Westvleteren 12 vs. St Bernardus Abt 12

The Battle of the Beers:   

Westvleteren 12 vs. St Bernardus Abt 12

Westvleteren 12 and St Bernardus 12

These 2 beers are made 5.2 miles apart from each other as the crow flies (for those who will have to use bike or a car, it’s about 9.2 miles).  It is said that St. Bernardus uses the same original recipe as Westvleteren, so what is the difference besides one is easy to find on the store shelves and the other for all practical purposes  you can only buy at its source in Westvleteren.  Let’s find out…

 Tale of the Tape:

 

Westvleteren 12

St Bernardus Abt 12

Brewery:

Brouwerij   Westvleteren

(Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)

Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Town

Westvleteren   Belgium

Watou Belgium

Style:

Quadruple

 

Quadruple

ABV:

10.2% abv

10.0% abv

Bottle   Date

Aug 2011

May 2011

Best   by Date

On Cap:     17.08.14

On Label:      31 05 16

BeerAdvocate Ranking (among beers with 1000+   reviews)

#2

#8

RateBeer Ranking

#1

#41

Cost:

$3.60

(8€ for a mixed 3 pack at the  Abbey with an exchange rate of $1.35 per 1€)

$4.79 

The single bottle price at my local Total Wine

How served:

11.2 oz capped bottle poured into a Westvleteren chalice

11.2 oz capped bottle poured into a

St. Bernardus chalice

My Initial Serving

Temperature:

45°F

(in the future I’ll wait for it to warm up before serving)

45°F

(in the future I’ll wait for it to warm up before serving)

Ideal Drinking

Temperature:

55°F

55°F

 In researching for an article about our upcoming tour to St. Bernardus my wife was surprised to learn that although Westvleteren is now using Westmalle’s yeast, St. Bernardus is apparently still brewing the original Westvleteren recipe with Westvleteren yeast…  So she came to think that if she’s lovin’ a Westy, is it really a Westy? or is St Bernardus the real Westy?  Confusing, for sure.  So all we could do was pull out a bottle of each of them…which was conveniently located in our Coke Machine, and do a blind tasting.  Life is rough sometimes, but we were willing to make the sacrifice in order to provide you, our readers and beer voyagers, with enlightenment.   

Westvleteren 12 & St Bernardus 12 bottles

St Bernardus 12 & Westvleteren 12 bottle caps

But we’ll get back to the tasting later. Meanwhile, here is the story behind St. Bernardus:

Located in Watou, in Western Flanders in the heartland of hops, is brewery St Bernardus. The land on which this brewery was built was originally owned by Trappist monks from the Mont de Cats Abbey in France, who had left France for safer ground in Belgium during an anti-clerical movement.  Here, on a farm they called “Refuge de Notre Dame de St. Bernard”, they produced cheese in order to sustain themselves. When things improved in France and the French monks left Belgium to go back home, the cheese production was continued by Mr. Evariste Deconinck, who gave the cheese the name St. Bernardus

Shortly after the Second World War, the nearby Trappist Monastery of St. Sixtus decided they did not want to brew commercially anymore, so they engaged in an agreement with Mr. Deconinck to brew their beers.  Initially, before the brewery building was completed, Mr. Deconinck made the cheese in the morning and used the same equipment to make beer in the afternoon!

The agreement between Deconinck and St. Sixtus was that the monks from St. Sixtus would brew beer inside the walls of their Trappist Monastery for their own consumption, for sales to the public at the gates of the Monastery and also for a few taverns whom were connected to the Monastery, while Mr. Deconinck of St. Bernardus would brew the St. Sixtus beer for commercial production.  This agreement was set for a period of 30 years. The beers were brewed at St. Bernardus with the help and original recipes of the master brewer of Westvleteren.

As they say, all good things must come to an end, and although the agreement was renewed over the years, it ended in 1992, when St. Sixtus decided not to renew.  This was because by that time, the Trappist Monasteries decided that the qualification ‘Trappistenbier’ could only be given to beers brewed inside the walls of a Trappist Monastery. At this point, the beers brewed at St. Bernardus began production under the name St Bernardus instead of the brand name St. Sixtus.  They also at that time added St Bernardus Tripel, to the existing Pater 6, Prior 8 & Abt 12, (which, incidentally, were all created by the brewmaster from Westvleteren based on the Westvleteren recipes).

As for the results of our tasting….well, although they’re both similar in appearance and taste to a degree, they were not the same.  There were different carbonation levels, different tastes as they warmed slightly, etc…

Appearance:

Westvleteren 12:  Pours a cloudy deep dark reddish brown with a few chunks floating in the glass. It had a one finger tan head and left a nice thin lace on the glass.

St Bernardus Abt 12: Pours a hazy dark reddish brown with a 1 finger creamy tan head and left a nice lacing on the glass.

AppearanceWinner:  Almost identical in appearance, but the edge goes to St. Bernardus.

Aroma:

Westvleteren 12:  The nose was initially muted and was sweet with hints of dried fruit (raisins/plums).  As this beer warmed up to about 55°F boy did it come alive with aroma!  The dark fruits intensified and I also picked up cheery, figs, caramel, licorice, chocolate and the alcohol poked through sherry like.

St Bernardus Abt 12: There was a rich malty sweetness with notes of caramel, dried dark fruits like raisins, figs and prunes as well as a hint of the alcohol.

Aroma Winner: Initially at the 45°F  pour, St. Bernardus had the advantage, but as it warmed up it was Westvleteren by a “nose” at the finish line.

Flavor: 

Westvleteren 12: The taste is very similar and as complex as the nose was, especially as it warmed to 55°F.   There were notes of caramel, dried raisins, prunes, figs, vanilla, sweet (but not too sweet) candy sugar, some licorice, a hint of cherries and a mild spiciness.

St Bernardus Abt 12: Starts off somewhat semi sweet with malt and caramel and peppery spice, then I picked up fruits like raisins, plums, dried cherries, figs, prunes and maybe a bit of toffee too. 

Flavor Winner: Similar in the flavor profile but not the same.  Like the Aroma, St. Bernardus lead at the beginning, but as it warmed up I enjoyed the Westvleteren more.

Mouthfeel:

Westvleteren 12: The mouthfeel is of medium creamy feel with a nice pleasant warmth from the 10.2% abv.

St Bernardus Abt 12: Medium-light to medium creamy body with a moderate and prickly carbonation level. A nice pleasant warmth from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel Winner:  This is where the beers had their biggest difference.  I was distracted by the prickly carbonation level of St. Bernardus, so the winner here is Westvleteren.

Drinkability:

Westvleteren 12: This was a very drinkable brew and I’m tempted to open another.

St Bernardus Abt 12: This was a very drinkable brew, especially given the 10% abv.

Drinkability Winner:  A virtual Tie, but I’ll give it to St Bernardus., for the ease of purchase.

My Overall Opinion:

Westvleteren 12: Amazing 

St Bernardus Abt 12: Amazing 

Overall Winner:  Westvleteren by a nose!

But what we think and taste will be different than your opinion.   And if you love one of these more than the other, or love them both equally, does it matter if you really know all the gory details behind it as long as you enjoy it? We can tell you this much… they are all good. And they are all even better when enjoyed at the source…while on Beercation

If you join us on our “Grand Crus to Farmhouse Brews- A Beercation Cruise through Belgium & France” October 27 to November 3, 2012 you  will have a chance to try both of these brews fresh at the “source” when we visit Brouwerij St. Bernardus and café In de Vrede at Brouwerij Westvleteren.  

In addition to the above we will also visit 9 other breweries including:

√ Brouwerij Rodenbach (meet the brewmaster himself- Rudi Ghequire and enjoy dinner in the brewery)

Chimay

Brasseries de l’Abbaye Des Rocs   

Brouwerij Van Eecke

Huisbrouwerij Sint Canarus

Brasserie St German (France)

Brasserie Bailleux  (France)

Brasserie Thiriez (France)

Bon Beer Voyage

Summary of the Oct 2010 BBV Belgium Beercation (Day 1)

Summary of the Oct 2010 Bon Beer Voyage Belgium Beercation  

Boarding the Iris

 Day 1 Saturday October 23rd   (BRUGES) 

Bruges

welcome aboard beer toast

We started off this beercation with (what else?) a welcome aboard beer toast. We toasted with a Wieckse Witte a Witbier at 5.00% abv, brewed by the now defunct De Ridder Brewery

Wieckse Witte

This toast was followed with a gourmet lunch in which our chef used this beer to prepare both the appetizer and the main meal, which was spectacular.

 After we had our whistles wetted and our stomachs satisfied, we headed off to visit In de Vrede, the pub at the Abbey Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren

All signs point to Abdij Sint Sixtus

In de Vrede

While in the café we all had a chance to try the Westvleteren 12, 8 & the Blonde.

In de Vrede bliss

The 3 Westvleteren's (the 12 the Blonde & the 8)

 The 12 is a Quadrupel at 10.20% abv,

The 8 is a Dubbel at 8.00% abv and

The Blonde is a Belgian Pale Ale at 5.80% abv. 

Cheers from Westvleteren

After tasting these world class beers, some of the group visited the Claustrum, which is an exhibition room where you can get a feel about a monk’s life in the abbey.   

We left In de Vrede and walked across the street to the Abbey. We found out that our timing was amazing, since that day, for the 1st time they would be selling 3 packs (one 12, one 8 & one Blonde) to the general public in the area where the cars usually pick up their crates of Westvleteren beer.   

Westvleteren 8 crates

Westvleteren price list

Normally you can only buy this beer either by the 6 pack at In de Vrede, if available, (and not on a Saturday, when we were there) or by the crate at the Abbey by making a reservation in advance by phone only.  So, to our delight we were able to purchase a few 3 packs from the monks along with some Westvleteren infused chocolates!

The Westvleteren 3 packs which were for sale

Westvleteren chocolate and beer to go!

(De Dolle Brouwers)

Our next stop was to the family owned brewery De Dolle Brouwers.   

Here we were 1st given a tour of the facilities and a history of the brewery by Mous, the 93 year old mother of the brewers.  

Mous giving a tour of De Dolle Brouwers

Mous tells us the story of the De Dolle beers

De Dolle Brouwers tour

After this very informative tour we got a chance to sample some of the beers.   

Else, the wife of Kris Herteleer, one of the 2 brother brewers, poured us a tasting of Oerbier and Arabier from the tap.  

Else describing how the Oerbier is made and how it should taste

Else shows us how to properly pour the beer

Else coaches Ruth on the proper pour

 

Else & Ruth toast to a successful pour of Oerbier & Arabier

 Oerbier is their flagship beer which is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9.5% abv.  

Arabier is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 7.0% abv.   

Bill enjoying his Oerbier

Bill & brewer Kris Herteleer discussing brewing techniques

De Dolle Tasting Room

Else & Maria model the proper “bar wear”

After tasting those 2 beers, we had a couple of surprises.  The 1st surprise was a chance to taste the Lichtervelds Blond.

 

Lichtervelds Blond

 Lichtervelds Blond is a Tripel at 9.0% abv and is made almost exclusively for the town of Lichtervelds. 

Else explained that 80% of their production of this brew, which is made once per year, is given to the town of Lichtervelds for a festival, with the other 20% kept at the brewery to be sold only for consumption onsite.

Our 2nd surprise came after discussing Christmas beers and questioning when the 2010 Stille Nacht would be available.   To our astonishment, Else pulled out of the refrigerator a bottle from their 1st bottling of this year’s version, which was bottled only 3 days prior.  She confessed that she and her husband Kris hadn’t even tasted this year’s batch.  They were going to save that bottle to taste that evening, but fortunately for us, they were kind enough to share it with us!  

The 2010 Stille Nacht- bottled on Oct 20th 2010

Stille Nacht is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 12.0% abv.  

Bill showing off the bottle of this year’s Stille Nacht

 

Else tasting the 2010 Stille Nacht

This year’s batch is fantastic and was less sweet then the past few years, which made this one extremely drinkable.  I would suggest finding this brew to drink now and to save a few to age.

By the way, Kris is not only a fantastic brewer, but a fabulous artist.  Throughout the brewery and bar area you can see his artwork.

Art work by De Dolle brewer Kris Herteleer

Kris showing Ruth some of his art work and his sketchbook of Brugge

After dinner on the barge, which was as good as you would find in a 3 star Michelin restaurant, some of us went on a beer hunting expedition to ‘t Brugs Beertje .  

‘t Brugs Beertje

At Brugs Beertje we sat down and shared a few brews and great beery conversation with my friend Filip Geerts, who produces the Belgian Beer Board website, his wife Katrien, and Regnier,who runs the Bruges bottle shop De Bier Tempel .

Friends sharing a few beers at ‘t Brugs Beertje

Before we got a chance to look of the beer menu, Filip & I exchanged early Christmas gifts.  I got him the  Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout from Cigar City Brewing and he got me the Bush Ambrée Triple. This Belgian Strong Pale Ale has a 12.0% abv and comes from Brasserie Dubuisson Frères.  This beer was made for the 75th anniversary of Bush.

Here is a list of beers we sampled at Brugs Beertje:

 

Guido

 Guido -a Belgian Strong Dark Ale of 8.0%abv which is no longer being brewed by Brouwerij Smisje. Filip, in addition to keeping up the Belgian Beer Board, also contributes to the Smisje website.

Smiske

 Smiske is a Belgian Pale Ale of 7.0% abv and is brewed by Brouwerij Smisje.

 Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze is a Gueuze at 6.0% abv brewed by Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen.

 St. Bernardus Abt 12 is a Quadrupel at 10.5% abv brewed by Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV. 

an empty glass of Triple d’Anvers

Triple d’Anvers – an  8.0% abv Tripel which is a new brew from Brouwerij De Koninck (which is now owned by Duvel Moortgat). 

Daisy pouring the Ichtegem’s Grand Cru

Ichtegem’s Grand Cru

 Ichtegem’s Grand Cru- a Flemish Red Ale of 6.5%abv brewed by Brouwerij Strubbe.

 

 

2009 De Dolle Brouwers Oerbier Special Reserva

2009 De Dolle Brouwers Oerbier Special Reserva, which is a 13.0%abv Flanders Oud Bruin brewed by Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers.

 

2010 St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

  

Bruges at night

And we all ended the night with the 2010 St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, which is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale of 10.0% abv brewed by Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV. 

Stay tuned for Days 2 through 7 as we Barge through Belgium using the canals to go to Gent, Antwerp and Brussels.

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

Bon Beer Voyage’s Belgian Beercation Starts in 70 Days!

Our Belgium Private Canal Beercation starts in 70 Days! 

As we explore Bruges, Gent, Antwerp, Mechelen and Brussels we will be visiting the following: In de Vrede (Westvletern); De Dolle Brouwers; Gruut; Bosteels; Malheur; Cafe Trappisten (Westmalle); Duvel and Cantillon Brewery as well as many other sites. 

Below are excerpts from Bon Beer Voyage’s August Newsletter which features Cantillon Brewery.   Enjoy and we hope to see you in the future on a Bon Beer Voyage.

Tours for Belgian and Craft Beer Enthusiasts

August 2010 Newsletter

www.BonBeer.com

888-U-Go-Beer (888-846-2337)

Greetings! 

Things are really brewing here at BBV!  We’ve set a date for our Tampa 2011 trip, done some fine tuning on the Belgium trip, set up a tentative itinerary for Italy and are soon heading out to preview our Ireland trip!

Can you believe the Belgian Barge Beercation is just over 2 months away? Can’t stand to be left out? Well good news is there are still a few cabins available for only $2239 per person (double occupancy)! 

Are you getting the latest info on our trips and other great beer news?  Become a fan on Facebook, and don’t forget to check out our this blog, our website and newsletters for up to date trip info and specials!

This month’s newsletter features another of the unique breweries that we will be visiting on our Belgium trip- Cantillon Brewery in Brussels, world famous for their Gueuze.

We hope you enjoy this months newsletter. 

Cheers! 

Ruth & Mike

Brewery Insider  

 Previews of Breweries We Visit on our Bon Beer Voyage Tours

 

 Cantillon Brewery, Brussels, Belgium

This month we take a closer look at a very unique brewery that is sure to be one of the highlights of our Belgian Beercation, the Cantillon Brewery, located in Brussels, Belgium.  Cantillon was founded in 1900 by the Van Roy-Cantillon family. 

The building, which dates back to 1874 was previously a warehouse. In 1900  Paul Cantillon, the son of a brewer, opened the facility as a Gueuze blending facility. It did not begin brewing its own concoctions until the end of 1937.  Master Brewer Jean-Pierre Van Roy took over the Cantillon family brewery when his father-in-law gave him an ultimatum. Cantillon told Van Roy that that if he didn’t take it over, he would close.  Jean-Pierre obviously rose to the occasion. Today, with Jean Van Roy (son of Jean-Pierre) as the brewer,Cantillon is one of only two lambic breweries still in operation that produces nothing but authentic, unsweetened, ufiltered, unpasteurized lambic and is currently the only active brewery in Brussels which is open to the public.

The brewery produces Gueuze (now close your eyes real quick and tell me how to spell that again?), Lambic, Faro and Kriek in the same tradition that it has for over 100 years. 

Lambic is a beer which is spontaneously fermented.  This means that instead of having yeast added to it, it takes advantage of the wild yeast in the air.  The particular area in Belgium in which Cantillon is located is very well known for its particular strains of wild yeast.  The building has numerous small holes in it, allowing the yeast to enter. 

When visiting, in my opinion the coolest part(no pun intended) is the cooling tun in the attic.  This is a huge open topped copper pan where the wort is not only cooled, but gains all the natural yeasts that are floating around in the air; it’s kind of like when we used to do those experiments in science class with petri dishes!

The cooled wort is then put in old oak or chestnut barrels where it ferments for 1-3 years before it is blended, then rebottled immediately so the second fermentation can take place creating the gueuze.  Alteratively, fruit is added to create Kriek(cherries) or Framboise(raspberries)  as well as a unique grape lambic. 

For the most part, Gueuze is made up of a blend of lambics of different ages.  Cantillon mixes theirs fom their own lambics, while some other breweries wil mix lambics from varying breweries.

Kriek is made from the Schaarbeek variety of cherries steeped in lambic, pits and all.  It dissoves and ferments for 4-5 months during which time the pits dissolve  as well, imparting some nuttiness to the flavor along with the cherry.  The Framboise is lambic steeped with raspberries (as well as a small amount of cherries).  The Framboise only takes about 3 months to be ready to go.

The brewery appears as old as it really is! There are, of course, dust and cobwebs; this is because the building purposely has the holes in it to welcome the wild yeast that makes their mouth watering products possible.  They have not changed much over the years, since they feel that this helps to ensure the authenticity and quality of their beer.

Interestingly enough, 68% of Cantillon’s beer is currently exported.  It seems America and Japan are keeping them in business!  Apparantly the trend toward a taste for sweeter beverages, such as Coca Cola, has left the sour gueuze unpopular locally.  Fortunately for us, there remains and continues to grow a sour loving, specialty seeking, beer enthusiast contingent who for now, help Cantillon remain viable and a must see mecca for people like us!

As one web reviewer so eloquently commented: “It is the center of the gueuze universe”!  We agree- and are looking forward to sharing this historic brewery with all of you that are joining us in October!

If you would like to join us when we visit Canillon in October   

click here to book this trip.

 

Belgian Canal Cruise Beercation

October 23-30, 2010

  Less than 71 Days Left  

Until the Belgian Barge Beercation!  

Have you reserved your space yet?

DON’T MISS THE BOAT

Limited Space Still Available!

REGISTER TODAY!  

Don’t Miss The Opportunity to…

Try These and Endless Other Great Beers!

 

 See These Awesome Sights!  

  Experience These Unique Bathrooms  🙂   

 

Enjoy…Unique regional brews in some of the most historic and best beer-stocked pubs. 

Experience…the historical and fascinating cities, including Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent & Brussels with guided tours as well as free time to explore on your own. 

Visit…Beer Lovers Meccas, such as Westvleteren, Westmalle and Cantillon! 

Savor…Cuisine a la biere!  (That’s the fancy french term for food cooked in beer!)

Relax…it’s your vacation! No driving! No figuring out where to eat or how to get from one place to the next!  Unpack only once on our incredibly comfortable private passenger barge and get ready for the beercation of a lifetime!   

  Only $2239 per person, double occupancy

 Reserve Your Space Today While there is still Availability!

Don’t Miss the Boat!

  • Quality accommodations on our own exclusive passenger barge
  • Experienced, English speaking tour leaders and guides
  • Ground transportation throughout the tour
  • Sightseeing, private guided tours, special activities and events
  • All taxes on included hotels, meals and transportation

 Exclusive Bon Beer Voyage Benefits…

  • Tour insurance coverage to cover tour cancellation or interruption (for medical reasons), lost luggage, accidental death, medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation, or unavoidable flight delays. Please note: many personal health insurance plans don’t cover their participants while they are traveling out of the country.  
  • Our Barge Trips are limited to a maximum of 22 guests, making it feel more like traveling with a group of friends and allowing us a more comfortable, personalized tour experience.

Call Today!

1-888-U-Go-Beer (888-846-2337)

Or go to our website: www.BonBeer.com  to reserve now.

Space is Limited!

 

Beer Safari News

 Great News! We’re heading back to Tampa for More Tours, Tastings and Fun!

More Great News – We’ve scheduled this year’s

 Tampa Beer Safari Weekend over

President’s Day Weekend!

February 18-20, 2011,

This could be a really nice Valentine’s gift to give the beer lover in your life! ! And if you have the time to make it a real holiday weekend, we can even help you arrange for additional nights before or after the tour at the hotel at  special BBV rates.  Details coming soon…watch your emails and our Facebook page for up to the date  info and be the first to register – space will be limited!  

See pics from 2010 Tampa Beer Safari on Mike’s blog, The Beer Stocked Refrigerator 

You can  email us if you would like to pre-register for any of our trips.

 We hope you enjoyed this month’s newsletter. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions regarding any of our trips or for custom tour information. 

We can be reached at 1-888-U-Go-Beer or at info@bonbeer.com 

Cheers!

Ruth & Mike

Bon Beer Voyage 

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Beer #134 Westvleteren 12

Westvleteren 12

Name:  Trappist Westvleteren 12

Style: Quadrupel (Quad)

Brewery: Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren) website

Country:  Belgium

Region:  Westvleteren

ABV: 10.2% Abv

How served: 330ml capped bottle poured into a vintage Abbij St. Sixtus goblet.         

My Overall Opinion: Amazing. 

I paired this beer with: Calissons d’Aix

Tasted on:  Monday August 9th, 2010. 

Note:  The Cap is stamped with a 19/09/10 date, meaning this beer will be 3 years old this September 19th.  I let it warm to 50° before I opened the bottle.  This bottle opened with a “hiss” and poured a deep dark cloudy brown with a one finger tan head on a slow easy pour.  The head leaves a nice thin lace on the glass.  The nose was sweet with hints of dried fruit (raisins/plums), licorice, chocolate and bit of alcohol .   The taste is of caramel, dried raisins, prunes, vanilla, sweet candy (is that licorice again) and a hint of cherries. The mouthfeel is of medium creamy feel with a nice pleasant warmth from the 10.2% abv.   This is a very drinkable brew and I’m going to be heading to my fridge for an encore.

Westvleteren 12 cap dated 19 09 10

On the Label:  What label?

From their website:  All images remain property of the Abbey of Saint Sixt and cannot be reproduced.

In De Vrede, the café at Brouwerij Westvleteren will be the 1st place we visit on our Belgium Beer Barge Tour in October 2010.  Here will taste not only a fresh 12 & 8 but also the Blonde.  What a great way to start vacation.  If you want to join us, check out www.BonBeer.com . 

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

South Florida Beer Social Media Round 2 tasting

Beer List from the South Florida Beer Social Media Round 2 Tasting
Saturday May 22, 2010 At

325 NE 2nd Avenue # 104  Delray Beach, Fl 33444

South Florida Beer Social Media Beer Tasting List

 South Florida Beer Social Media Round 2 was put together and Emceed by Ed Roberts, Assistant Manager & “beer educator” from the Ft. Lauderdale Total Wine & More store and gracefully hosted by Chung of the Coffee District.   The purpose of this event was to have local South Floridian craft beer lovers who are knowledgeable in social media and/or of the local beer scene to brainstorm on how to improve the awareness of craft beer in the South Florida region, which would ultimately make this a very desirable area for craft beer drinkers.

Besides brainstorming, the 20 people who attended contributed 35 beers to be tasted including some great homebrews and different vintages of the same beer.  As it turned out the brainstorming took a back seat after we were about half way down the list.

 Other local craft beer bars represented:

Ryan and Jim from The Funky Buddha Lounge & Phann from The Lodge. 

 Local Craft Beer Bloggers who participated:

John at Beer Review Dude

Nessie at The Beer Cook

John with his Clean Plate Charlie (he writes both a Blog and is seen in the print media with New Times as a food critic)

Rob from Daily Beer Review

The Ferm & Cerveza Chica from Dos Beerigos

Mike from MikeLovesBeer

Vanessa at Potables +  Edibles

On Twitter you’ll find Joel @Brewkkake 

 Others in the Beer Industry:

Jonathon who runs & Emcees the Boca Beer Lovers Meetup group

Jeff with Draft Doctor

Ian at Fresh Beer

Drew who is in the process of opening up a brewery in Miami called Magellanic Brewery.

 And of course yours truly The Beer Stocked Refrigerator and my wife Ruth at Bon Beer Voyage

South Florida Beer Social Media Round 2 tasting

 Here is the list in the order we tasted the following 35 beers:

Conte Di Campiglia Etrusca

 #1) Conte Di Campiglia Etrusca  Style: Pilsener  ABV : 4.5%

Brewery : Conte di Campiglia  San Godenzo, Italy.    They have been producing beer since 2005.  Besides beer they produce wine, grappa, olive oil, jams and marmalades. This will be one of the places we will visit when we do our Bon Beer Voyage Tuscan Beer, Wine, Gourmet Food and Shopping tour in the Spring of 2011.

 The above beer was paired with Jam which was made with the above Etrusca from Conte Di Campiglia

The Bruery Rugbrod

#2) The Bruery Rugbrød Style: Rye Beer  ABV : 8.0%

Brewery : The Bruery  Placentia, California

Goose Island Matilda 2010

#3) Goose Island Matilda (2010 vintage) Style: Belgium Strong Pale Ale  ABV : 7.0%

Brewery : Goose Island Beer Co.  Chicago, Illinois

#4) Goose Island Matilda (2009 vintage) Style: Belgium Strong Pale Ale  ABV : 7.0%

Brewery : Goose Island Beer Co.  Chicago, Illinois

Homebrew: Hell or High Watermelon clone

#5) Homebrew: Hell or High Watermelon clone Style: Fruit Wheat beer  ABV : ? %

Brewery : Homebrew by The Ferm from Dos Beerigos  Florida

#6) Homebrew: Ian’s Red Hoppy Ale  Style: Red Ale ?  ABV :  ? %

Brewery :  Homebrew by Ian who works for Fresh Beer,  Florida

Grand Teton Pursuit of Hoppiness

#7) Grand Teton Pursuit of Hoppiness  Style: American Strong Ale  ABV : 8.0%

Brewery : Grand Teton Brewing Co.  Victory, Idaho.     This beer was only brewed once in 2009 as part of their Cellar Reserve “Big Beer in a Big Bottle series”  

Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu

#8) Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu  Style: Spiced Beer/ Ancient Herbed Ale    ABV : 8.0%

Brewery : Dogfish Head Craft Brewery  Milton, Delaware

2005 Westvletern 8 with the 2003 & 2004 Rochefort 10's in #17 & 18

#9) Trappist Westvleteren 8 (2005 vintage) cap date 19 02 09 Style: Dubbel  ABV : 8.0%

Brewery : Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren  Westvleteren, Belgium.   You can tell the vintage of a Westvleteren by subtracting 4 years from the best by date stamped on the bottle cap.

Andelot Cuvee Angelique

#10) Andelot Cuvee Angelique   Style: Dubbel  ABV : 7.0%

Brewery : De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)  Lochirist-Hijfte, Belgium

New Belgium Lips of Faith Transatlantique Kriek

#11) New Belgium Lips of Faith Transatlantique Kriek   Style: Lambic   ABV : 8.0% 

Brewery : New Belgium Brewing Inc.   Fort Collins, Colorado

Hair of the Dog Fred

#12) Hair of the Dog Fred   Style: American Barleywine  ABV : 10.0%

Brewery : Hair of the Dog Brewing Company  Portland, Oregon

Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest

#13) Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest  Style: American Pale Ale  ABV : 6.7%

Brewery : Sierra Nevade Brewing Co.  Chico, California

Adriaen Brouwers Dark Gold Ale

#14) Adriaen Brouwer Dark Gold Ale  Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale  ABV : 8.5%

Brewery : Browerij Roman N.V.   Mater-Oudenaarde, Belgium.   The beer is an “exclusive” from Total Wine and More.

AleSmith Wee Heavy

#15) AleSmith Wee Heavy  Style: Scotch Ale – Wee Heavy  ABV : 10.0%

Brewery : AleSmith Brewing Company  San Diego, California

Mayflower Thanksgiving Ale

#16) Mayflower Thanksgiving Ale   Style: American Strong Ale  ABV : 8.0%

Brewery : Mayflower Brewing Company Plymouth, Massachusetts

#17) Trappistes Rochefort 10 (2003 vintage) best by date 10 06 08 Style: Quadrupel  ABV : 11.30%

Brewery : Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy Rochefort,  Belgium.   You can tell the vintage of a Rochefort by subtracting 5 years from the best by date stamped on the bottle.

#18) Trappistes Rochefort 10 (2004 vintage)  best by date 6 10 09 Style: Quadrupel  ABV : 11.30%

Brewery : Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy Rochefort, Belgium

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice

#19) Anderson Valley Summer Solstice  Style: Cream Ale  ABV : 5.6%

Brewery : Anderson Valley Brewing Company  Boonville, California.

Panil Barriquée

#20) Panil Barriquée Style: Flanders Red Ale ABV : 8.0%

Brewery : Panil Torrechiara, Italy

21) Homebrew:  Lil Bitta  Style: ?   ABV : ? %

Brewery : Homebrew by Mike from MikeLovesBeer, Florida

Pretty Thing Saint Botolph's Town

#22) Pretty Thing Saint Botolph’s Town Style: English Brown Ale  ABV : 5.9%

Brewery : Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project  Cambridge, Massachusetts

Pugsley's Signature Series Barley Wine

#23) Pugsley’s Signature Series Barley Wine  Style: English Barleywine  ABV : 8.5%

Brewery : Shipyard Brewing Co.  Portland,  Maine

Half Acre Baumé

#24) Half Acre Baumé  Style: American Stout  ABV : 7.0%

Brewery : Half Acre Beer Company  Chicago, Illinois

Homebrew: The White Hoote Belgium Style White Ale

#25) Homebrew:  The White Hoote Belgium Style White Ale Style: Witbier  ABV : ?%

Brewery :  Homebrew by Vanessa at  Potables +  Edibles , Florida

#26) Homebrew:  Bohemian Pilsener  Style: Pilsener  ABV : ?%

Brewery :  Homebrew by Vanessa at Potables +  Edibles , Florida

Goose Island Pere Jacques

#27) Goose Island Pere Jacques  Style: Dubbel  ABV : 8.0%

Brewery : Goose Island Beer Co.  Chicago, Illinois

Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale

#28) Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale  Style: Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale  ABV : 6.5%

Brewery : Williams Brothers Brewing Company  Alloa,  Scotland

Brew Dog Rip Tide

#29) Brew Dog Rip Tide  Style: Imperial Stout ABV : 8.0%

Brewery : BrewDog Ltd.  Fraseerburgh,  Scotland

Cigar City Big Sound Scotch Ale

#30) Cigar City Big Sound Scotch Ale  Style: Scotch Ale – Wee Heavy  ABV : 8.5%

Brewery : Cigar City Brewing   Tampa, Florida

AleSmith Speedway Stout

#31) AleSmith Speedway Stout  Style: Imperial Stout  ABV : 12.00%

Brewery : AleSmith Brewing Company  San Diego, California

Beer Valley Black Flag Imperial Stout 2009 Fresh Hop Harvest Edition

#32) Beer Valley Black Flag Imperial Stout (2009 Fresh Hop Harvest Edition)  Style: Imperial Stout  ABV : 11.0%

Brewery : Beer Valley Brewing Co.  Ontario, Oregon.  This is a version of the “regular” Black Flag which is “hopped-up” with 200 pounds of fresh hops and is made once a year.

Hoppin' Frog Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S.

#33) Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. Oatmeal Imperial Stout  Style: Russian Imperial Stout  ABV : 9.4%

Brewery : Hoppin’ Frog Brewery  Akron, Ohio

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout 2006 with the old colored cap

#34) Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (2006 vintage)  Style: Imperial Stout  ABV : 18.00%

Brewery : Dogfish Head Craft Brewery  Milton, Delaware

#35) Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (2007 vintage) Style: Imperial Stout  ABV : 18.00%

Brewery : Dogfish Head Craft Brewery  Milton, Delaware

Also we had some very delicious Stuffed Mushrooms courtesy of Nessie at The Beer Cook

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

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

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