeing ‘t Poatersgat closed,  we then looked across the street to see that De Zolder (53 Vlamingstraat), was also closed.  This is a fairly new place and like ‘t Poatersgat is located in a cellar setting.   They have about 60 different beers to choose from on their menu.

Since we were striking out on our beer hunting expedition, we decided to try another bottle shop and then head out to find the most unique chocolate shop in town.

Bacchus Cornelius

Bacchus Cornelius

We walked around the corner from ‘t Poatersgat to get to Bacchus Cornelius (17 Academiestraat).   This is a very upscale bottle shop, with has a very comfy sitting area with a fireplace in the back room.  They carry over 450 different beers as well as glassware.  We ended up buying Advokaat which is a thick yellow pudding like liquor.  It is a blend of egg, sugar and brandy; it is very delicious and is 22% abv.  You can eat it with a spoon like a pudding or pour it over ice cream.

Off of Steenstraat is  a square called Simon Stevinplein.  In this square you will find both  Jerry’s Cigar Bar (13 Simon Stevinplein) and The Chocolate Line ( 19 Simon Stevinplein).

Jerry's Cigar Bar

In Jerry’s Cigar Bar you can find cigars, if one indulges in such, and about 13 beers or other  apéritifs which can be enjoyed in the bar in the back of the shop or on the square.

The real treat to be found on Simon Stevinlpein is The Chocolate Line 

The Chocolate Line

In  The Chocolate Line you will find the most amazing chocolate shop.  Even Keith Richards has shopped here. They have a very unique line of chocolates, including some made with basil, sun dried tomato and olive oil! Yes, it sounds bizarre, but somehow it works.

2be front entrance

2be's Great Wall of Beer

The largest bottle shop in town is 2be (53 Wollestraat).   This is an extremely large shop.  On display between the front entryway and the bar in the back you will see the “Wall of Beers”.  This is an amazing display of almost all the beers of Belgium with the matching glassware, a real must see for beer geeks.   On the top floor of the shop you have many different chocolates and other Belgian specialties including some of their beer collection.  Downstairs you will find the rest of this huge beer selection with appropriate glasses for sale next to their respective beers.  

2be back porch at night

In the back you have an inside bar and an outside area overlooking the canal to have a beer. It is especially atmospheric in the evenings or on a nice afternoon…or anytime, heck you are in the most beautiful city in Belgium, drinking the best there is to offer, what more could you ask for?  

Bierbrasserie Cambrinus

Bierbrasserie Cambrinus

One of the best places in town to grab a great lunch with a huge selection of beers to choose from is Bierbrasserie Cambrinus  (19 Philipstockstraat).  At Cambrinus you will find a beer menu which has over 400 beers and a food menu full of cuisine a la bière.

Bierbrasserie Cambrinus

Gulden Draak

Ruth and I both had their Flemish Carbonades, which is a beef stew prepared with Gulden Draak and served with applesauce.   I paired mine with a Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait, this was a 2004 vintage and is brewed by Brouwerij Boon , this Gueuze is 8.00% abv.   Ruth had the Gulden Draak, which one of her favorite beers.  Gulden Draak is a Belgium Strong Dark Ale and brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Mariage Parfait

Mariage Parfait

Next in this series we will explore what Gent has to offer…stay tuned!

Beer # 65 New Belgium La Folie

 

New Belgium La Folie

Name: La Folie, Lips of Faith

Style:   Flanders Red Ale 

Brewery: New Belgium Brewing Inc.  website 

Country: USA 

Region:  Fort Collins, Colorado 

ABV: 6.00% 

How served: 22oz capped bottle poured into a Rodenbach Alexander glass.      

My Overall Opinion: Very Good.   

I paired this beer with: Publix lemon pepper rotisserie chicken.   

Tasted on:  Wednesday January 13, 2010. 

Note:  This is a 2009 vintage.  In 2009 New Belgium change the bottle from a 750ml corked and caged bottle to a 22oz capped bottle. I personally like the presentation of corked and caged bottle over the capped one, but it’s really the taste of the beer than counts.  Well the taste lives up to the label as it is really mouth puckering.  AS mouth puckering as this beer is, it is very drinkable and refreshing. This bottle, in my opinion, tasted better than the one I opened about 6 months ago.  As typical with the style, the beer improves with age, and this was no exception.  I have a few more bottles and will try the 2009 again in 6 months to see if it is still improving.  

On the Label: Seriously sour, this Flanders-style reddish brown ale was fermented 1-3 years in French oak barrels for mouth puckering perfection. 

From their website:   La Folie Wood-Aged Biere, is our original wood-conditioned beer, resting in French Oak barrels between one and three years before being bottled. . Peter Bouckaert, came to us from Rodenbach – home of the fabled sour red. Our La Folie emulates the spontaneous fermentation beers of Peter’s beloved Flanders with sour apple notes, a dry effervescence, and earthy undertones. New in 2010, we’ll do a single bottling of La Folie for the year. Collect the 22oz unique to 2010 designed bottle and start a yearly wood-aged collection of goodness. 

Chef Todd Davies, Partner of Tap House Grill, recommends:

Wild mushroom crusted Colorado Lamb Rack / Cipollini puree, polenta,raindow chard, natural lamb reduction.  The almost gastrique-like sour cherry finish pairs perfectly with the gaminess of the lamb (think the barrels, woody, tannic). The sweetness of the caramalized cipolinis complements both.  Bitterness of swiss chard takes the sour home, while the earthy mushrooms cut through some of the tartness, and the polenta / jus carries the robust flavors while still allowing the beer to shine through. 

Melissa Newell, Owner of Terroir Restaurant, recommends:

This sour brown ale, with hints of cherry and other tree fruit, I would pair with a bitter and acidic dish to start. For a starter course, I would pair this with a grilled radicchio salad (grilled treviso radicchio, blue cheese crumbles, dried cherries, toasted walnuts, and a balsamic vinaigrette). Many times, when acid is paired with acid, the result is sweet. The tang and richness of the cheese, along with the bitterness of the greens, with the acidity of the vinegar make this a complementary pairing. For a main course, you can go with either a rich fish with a cream based lemony sauce (pan roasted halibut with a lemon cream sauce) or with a red meat (braised lamb shank with red wine reduction over fingerling potatoes). The idea is to pair the fat of the sauce (or the meat) with the acidity of the beer…it will cut right through it. Think rich sides also. In this case, the richness of the fingerlings, compared to other potatoes is a must. For dessert, again, think rich and indulgence. Something mouth coating. Try a semifredo (a semi-frozen Italian dessert made with one part meringue and one part whipped cream) flavored with bing cherries. This is one versatile beer.

Derek Kennedy, Cheese Aficionado, recommends:

 Follow your folly straight to a guffaw of an idea by pairing this enigma of a wood-aged sour with Brindamour, a French (sometimes Corsican) goat and sheep’s milk cheese covered and aged with herbs. The dry body of the goat/sheep combo will be a perfect contrast to the sour parts of the beer leading you to fits of spontaneous laughter and hilarity.

Lauren Salazar, our sensory specialist, recommends:

 Aperitif or digestif – perfect solution for any sour beer!

Michael McAvena, Beer Director at The Publican, recommends:

My favorite pairing so far with New Belgium’s La Folie; our house-made rillettes composed of duck and pork cooked with white wine and brandy, left to solidify then garnished with pickled rhubarb and sparkle strawberries served with toasted sourdough.

This is a classic complimentary and contrasting pairing during which neither the food nor the drink looses face, rather one makes the other better. The complex and at times intense woodsy acidity of the beer is softened by the richness of the rillettes, yet it is still able to slice right through the creaminess of the fat and lift the heaviness off the palate. Meanwhile, La Folie echoes the tart flavors of the pickled strawberries and rhubarb which are heightened by the fruity gaminess of the duck.

 

The toasted sour dough also plays in this interaction as the crispy, caramelized crust shares a harmonious note with the caramel over tones in the beer and brings out a slightly toasted note shared by both. The bread, being a medium for the rillettes also acts as a sponge that bring the beer and fat beautifully together. Each bite warrants another sip and with each sip I want another bite. It’s almost as if the beer was made for the dish or the dish for the beer.  La Folie is quite mature yet wildly youthful, it’s got guts but remains subtle and complex; it’s a true pleasure to drink and an even greater pleasure to have at the table. Check it out.

Beer Travels in Belgium Part 2

This is the 2nd in the series of our review of our recent trip to Belgium.  We visited Bruges, Gent, Mechelen, Antwerp & Brussels over 7 days, meeting with vendors for our beer tour company BonBeerVoyage.com.  During our whirlwind week, we were able to visit over 50 beer related places and tried over 50 beers. 

This entry focuses on our 2nd day of the trip, while we were in Bruges.  On this day we visited 1 bottle shop, 5 bars, 1 brewery & finished the night off dining in an award winning restaurant known for their cuisine a la bière.

Bruges has many bottle shops to buy beer & beer related glassware, today we visited The Bottle Shop (Wollestraat 13).

The Bottle Shop

The Bottle Shop

The Bottle Shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bottle Shop has a very large selection of beers to choose from and a very good assortment of glassware.  Above I have shown only 3 of the many walls of beer.   If you do buy here, they do a great job of packing up your beer/glassware safely, which is key if you plan on packing it in your checked in luggage. 

On Breidelstraat, the street connecting the Burg & the Grote Market, there is a very small alley way (De Garre) which leads to 2 bars.  You can very easily walk right by if you’re not paying attention.  You’ll spot what looks like a doorway and has the word Cookie’s written on the glass pane above the alley entrance.

Alley to de Garre

Chalkboard for Garre and Cookies

          In the very back of this alleyway is Cookie’s (2 De Garre).  If you are in the mood for tapas, hot or cold, stop in for a bite and maybe even a beer.  The beer menu is very limited, they had 4 beers on tap (Jupiler, Keizer Karel Blond, Brugse Zot Blond & Brugse Zot Bruin & 8 bottle beers, nothing which you can’t find back in the USA, Duvel, Tripel Karmeliet, Orval, Chimay blue, Westmalle dubbel & tripel and Rochefort 10, all bottles were 3.50 euro except for Rochefort which was 4.80 & the Mystic Kriek at 2.30.

Character in Staminee De Garre

The gem in this alley is Staminee De Garre (1 De Garre).  It is a little bar, with a very nice atmosphere and 135 bottled beers.  If you’re lucky, you might run into the guy in the top hat (above), who was whistling songs.  If it is crowded downstairs, head up the narrow staircase to a larger room upstairs.  If you’re only going to have 1 beer, the beer to try here is the House Tripel, which is brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge.  It is a Tripel and 8% abv and you will not be disappointed!  They serve your beer with a small plate of cheese.

@ The Pub

@ The Pub menu

The closest bar to the Belfry (Belfort) Tower is @ The Pub (4 Hallenstraat).  They have a nice selection of about 100 beers. See menu above. In @ the Pub you have 2 seating areas inside- as you enter to the left is the bar area and to the right is a lounge area.  If the weather is nice you can sit outside and enjoy your beer as well.

Eetcafe Leopold

Leopold beer / liquor menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eetcafe Leopold (26 ‘t Zand) is located across from the tourist information office.  Besides having 8 different types of Croque’s, which are very tasty, they have a fairly nice beer list of about 40 bottles.

3 Tripels & a Bruin

Shown above are 4 of them, Kasteel Bruin, Kasteel Tripel, Westmalle Triple & Tripel Karmeliet.   The notices written (in Dutch, French & German respectively) on the cigar sign translate to: smoke is deadly, smoke kills & smoke is deadly. 

De Halve Maan entrance

2 beers available at De Halve Maan

Brouwerij De Halve Mann / Brouwerij Straffe Hendrik (26 Walplein).  This is the only brewery within Bruges.  It is less than a half mile walk from the train station.  They give a guided tour of the brewery and museum which last about 45 minutes and cost 5.50 euros.  It is a very entertaining tour and in the museum you will see among other things a huge collection of old metal beer cans and vintage beer glasses.  The tour is well worth the price of admission, plus it includes a tasting of Bruges Zot.

Straffe Hendrik Tripel

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brugse Zot, was poured from the tap.  It is a Belgium Pale Ale and is 6.0%abv.

Straffe Hendrik Brugs Tripel Bier, is a 9% abv Tripel.

't Brugs Beertje

't Brugs Beertje

‘t Brugs Beertje (5 Kemelstraat) is just 250 yards from the Grote Market off Steenstraat.  It is my favorite bar in Bruges.  Not only do they have a fantastic beer menu, but the service is great and it is a wonderful place to meet and mingle with locals and other beer enthusiasts.  We only had time to stop by and say hello to Daisy, the owner and have 1 beer, which was Gouden Carolus Noël.  This is a Belgium Strong Dark Ale of 10.5% abv and is brewed by Brouwerij Het Anker

Den Dyver Gold Award 2009

For dinner we went to Den Dyver  (5 Dijver) which is known for its cuisine a la bière.  They received the 2009 Gold Medal Beer & Gastronomy Award from Bierpassie, Ambiance Magazine & Maxwell Williams.   At Den Dyver you have the choice of ordering a la carte or choosing from their 3, 4 or 5 course menus.  The 3, 4 or 5 course meals can be paired with either beer or wine and are actually cooked in the paired beer.   My wife had the 3 course meal & beer pairing & I went for the 4 course.

hopped up champagne & house pale ale

We started off with an aperitif, mine was the House Pale Ale, unknown abv & brewer.  Ruth had the house aperitif, which was a hopped up champagne.

Blanche de Hainaut Biologique

Struise Rosse

            For appetizers, I had the swordfish steak with an anchovy crust which was paired with Blanche de Hainaut Biologique, a Witbier  with a5.5% abv.  This was brewed by Brasserie Dupont sprl.  Ruth had the duck confit which was paired with Struise Rosse, vintage 2007, 6.0% abv.  This is a Belgian Pale Ale brewed by De Struise Brouwers.  Both were perfect pairings.

Westmalle toast

For the main course we both had the duck paired with the Westmalle Tripel, which is a Tripel with a 9.5% abv.  This is brewed by Adbij der Trappsten van Westmalle (Brouwerij Westmalle).  The Westmalle was a good match for the duck.

Het Kapittel Pater & Bink Winterkoninkske

For dessert, my wife had an assortment of cheese which was paired with Het Kapittel Pater brewed by Brouwerij Van Eccke, it is a Belgian Dark Ale,6.00 % abv.  As usual, the beer was a great pairing for the cheese-and Ruth wondered “Why did we ever waste time pairing wine with cheese in the past?”

I had a pear strudel with Fourme d’ ambert, a French cheese which was paired with Bink Winterkoninkske, Belgium Dark Strong Ale with an 8.3%abv made by Brouwerij Kerkomj. This was an incredible combination, probably the highlight of the evening.

To end the evening of beer and food bliss I had a fig cake with almond cream.

The service was excellent. The son of the owner is the beer/wine sommelier, and presented each beverage with an explanation and a proper pour.  There were separate waiters and bus people, so we were very well taken care of.  The atmosphere is upscale yet relaxed. We are looking forward to returning with our tour group in October.

Coming up next in this series we will finish our time in Bruges by visits to 3 more bottle shops, 3 more beer bars, a gourmet chocolate shop and a cigar shop which serves beer in its backroom bar. Then we’ll head off to Gent.

Beer Travels in Belgium Part 1

We just returned from Belgium after spending 7 days meeting with vendors for our beer tour company Bon Beer Voyage (www.bonbeer.com). We visited Bruges, Gent, Mechelen, Antwerp & Brussels.  Since our visit was between Christmas and New Year’s most of the breweries were closed, however we were still able to visit over 50 beer related places and tried over 50 beers.  We also obtained information to share with you about the prices and beer lists from 26 pubs.This will be a multiple part series as I have too much information to share with you.  Over the next few days I will be posting the many beer encounters we had and will try to break it down into small chunks.Part I will review the 1st  day of our trip & our “quietest” day in which we had only 3 beer related visits and 7 beers including a tasting  of what could possibly be a 40+ years old Westvleteren Extra 8. 

Our plane landed in Brussels about 8am.  We cleared customs and picked up our luggage quickly.   Hopped on the 1st express train we saw to Brussels, 16 minutes later we arrived at the Nord train station.  We switched trains & arrived in Bruges a little more than an hour later.  The Bruges train station was only a 15 walk to our hotel which was by the Grote Markt, but we decided to take a cab due to our luggage.  So less than 3 hours after landing in Brussels, we were safely in our hotel ready for our Belgium Beer Adventure

Our 1st planned stop of the day was a visit to In De Vrede, the café attached to the Abdij Sint-Sixtus aka Westvleteren.  Without a car the best way to get there from Bruges would be to take the train to Poperinge via a change of train in Kortrijk. The trip will take you between 1hr 30 min to 1hr 54 min depending on the train schedule.  Then you have a short 6 km journey to the Abbey, either by bicycle, Belbus (a bus you would need to call a few hours before) or walk.  Fortunately for us, a “beery good” friend in Bruges offered to drive us.   He and his wife picked us up at our hotel.  We exchanged Christmas gifts; I got him 2 bottles from Cigar City,  Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout Humidor Series Jai Alai Cedar Aged IPA plus one Cigar City tasting glass.  He in turn got me 2 fresh bottles of Westvleteren 12 & one very special EXTRA 8 to taste (see video below). 

It was a little less than an hour drive to reach the Abbey from Bruges.  We first stopped to look at the building where the beer “crates” are distributed.  Since it was a Saturday, no Westvleteren beers were for sale.  Before the monks began having people call to reserve a time to pick up your beer, there used to be days where a line of cars  would stretch end to end up to 1.5 km long.  The wait to get your beer could be 6 hours or more and if you were lucky, you wouldn’t go home empty handed.     

In De Vrede

  Here is In De Vrede, this is where you can sample the Westvleteren blonde, 8 and 12. They usually allow you to purchase beer here in 6 packs, but again, on Saturdays, they won’t sell beer to “go”, as they need their stock for the café.  We are enjoying our Westvleteren Blonde, which is their Belgium Pale Ale and is 5.8% abv. at a cost of 3.50 euro.   I had this with the croque masion, which is a croque monsieur with a pineapple slice.    

  After we finished with the Blonde, we both went for the 12.  The Westvleteren 12 is a Quadrupel at 10.2% abv.  It looks like Ruth liked it!    

Here is the beer menu, 3 choices, all very good.  There has recently een a price increase; the Blonde is 3.50 euro, the 8 is 4.00 and the 12 is 4.50 euro.  All beers are poured from a bottle into their chalice glass before it presented to you at your table.    

Inside In De Vrede

    

     

      

       

   

   

   

    Above is a look at the inside In De Vrede, with an article boosting about them making the best beer in the world (no translation is need).   We also captured a photo of a “holy” monk.     

     Our next stop is to the town of Roeselare, home of Brouwerij Rodenbach, who is now owned by Brouwerij Palm.  We are here to taste Rodenbach’s Foederbier.   Foederbier is served only from a cask and is hand pulled into the glass.  It is unfiltered and unblended and is aged an average of 2 years in foeders (large wooden oak barrels).      

     

       

      

 The beer itself has no carbonation; it gets its head from the aerator on the hand pull.  Look at how long the head lasts.     

  Foederbier is served in only a couple of select cafés in Belgium, one of them being De Zalm, in Roeselare.   Foederbier is usually a little more tart then the Rodenbach Grand Cru, but this one was a little more on the sweet side of tart and delicious.   They say every vintage Foederbier taste different.       

        Foederbier’s taste is a cross between an Oud Bruin (oak aged brown) and a Flanders Red Ale.  It averages at 6% abv and cost 3.50 euros here.      

       We then headed to the town of Tielt to get some tapas and beer at Taverne (Tapasbar) Pado.      

       

Westvleteren Extra 8 poured by Dominiek

 

 Our 1st beer of the night is possibly (see below) a Westveleteren Extra 8 of over 40 years old.  Notice the word EXTRA on the rusty blue cap –not something you’ll find on their modern caps.

This beer had the taste & characteristics of a fine sherry or port wine.  Because of the notes of tobacco as well as the woodsy flavor, it was most likely aged in wooden barrels.  This lead us to believe that this bottle was made in 1968 or before because it is thought that the Saint Sixtus Abbey stopped using wooden barrels for aging their beers in or around 1968 and switched to using nothing but stainless steel barrels.  (However, the turnover to all stainless could have taken another 3-4 years.)  

Here is a video of the expert pouring.   (filmed by my unnamed friend)

    

BTW, the gentleman pouring this beer, Dominiek, is one of the owners of Tapasbar Pado.   This pub is one of maybe 2 dozen who earned the Orval Ambassadorship with the high distinction of Cum Laude from Orval in 2008. (notice his apron).  BTW although the beer WAS NOT purchased there, we were just fortunate enough to have it poured by this local expert.   For those of you who are curious, labels have not been used on the Westveleteren bottles since 1946.      

After we had whet our appetites with this gem,  we decided to sample:      

      

2003 Stille Nacht

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

          

The 2003 Stille Nacht from the Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers.  Notice on the bottom of the label is has a large 12%.  That was the last year they did that.  It’s 12% what?  Since it did not specify ABV or being 12% of anything they had to discontinue using this label.  In future years they placed the date it was bottled in that spot.  Stille Nacht is a Belgium Strong Ale, and this was indeed 12% abv.      

 

Keyte Dobbel-Tripel is made by Brouwerij StrubbeIt is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 9.20% abv.  This beer tasted and had the appearance of a Dubbel and the abv of a tripel, so maybe that’s how it got its name?      

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the 2nd Trappist beer of the evening, Orval.  It is made at the Brasserie d’ Orval S.A.  Orval is a Belgian Pale Ale and is 6.9% abv.  It has both a hoppy taste and a funky taste and because of that I find people either love it or don’t.  Notice the great creamy head on this beer after it was poured by an expert. This stayed on top like a serving of pudding!      

    Next we will explore the town of Bruges, with many more beery places and beers to be had.      Stay tuned for Part 2

Beer # 64 Damnation

Russian River Damnation

We just returned from Belgium after spending 8 days meeting with vendors for our beer tour company, Bon Beer Voyage (www.bonbeer.com) . We visited Bruges, Gent,  Antwerp, Mechelen & Brussels (yes, of course Westvleteren as well!)  Over the next few days I will be posting the many beer encounters we had- including  a tasting  of what could possibly be a 40+ years old Westvleteren 8.

This US version of a Belgium Strong Pale Ale held up well to what I had enjoyed in Belgium over the last 8 days, however it was not even close to the best beer I’ve tasted there.

Name: Damnation

Style:   Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Brewery: Russian River Brewing Company.  website

Country: USA

Region:  Santa Rosa, California

ABV: 7.75%

How served: 22oz corked and caged bottle poured into a Gulden Draak tulip glass.     

My Overall Opinion: Very Good.

I paired this beer with: Baked Macaroni.

Tasted on: Monday January 4, 2010.

Note:  This was batch # 041, which means it was brewed on 6/15/08 & bottled on 7/17/08.  Primary Yeast was Trappist Ale Yeast & Conditioning Yeast R.R.Wine 1.

On the Label: dam·na·tion, n 1. The act of damning. 2. The state of being condemned to eternal punishment in hell.

Damnation is refermented in this bottle to create its fine carbonation.  Spent yeast cells form a thin layer of sediment in the bottom of the bottle, adding more complexity and flavor.  Pour slowly, allowing the natural yeast sediment to remain in the bottle.

Overall this was a very tasty and refreshing beer & is very much recommended, however I felt it tasted better with 1 year aging vs. this one which I aged for almost 18 months.

 From their website:   In the great beer producing country of Belgium, some brewers have made it a tradition to give their beers an unusual name. Sometimes the name is curious, now and then it is diabolical and other times it is just plain silly. Damnation is our brewmaster’s interpretation of a Belgian style Strong Golden Ale. It has extraordinary aromas of banana and pear with mouth filling flavors of sweet malt and earthy hops. The lingering finish is dry and slightly bitter but very, very smooth.

7.0%ABV / 1.068 O.G / 25 BUs

Silver Medal, 2004 GABF (Belgian Style Ale Category)
Silver Medal, 2001 GABF (Belgian Style Ale Category)
Gold Medal, 1999 GABF (Belgian Style Ale Category)

Available Year Round in the pub, for distribution, and in 750mL cork finished bottles.

%d bloggers like this: