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

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Beer #153 Popering Hommel Bier

 The Beer I forgot I had in My Refrigerator & I’m Sure Glad I found It! 

 

Popering Hommel Bier

 

Name:  Popering Hommel Bier

Style: Belgium IPA                      

Brewery: Brouwerij Van Eecke N.V.   website

Country: Belgium

Region: Watou

ABV: 7.5% Abv

How served:  750 ml corked & caged bottle poured into a Maredsous glass.           

My Overall Opinion:  Very Good.

I paired this beer with: Grilled tilapia topped with a lemon zest and spicy olive oil.

Tasted on:  Wednesday January 12th, 2011  

Note: This beer poured a hazy straw color with a fluffy 2 finger off white head which left a thick lacing on the glass.   The nose was of sweet citrus, leaning towards orange.  The taste starts off slightly sweet but ends up dry.  In-between you pick up some spices and orange/lemon zest.  In this beer you have what might be a Belgian tripel turned hoppy.  The mouthfeel had a medium creaminess with a good carbonation level which tickled your tongue.  The drinkability was very good and refreshing with no hint of the 7.5%abv hidden in this beer.    This is a top notch Belgian IPA.  This beer improved greatly as it warmed up & I like the way the yeast improved on the flavor in the last pour from the bottle.

 From their website:  Poperings Hommelbier      

Despite the high quality of the abbey beer Het Kapittel, the favourite of the brewery remains POPERINGS HOMMELBIER.

In the area of Poperinge, which is a little town in the west of Belgium, harvesting hops is a main industry and art.  In the local dialect hommel means hop and therefore we have used the dialect to give our product a name: Poperings hommelbier.  In order to brew this beer, we use a blend of 3 types of hops.  In addition, the presence of hops in the beer are strong, enhancing its flavour and refreshing, slightly bitter taste.  Hommelbier is a beer with secondary fermentation in the bottle. Therefore, a layer of ferment is still present at the bottom of the bottle. This beer has a unique distinction of being a completely natural beer. In order to stir the layer of ferment, the beer is gently served in a glass, preferably at a temperature between 6°and8°C. We suggest keeping the bottles upright. Before serving the beer, bottles should be stored in a cool place, until they have reached the desired temperature.

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

 

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.

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