A Beery Merry Christmas!

Our 2012 Christmas List

Our 2012 Christmas List

Let the Festivities Begin!

 

The Bruery 2 Turtle Doves 

Au Baron (Bailleux)  Saison Saint Médard Noël

Ommegang Biere D’Hougoumont

Gouden Carolus Noël

Fantôme de Noël

St Bernardus Christmas Ale

Scaldis (Bush) Noël

Mikkeller Santa’s Little Helper 2011

Abbaye des Rocs Triple Impériale

Corsendonk Christmas Ale

Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Christmas Porter

Dugges High Five!

Westvleteren XII (x 2)

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2009

Stone 12 Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

 

This is what’s on our Christmas List, we hope you get everything on your Christmas List too!

Happy Holidays!

Ruth & Mike

Bon Beer Voyage

France & Belgium Vacation Beer Haul

Beer haul from our France & Belgium vacation

Here is the beer haul from our recent trip to France & Belgium where we met with some of the brewers and vendors for our upcoming October beer tour Grand Crus to Farmhouse Brews- A Beercation Cruise through Belgium & France”

This is all the beer we were able to fit in our luggage without going over the 50 pound limit.  We also had some fantastic Bière de Garde from St Germain (Page 24) and Belgian Ales from Sint Canarus, which we weren’t able to bring back home due to the weight limits.

During this working vacation we had the chance to visit 8 of the 11 breweries which will be on our tour. This included 3 fabulous breweries on the France side of the border, 5 on the Belgium side and one French genièvre distillery.  From France we visited Brasserie Bailleux / Au Baron, Brasserie St Germain & Brasserie Thiriez.  In Belgium wevisited Brouwerij Rodenbach, Brouwerij St Bernardus, Brouwerij Van Eecke, Huisbrouwerij Sint Canarus & Chimay. 

Over the next few days in this blog we will be highlighting each of the breweries on our tour as well as share some amazing beery information on the beer scene in Lille.  For those who want a quick look at the amazing Day by Day Itinerary of the Grand Crus to Farmhouse Brews- A Beercation Cruise click here.

Beers in the Photo from left to right are:

The Pastis by Ricard, well it’s not beer but was added as a palate cleanser between beers 🙂

Dalva, a fantastic D.I.P.A. from Brasserie Thiriez.

Toyko, a Witbier from St Bernardus which was made for their new brewpub in Toyko.

2 great Saisons from Brasserie Baileux (Au Baron) both the Brune and the Ambrée
Saison Saint Médard.

Rodenbach’s Caractère Rouge which cost only 7.99 euro at a supermarket close to the French/Belgian border.

Rodenbach 2009 Vintage, a gift from the Rudi the brewer.

The last 3 beers were found at L’Abbaye des Saveurs a fabulous bottle shop in Lille which carries over 300 different beers, including a great selection of French beers:
Cuvée D’Oscar from Craig Allen.

Kabert (a blend of Kate the Great and Black Albert) from de Struise.

1997 Samichlaus (the last year it was made and bottled by the old brewery Hürlimann in Zürich Switzerland, it is now made by Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg in Austria).

Bon Beer Voyage

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

Tampa Bay Beer Safari Weekend February 18th – 20th 2011 in Review

Tampa Bay Beer Safari Weekend February 18th – 20th 2011                                  

Our 2nd Annual Tampa Bay Beer Safari Weekend Beer Tour was quite a success!   We visited 2 brew pubs, 2 breweries, had two great beer paired dinners and 2 after dinner beer tastings.

Happy Hour

We started out our 1st night with a get to know each other Happy Hour.  We had the opportunity to sample:

Anchor Christmas Ale

Anchor Christmas Ale – Winter Warmer – 5.5% abv –  Anchor Brewing Company

Trappist Achel 8 Briun

Trappist Achel 8 Briun – Dubbel – 8.0% abv –   Brouwerij der St. Benedictusabdij de Achelse  

Twin Sisters – Double IPA – 9.0%abv – Left Hand Brewing Co 

Left Hand Imperial Stout – Russian Imperial Stout – 10.4% abv – Left Hand Brewing Co 

Kalamazoo Stout – American Stout – 6.0% abv – Bells Brewery

Orange Blossom Pilsner – Fruit beer – 6.5% abv – Orange Blossom Pilsner LLC

 …Plus 2 extra special growlers fresh from the Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery in Boca Raton!

So Thank You MusicGinger Lemongrass Wheat – unknown abv

Last SnowCoffee Porter – also an unknown abv

Funky Buddha's So Thank You Music, oh what a great nose you have!

Funky Buddha’s “So Thank You Music”, oh what a great nose you have!

So Thank You Music was the “Hit” of the Happy Hour with its amazing nose of fresh ginger and lemongrass, as well as its wonderful taste which matched the nose.  A close second was Last Snow, which is an interesting name as Boca Raton never even gets a 1st snow… actually it’s a celebration ale for those in South Florida to toast with as the “Last Snow(bird)” leaves the region.

 After the happy hour we took a short walk to Bernini, a fabulous Italian Restaurant in the heart of Ybor City for our first beer paired dinner.

 To honor Sierra Nevada Brewing Co’s 30 years of great brewing I paired 3 of their outstanding brews with this evening’s dinner. 

Cheers from Bernini

For the 1st Course we had Bruschetta and Calmari paired with:

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

Kellerweis – Hefeweizen – 4.80% abv.  In my opinion this is one of the better examples of a true German Hefeweizen made in America.

 For the 2nd Course we had a choice between the Classic Caesar Salad (I had mine with extra anchovies) or the House Mista Salad paired with:

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Pale Ale – American Pale Ale – 5.6% abv.  This is Sierra Nevada’s “Flagship” beer and the one beer you can count on finding in most pubs or restaurants which haven’t figured out the craft beer movement yet.

 For our Main Course our choices were either Angel Hair pasta tossed with Grilled Chicken Breast; Shrimp Orecchiette; Margherita Pizza or the New Yorker Pizza with roasted peppers, onions, mushrooms, pepperoni, Italian sausage & mozzarella. (the pizzas as well as the meal servings were HUGE!)  These were paired with:

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

Torpedo Extra IPA – IPA – 7.2% abv.  This is their Pale Ale on steroids! 

 We also had the opportunity to try the Torpedo Extra IPA side by side with Cigar City Brewing’s Jai Alai IPA – IPA – 7.5% abv. 

Cigar City Jai Alai

Maybe I’m being a “homeboy” but I felt the Jai Alai had a tad better nose and taste, I have to say, it was it really close.

 Here is a very entertaining short video of an impromptu after dinner discussion of the tour by Ruth & Mike:

After the dinner & the “show” we walked around the corner to see what was brewing at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company.

Tampa Bay Brewing Logo

Tampa Bay Brewing Company was founded in 1996 and is a family business, with mother and son serving as general manager and brewmaster respectively. Their on-site brewery is equipped to produce up to twelve tap beers and several cask-conditioned ales on a 10bbl step-infusion brewing system.  As a matter of fact, 12 of their 16 serving tanks used to hold the beer at the famous Bass Ale Brewery in England.  

Tampa Bay Brewing Co’s Tanks

Here we tried the Wild Warthog Weizen – 5.2% abv;  Jack the Quaffer London Porter – 5.7%;  Iron Rat Stout – 8.0% abv and the MooseKiller Barleywine- 10.0% abv as well as a taste of their fabulous Root Beer, which is made on site.

Tampa Bay Brewing Co

After we left Tampa Bay Brewing Co, our plan was to do some beer hunting at New World Brewing Co.  At New World Brewing you will find the best selection of craft beer in Ybor City with 26 taps and at least 100 bottled beers.  You can also enjoy entertainment in their outside courtyard.  However tonight the courtyard was packed, so instead we opted to return to the hotel and do some beer tasting in a more relaxed atmosphere. 

 Back at the hotel, in additional to revisiting some of our “Happy Hour Beers”, we shared:

McChouffe, Gouden Carolus Noël and 2 Turtle Doves

McChouffe – Belgium Strong Dark Ale – 8.0% abv – Brasserie d’Achouffe

Gouden Carolus Noël – Belgium Strong Dark Ale – 10.5% abv – Brouwerij Het Anker

2 Turtle Doves –  Belgium Strong Dark Ale – 12.0% abv – The Bruery

& a fresh growler of

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum via the Funky Buddha Lounge

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum – Double IPA – 10.4% abv – Sierra Nevada Brewing Co

Showing the Funky Buhdda’s “So Thank You Music” some Love

Friday Night after Dinner Get Together

Tarpon Springs and Spongeorama

On Saturday morning our 1st stop was Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Springs is known as the Sponge Capital of the World, so we visited the Famous Spongeorama to see the Sponge Diving Museum and stroll along the waterfront and a few specialty shops. 

Hellas

Tarpon Springs is also Florida’s own Greek village, so we of course had to sample some mouthwatering pastries at the very authentic Greek restaurant, Hellas.  This was a “sweet” way to start the morning! 

Heading over to Saint Somewhere

After spending about an hour here, we headed off to meet our friend Bob Sylvester and see his brewing set up at Saint Somewhere Brewing Company.

 While Bob explained to us his brewing process, including his use of open fermentation, he also showed off his new tanks and told us that he has just expanded to offering his 3 brews- Saison Athene – Saison – 7.5% abv, Lectio Divina – Belgium Strong Pale Ale – 8.0% abv & Pays du Soleil – Dubbel – 8.0% abv- in kegs. 

Saint Somewhere

After seeing the size of this small brewery everyone was extremely impressed when Bob told us that his beers can be found in 35 states!  It is truly mind boggling that that much beer can be produced here.  Bob also said that he will be brewing the next collaboration beer he has planned with Cigar City called Déjà Vu, in this location.  He told us that it will be a completely different style then Vuja Dé, which was made at Cigar City.

Checking the smell of Lectio Divina

Did you know that 11:00 am is the time of day your taste buds are supposed to be most in tune? Well fortunate for us our beer tour happened to be at Saint Somewhere right about then, and we were invited to help ourselves to a taste of Lectio Divina out of the keg…and as if that wasn’t a beautiful thing in itself, Bob also shared with us 3 additional very special brews!  

The Younger Oak Aged Blend

The 1st special brew was an extremely young oak barrel aged blend of his beers.  Bob warned us that it was “young & hot” and really needed to age quite a bit longer before consuming.  The nose of this beer was a mixture between rocket fuel and nail polish remover, however when it came to the taste, it was like drinking a fine port wine with no hint of the fuel or remover.

The 2 oak barrels used in aging the special brews

Enjoying the special brew

His 2nd special brew was a mature 2-3 year old oak barrel aged blend.  This beer was sublime, the nose was mildly tart/sour with hints of oak, caramel and vanilla and the taste was both tart yet mildly sweet of fruit- with notes of the oak and a smooth as silk mouth feel. I could drink this all day. Ruth says just thinking about it makes her mouth water!

Getting a whiff of the Saison Athene with Brettanomyces “C”

Saison Athene with Brettanomyces “C” strain

The 3rd special brew was a taste of a beer which he says never made it to the market. It was his Saison Athene with Brettanomyces “C” strain.  The “C” strain added more tartness and citrus in the nose and taste than you would find in the “regular” Saison Athene.

 After tasting these 3 beers, it made me feel extremely blessed that we have such a great Belgium style artisanal brewer here in Florida. 

Great sign on Bob’s Desk

Dunedin Brewery

So we left Tarpon Springs to head over to Florida’s Scottish heritage town, Dunedin.  Here we visited Dunedin Brewery for a brewery tour, beer tasting and a great lunch! Plus we will have Bob from Saint Somewhere join us too!

Dunedin Taps

Dunedin Brewery is the oldest microbrewery in Florida.  They always have 8 of their beers available year round on tap plus a few extra seasonal beers as well as guest taps.

Dunedin Celtic Gold Ale

We all stated off with their Celtic Gold Ale – Kölsch – 5.2% abv to enjoy while we toured around their brewing facilities

Dunedin Brewery Tour

Sharing a Dropkick Red Ale with Bob

We had all worked up a mighty thirst during our tour, so we were happy to try the samples of their Dropkick Red Ale – Amber Ale &

Dunediin Leonard Croon Stout

Leonard Croon Stout – Stout – 5.2% abv  offered to us by Ricky (our awesome guide, beer tender and server) before we placed our order for lunch. 

Dunedin… I’m ready for lunch

I chose to have their famous Pacific Coast Fish Taco, and since I heard they still had some of their delicious Christmas Farm Ale – Spiced Beer – 5.2% abv available, I paired that with my fish taco.  Boy, this was one great lunch stop!

Having fortified ourselves, we will set off to Cigar City Brewery.  On our way over to Cigar City we passed the time playing a few rounds of Beer Cap Bingo for some beery cool (of course) prizes.

Cigar City Brewing

Cigar City Brewery was founded by beer columnist and Tampa native Joey Redner in the summer of 2007. Since its inception CCB has been guided by Joey’s passion for both great beer and the city of his birth.   With the creative input and expertise of Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup award winning brewer Wayne Wambles, Cigar City Brewing endeavors to make world class ales and lagers which celebrate the rich heritage and traditions that make Tampa one of the world’s most unique cities.

 During our tour of Cigar City’s facilities what struck me the most was how much they have expanded since we were here last year. During our walk around the brewery we even caught a glimpse of a group of B.J.C.P. judges occupying the back end of the brewery where they were hard at work judging something I’m sure we will quaff in the future!

What on Tap at Cigar City Brewing

Once we made our way to the tasting room we had some samples of:

Getting a taste of Vuja Dé

Vuja Dé – American Wild Ale – 10.0% abv

Cubano Espresso – American Brown Ale – 5.5% abv

Jose Marti – American Porter – 8.0% abv

Humidor Jai Alai IPA – IPA – 7.5% abv

Cigar City Tasting Room

After having our fill at Cigar City we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for our big night out at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. (or so they keep calling it…I wonder how long and how many beer dinners it will take to convince them to add Beer to the name?)

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

Stylish, contemporary dining is the hallmark of Fleming’s. The menu features the finest in prime beef, augmented by a tempting variety of chops, seafood, chicken, generous salads, inventive side orders and indulgent desserts.  

Fleming’s

We had a 4 course beer paired gourmet dinner created especially for our Beer Safari by the chef at Fleming’s.

 Here is our menu:

 First Course

lobster mango crisps; Crispy wontons topped with main lobster, mango finished with garlic, shallots, and fresh herbs paired with:

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis  a  Hefeweizen of 4.80% ABV by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
 

Second Course

Malheur’s Spring Salad; Julienned Pears and Gala apples, tossed in Orange Sriracha vinaigrette, finished with candied walnuts and grape tomatoes paired with:

Malheur 10

Malheur 10 a Belgian Strong Pale Ale 10.0% ABV from Brouwerij De Landtsheer NV 

 

Third Course

petite filet; Chimichurri sauce, served with roasted baby carrots with golden raisins and balsamic reduction, garlic mashed potatoes paired with:

Terrapin Hop Karma IPA

Terrapin Hop Karma IPA an American Brown Ale 6.00% ABV by Terrapin Beer Company 

 

Fourth Course

chocolate stout cake; Cake infused with double chocolate stout, served with Chantilly cream paired with:

Young’s Double Chocolate and Stout Cake

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout a Sweet Stout 5.20% ABV Wells & Young’s Ltd. 

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Belgium Barge Re union

Between Courses we had a brief overview of the beer we were drinking and the chef explained how he paired the meal with the beer.  As you can see, we decided to try the same beer for the first pairing as the previous night, in order to do a comparison of appetizer/beer pairing for this beer, just to try something a little different.  This Kellerweis is what I consider the perfect example of this style.

 After Dinner we returned to the hotel for another round of beer tasting, but the 1st order of business was to settle our dispute as to which cartoon dog, Muttley or Snuffles, was the one which would jump up and then float down in air on his back like a feather after receiving a treat.  To our surprise it was both!

Muttley vs Snuffles

Saturday Night after Dinner Gathering

This evening we finished what was left of:

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum – Double IPA – 10.4% abv

Funky Buddha Lounge’s Ginger Lemongrass Wheat, So Thank You Music

Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout – American Stout – 6.0% abv

As well as the following:

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale – Belgium Strong Dark Ale – 10.0% abv – Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

Southern Tier Crème Brulée – Imperial Stout – 10.0% abv – Southern Tier Brewing Company

Paníl Barriquée – Flanders Red Ale – 8.0% abv – Paníl

The Lost Abbey 10 Commandments – Belgium Strong Dark Ale – 9.0%abv – The Lost Abbey

Saturday Night’s Beers

An old cigar factory

On Sunday morning after a leisurely breakfast we enjoyed a perfect day for our guided historical walking tour of Ybor City (the original “Cigar City”).   

A little piece of Cuban Soil found in Ybor City during our walking Tour

The old Florida Brewing Company Building

Our guide informed us that Ybor City is also the home of the 1st brewery in Florida, the Florida Brewing Company (after prohibition it was re-named Tampa Florida Brewery, Inc)In 1896 the construction of the Florida Brewing Company started; when it was finished, it was the tallest building in Tampa at six stories.   They used the water from a natural spring which ran under the building to make their La Tropical Beer.  The Florida Brewing Company exported more beer to Cuba than any other brewery in the USA.  Unfortunately this Brewery closed in 1961.

“Count” Bon Beer Voyage

Then was back to the hotel to say our goodbyes and check out.  Overall, an amazing weekend with a fantastic group of people and great beer to match!  Can’t wait until our next one!  Looks like the  Saint Augustine Beer Safari Weekend will be coming up in September…make sure you are on the BEERmail list to keep up to date on the latest with our Beercation Beer Tours and Weekend Beer Safari beer trips! Cheers!

Summary of the Oct 2010 Bon Beer Voyage Belgium Beercation (Day 3)

Summary of the Oct 2010 Bon Beer Voyage Belgium Beercation

 Day 3 Monday October 25th            (Sailing from Bruges to Ghent)

Our Barge, The Iris

 This morning we had the pleasure of a relaxed breakfast while being able to enjoy the scenery as the barge sailed slowly from Bruges to Ghent through the canal.   We played a few rounds Beer Cap Bingo for some cool prizes.

View during the Morning Sail to Ghent

Rainbow seen during the Morning Sail to Ghent

After another gourmet lunch on the barge we met up with a much smaller canal boat for an informative tour of the historic city of Ghent from the water. 

View of the Ghent waterway from the canal boat

View of the Ghent waterway from the canal boat

After the canal boat tour we all decided to fortify ourselves with a beer before we headed over to see the “torture” devices at the Gravensteen Castle (now a torture museum). 

Café ‘t Galgenhuis

We headed to the smallest bar in Ghent, Café ‘t Galgenhuis, which is an old “hangman’s”  or gallows house turned into a bar. 

 Here we tried 4 different beers from the same brewery Brouwerij Haacht NV.:

Haacht Wit Bier (Excelsior)- a Witbier of 4.8% abv,

Tongerlo Bruin– a 6.0% abv Belgian Dark Ale and    

 

Charles Quint Blond

 

Charles Quint Bruin

both the Charles Quint (aka Keizer Karel) Blond and Bruin.  The Blond is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 8.5% abv and the Bruin was a Belgian Strong Dark Ale of 9.0% abv.  

Charles Quint Blond and Bruin tasting at Café ‘t Galgenhuis

inside Café ‘t Galgenhuis

Gravensteen Castle

Gravensteen Castle Knight

Thumb screws from the Gravensteen Castle

After our visit through the Gravensteen Castle and seeing all the medieval torture devices we could stand, it was time to calm our tortured nerves with another beer. 

 Our closest stop was ‘t Waterhuis aan de Bierkant.  This canal side gem has a beer list of over 150 beers. 

‘t Waterhuis aan de Bierkant

We shared:

Reinaert Grand Cru

Reinaert Grand Cru -a Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9.5% abv by De Proefbrouwerij,

Buffalo Belgian Bitter

What a huge fluffy head on this Buffalo Belgian Bitter

Buffalo Belgian Bitter- a Belgian IPA of 8.5% abv brewed by Brouwerij Van den Bossche,

Gouden Carolus Noël

Gouden Carolus Noël, a 10.5% abv Belgian Strong Dark Ale from Brouwerij Het Anker,

Rochefort 10

Rochefort 10, a Quadrupel with an abv of 11.30% brewed at the Brasserie de Rochefort  and the House Beer Mammelokker, a 6.0% Bruin.

inside ‘t Waterhuis aan de Bierkant

After our visit to the Waterhuis we walked next door to sample some of the 200 types of jenever at ’t Dreupelkot.  

 

't Dreupelkot ad and Pol behind the bar

  

 

Pol at ‘t Dreupelkot pouring some jenever

 At ‘t Dreupelkot we were greeted by Pol, a Santa Claus looking character.  We tried the vanilla, the chocolate, the banana and various mixtures of these before we convinced the new jenever junkies in our group to leave the bar!

 After our jenever experience, we took a short walk to De Dulle Griet.

Dulle Griet "Mad Meg" the Red Cannon in Ghent

After we all saw the cannon we went to the “other” Dulle Griet.  

 

De Dulle Griet

Dulle Griet has over 250 different bottle beers on their menu.  Their specialty is their famous “The Max”, which is Kwak from Brouwerij Bosteels poured into a Kwak Yard Glass.   As you may know, these glasses are not cheap, so in order to deter sticky fingered visitors from making them into souvenirs, patrons ordering “The Max” must take off one of their shoes as collateral.  The shoes is then put into a basket and hoisted to the ceiling by a pulley system.  When the glass is returned, so is the shoe! This bar can get crowded, so as a courtesy to your fellow imbibers, if you plan to have a Kwak, wear your odor eaters, please! 

"The Max" at De Dulle Griet

While in Dulle Griet we tried:

St. Bernardus Abt 12, Prior 8 and Rodenbach Grand Cru

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

St Bernardus Prior 8– a Dubbel at 8.0 abv by Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV.

St Bernardus Witbier– 5.5% abv Witbier also from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV.

Bob's 1st ever "tart" beer as he tastes Rodenbach Grand Cru

Rodenbach Grand Cru– a Flanders Red Ale at 6.00% abv from Brouwerij Rodenbach NV 

Bush De Noël

Bush De Noël– a 12.0% abv Belgian Strong Dark Ale from Brasserie Dubuisson Frères

Geuze Boon a Gueuze of 6.0% abv from Brouwerij Boon

Gouden Carolus Classic a Belgian Strong Dark Ale -of 8.5%abv Brouwerij Het Anker.

Janet has the Delirium Tremens and is seeing Pink Elephants

Delirium Tremens a 8.5% abv Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed at Brouwerij Huyghe.

cheers at De Dulle Griet

Afterward we stopped by a nearby bottle shop where a few of us to the opportunity to do a little beer hunting & gathered up few bottle to bring back to the barge as well as back home.

Dinner tonight on the barge was spectacular, we had salmon…

Dinner is served

and we shared a few beers and a few laughs as we reminisced about the day’s adventures.

 Next up is Day 4. We will visit 3 breweries then meet our Barge, the Iris, in Bassrode where we will spend the night before heading to Antwerp and Brussels.

 

 Link for Summary of Day 1

Link for Summary of Day 2

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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.

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Beer # 79 St. Bernardus Tripel

 

St. Bernardus Tripel

Name: St. Bernardus Tripel

Style:  Tripel

Brewery: Brouwerij St. Bernard  website

Country: Belgium

Region:  Watou

ABV: 8.0% Abv

How served: 330ml capped bottle poured into St. Bernardus chalice.       

My Overall Opinion: Amazing. 

I paired this beer with: 2nd beer of the night & used to erase some of the Chapeau Winter Gueuze off my palate.   

Tasted on:  Monday February 22, 2010. 

Note: This is one of my favorite Triples, & I rated this beer for the style.  If you like the Tripel style and haven’t tried this one yet, what are you waiting for?

BTW this did not cleanse my palate from the Chapeau Winter Gueuze, maybe I need something hoppy.  Ok then I’ll try something hoppy next.

From their website: This beer, with high fermentation, has a pale amber colour and a flowery, fruity taste with a harmonious balance between sweet and sour (8% alcohol content).
This beer has a thick and vivid froth and strikes by its balanced taste with a delicate bitterness.

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