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

Beer # 192 Ommegang Art of Darkness

Ommegang Art of Darkness

Name: Art of Darkness

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Brewery:  Brewery Ommegang   website

Country: USA

Region: Cooperstown, New York

ABV: 8.9% abv

How served:  750ml corked and caged poured into a Ommegang glass.

My Overall Opinion: Very Good.

I paired this beer with:  Rotisserie, not baseball but…  chicken with a side of chick bean salad.  Not bad, but then again not many beers wouldn’t pair well with this meal.

Tasted on:  Tuesday June 05, 2012

Notes:  This is a limited and brewed only once beer.

This beer poured an extremely dark brown/black with an impressive 3 finger light brown head which dissipated slowly and left a very nice thick lacing on my glass.

The nose was light but full of dark fruits like plum and raisin with hints of dark chocolate and of the Belgian yeast.       

The taste of this brew starts off on the sweet side with dark fruit flavors like prunes, raisins and dates and a nice hint of candi sugar and dark chocolate. By mid palate the sweetness mellows out and you get some warmth from the alcohol and it ends more on a nice dry note.

The body was light to medium  with a creamy feel with a lively carbonation level which tickles the tongue.

The drinkability was very good especially since the body was light to medium.

Overall this brew could have benefited from a little more body, otherwise it is very good.

On the Label: Art of Darkness unites barley and wheat malts, and flaked oats, Ommegang yeast, and noble hops in a bewitching demonstration of the brewing arts.  Yet there are no secret ingredients nor mystical incantations.   There is only the highest realization of the art of brewing a dark Belgian-style ale of extraordinary flavor, aroma, and balance.  This ale walks the line between being savored now, and being cellared to relish later.  As discerning patron of the dark arts, you can make your own choice.

Pour slowly so as to not disturb the yeast sediment, but with enough vigor to create a luxurious head and release the rich bouquet.  Brewery Ommegang is 3, 624 miles from Brussels, but its heart is right in Belgium. It was created out of our devotion to the unique ales brewed by then country where brewing is an art and partaking is a passion.  Part of the Duvel family of fine ales.   Serve at 50° F/ 10° C

From their website:  Let us now acknowledge the dark arts of brewing. Our limited edition Art of Darkness Ale is deep, dark and magical, with champagne-like carbonation and rich maltiness from a complex recipe of multiple barley and wheat malts, as well as flaked oats.

Using no spices or flavorings, Art of Darkness gains all its rich aromas, tastes, and apparent spiciness from the malts and Ommegang’s proprietary house yeast.

There are no secret ingredients or magical incantation. There is only Ommegang brewers’ creating the finest quality dark, strong ale of complex and deep character.

Art of Darkness is a fine ale to enjoy immediately, and is excellent to cellar.

8.9% ABV

Available for a limited time in 750 ml bottles and 1/6 BBL keg starting in April 2012

Bon Beer Voyage

Beer #191 Struise Rosse by De Struise Brouwers

Struise Rosse by De Struise Brouwers

Name: Struise Rosse

Style: Amber Ale

Brewery:  De Struise Brouwers   website

Country: Belgium

Region: Oostvleteren

ABV: 5.0% abv

How served:  11.2oz capped bottle poured into a De Struise glass.

My Overall Opinion: Very Good.

I paired this beer with:  Nothing…Is that a sin? 

Tasted on:  Sunday June 03, 2012


This beer poured a cloudy orangey/amber with a 2 ½ finger light tan head, which dissipated slowly and left a thin lacing on the glass.       

The nose was full of caramel, malts and candi sugar, as well as some underlying notes of fruits, spices and Belgian yeast.       

The taste was similar to the nose with it starting off on the slightly sweet side with the caramel and malts; midway through it balanced out with some bitterness and I picked up some fruits and spices as this brew finished nice and dry.

The body was on the light to medium side with a refreshing level of carbonation.

The drinkability was very good especially on this hot Florida day.  I think I’ll have another!

On the Label: Interesting errors on the label…75 cl – CAT. 3  Alc 5,0% VOL.  SR No 2 AMBER BREW.  (Note size error on label… it was a 33cl bottle)

Cloudy amberbeer with nice appearance and an expressive nose of roasted nuts with a fine tone of noble beeryeast.  It has a full refreshing taste with a forestlike, dry caracter.  The aftertaste is elegant and very well balanced. (spelling is as per the label )

High fermentation beer, bottle conditioned, unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Ingredients: malt, malted wheat, oats, hops, yeast and candi.

From their website:  Slight hazy amber coloured ale with a fluffy off white head.

The aroma is complex and has touches of malts, nuts, yeast end hops.

The taste is well balanced and has intense flavours of malts, nuts and hops.

The aftertaste is long and ends with a refreshing hoppy note

Bon Beer Voyage

Beer # 190 Clown Shoes Miracle

Clown Shoes Miracle I.P.A.

Name: Miracle

Style: I.P.A.

Brewery:  Clown Shoes   website

Country: USA

Region: Ipswich, Massachusetts

ABV: 5.5% abv

How served:  22oz capped bomber poured into a De Struise glass.   

My Overall Opinion: Good.

I paired this beer with:  a Rib-eye steak topped with A-1 bold and spicy sauce (Tabasco) and a side of Chickpea salad.   You can almost never go wrong pairing an IPA with a steak, &  this pairing was awesome!

Tasted on:  Wednesday May 31, 2012


This beer poured an opaque amber orange with a 2 finger off white head, which dissipated slowly leaving a thin and sticky lacing on my glass.

The nose was light with some citrus notes like orange and lemons mixed with sweet malts and caramel.

The taste was not overpowering and started slightly hoppy/bitter with citrusy grapefruit rind notes and a pinch of pines, then was quickly balanced with a mildly sweet biscuit malty flavor and finished more on the dryer side.

The body was light to medium body & and a nice level of carbonation.

The drinkability was good as this was a light and refreshing IPA.  This IPA might be one of the few IPA’s which those who say they do not like IPA’s might actually like!!!

Overall, this was a great pairing with my steak, but as I.P.A’s go, it was just middle of the road.  That’s not saying this beer wasn’t good, as it was, but there are many other I.P.A’s which I would much rather have.  However if this beer was in front of me… down the hatch it would go & I would enjoy every drop of it!

On the Label:  Our boy Miracle Mike,  represents the good we hope to do with the Clown Shoes  Minor Miracle Fund.  A percentage of the profits from this juicy sessionable IPA will be used to help real people (and maybe a puppy or two).

Mercury Brewing Co.  Ipswich, MA.  Bottled May 2012

From their website:  Our boy Miracle Mike represents what we hope to do with our Minor Miracle Fund. A percentage of the profits from this juicy sessionable IPA will be used to help real people (and maybe a puppy or two).

Bon Beer Voyage

Due South Brewing Co- New Brewery in Boynton Beach, Fl

Due South Brewing Co on Opening Day

The newest brewery to open in Boynton Beach, Florida is Due South Brewing Co.Well it is really the ONLY brewery in Boynton Beach now since Hops Grill and Brewery closed sometime in the mid 2000’s.

They are located between Gateway Blvd and Hypoluxo RD at 2900  High Ridge Rd. #3 Boynton Beach, Florida 33426.  The brewery can be found between Sherwin Williams and Boynton Granite & Marble, with the entrance and parking in the back of the warehouse.  Phone # 561-463-BEER (2337)

Due South Brewing Co is not only the 1st production brewery to open in Boynton Beach, but they have a tasting room as well.  Mike Halker the owner & brewer worked hard and paved the way to get the city to change the local ordinances to now allow a tasting room inside a commercial production facility.  This will make it easier for future breweries and/or commercial food production facilities to sell their wares at the source and this should help the city with tourism.

Opening Day at Due South Brewing Company was on Saturday May 12th 2012.  They opened their doors to the general public at 3pm.    I arrived sometime before 6pm and found a nice sized crowd outside the brewery.

Due South Brewing entrance and “back yard” with the food trucks

Due South Brewery has 3 separate areas for you to enjoy their brews.  Outside the brewery they will be having food trucks arriving for certain events and times during the week.   For their grand opening they had Lucille’s Ribs., Guiseppes, Big Kahuna shaved ice and a Greek food truck.

Inside the Brewery they have 6 taps in the “open” area of the brewery and room for 7 taps inside a smaller “walled off” tasting room.

Due South Brewing Co. The “inside” tasting room, with some great bottle cap art on the walls.

Due South Brewing. The “open” area of the Breweries tasting room. They even have directions to find other breweries.

They had 2 sized pours today, for $2 you got yourself a half pour taste and for $4 you got a full pour.  I tasted all 5 of their tasty beers which they had on tap today, with my top 3 being:

1) Southern Saison 5.6% abv

2) Category 3, an IPA at 6.1% abv

3) Roasted Cocoa Stout, an American Stout at 6.1% abv and brewed with cocoa nibs added and served on a nitro tap.

In addition to my “top 3” they also had on tap

Caramel Cream Ale, 5% abv

Honey Vanilla Wheat, 4.8% abv

Due South Brewing Taps

Due South Brewing opening Day Tap List & Menu

In addition to the Due South “house beers”, they had 8 guess taps on opening day from 3 other Florida Breweries:

Tequesta Brewing Co from Tequesta

Swamp Head Brewery from Gainesville

Cigar City Brewing Co from Tampa

Drink like a Local. Great Concept by the Florida Brewers

Overall it was a fantastic event and I look forward to spend many nights in this local brewery.   Now I can’t wait to find these brews at my local restaurants and bars.

If you haven’t already visited Due South Brewing, makes sure you put this place on your to do list as you will not be disappointed.

Hours are:

Sunday,  Tuesday to Thursday: Noon – 10pm
Friday  & Saturday: Noon – 11pm
Monday:  Closed

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


Brouwerij   Westvleteren

(Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren)

Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV


Westvleteren   Belgium

Watou Belgium






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)



RateBeer Ranking





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


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



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


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

Ideal Drinking




 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…


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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

My Midnight Sun Brewing Beer Fest

Midnight Sun Brewing Co 2009 Crew Brew Tasting

The 2009 Midnight Sun Brewing Co's Crew Brew's Plus some extras

Since my wife will be in Boston this weekend for the “Night of the Barrels” & the “Extreme” Beer Festival I can up with a plan.   To keep me from being home alone and sulking with jealously of her tasting all those great beer I will have my own mini “Extreme Beer Festival” at my house.

Tomorrow I plan on having a few of my closest friends over to share some beers from the Midnight Sun Brewing Co from Anchorage Alaska (which is 4000 miles from my house as the crow flies).   Now these are not just any one of their beers, like I said I wanted a mini Extreme Beer Fest, so I will be featuring all of their brews from their 2009 Crew Brew Series PLUS a few extras.

Here is the low down on these beers from the Midnight Sun Brewing website. 


Espresso Black Bier

9.7 % Alcohol By Volume

17 International Bittering Units (IBUs)

CREATOR = Jeremiah

Beer Description:
Combining jet black color with incredibly smooth texture and decadent coffee flavor, BREWTALITY breaks the expectations of both rich espresso and dark beer to create a whole ‘nuther beast. While brutal in alcoholic strength, this biggie beautifully showcases its roasted malt and coffee flavors without bringing on bitterness and bite. This is the first of two lagers in the series.

“Antidote for Hibernation”

Creator of This Beer:
Assistant Brewer Jeremiah works primarily at Midnight Sun Brewing Company with regular hours at the AK Rock Gym and the occasional shift or two Kaladi Brothers Coffee. To keep up with his weekly work schedule, he enjoys locally roasted coffee in the morning–OK, sometimes in the afternoon as well–and locally brewed beer in the evening– OK, sometimes in the morning as well. This beer brings two of his worlds together as an incredible antidote for hibernation.

“And I don’t need your kiss and hug
I just Chug-a-Lug-O my coffee mug.”
lyrics from Coffee Mug by Descendents
on the Everything Sucks LP, released 1996

AK – draft and 22-oz bottles (orig release 02/20/2009; next release 11/27/09)


Imperial Abbey Ale
brewed with raisins + grains of paradise

8.3 % Alcohol By Volume

25 International Bittering Units (IBUs)


Beer Description:
This deep amber Imperial Abbey Ale melds malt and earth, spice and fruit to create a wonderful vehicle to wind down the day. Belgian yeast contributes flavor notes that accent the raisins and grains of paradise used in the brewing process. With strength and stamina, DESCENT is deliberately impetuous in its mission.

“The Way Down”

Creator of This Beer:
Kourtney, aka K-Dogg…aka K-Tron, is our hotdog boarder|cyclist|brewer. K-Dogg works and plays harder than most…and he’s got the scars to prove it. His beer was inspired by the Belgian beers he enjoys after an incredible day on one of his boards or bikes or in the brewhouse. Created as a tribute to the monk-ethic that produces beautiful beer through spiritual dedication to centuries-old standards, DESCENT celebrates “the way down”.

“We’re all pushing up the tin can mountain top
The smokestack clouds with glory attached.”
lyrics from Motorcade by Beck
on the The Information LP, released 2006

AK – draft and 22-oz bottles (limited release begins 03/20/2009)


Witbier with Brettanomyces

6.25 % Alcohol By Volume

20 International Bittering Units (IBUs)


Beer Description:
This Belgian witbier begins with equal parts malted wheat and pale barley to create its traditional cloudy white appearance. The addition of Brettanomyces gives ANCHOR its trademark “green apple” or “horse blanket” aroma and lends tartness to the flavor and finish. At over 6% ABV, this ANCHOR’s got a bit of more kick than most wits.

“Raise your Anchor”

Creator of This Beer:
Since joining MSBC in 1998, Gabe has worked and mastered the complete gamut of jobs in our brewery. As Head Brewer, he uses his accumulation of brewing knowledge and experience to continually conceptualize and create amazing beers. With oak-barrel aging, a multitude of yeast strains and a plethora of processes in back pocket, Gabe is now experimenting with Brettanomyces and other “bugs”. This beer combines his long-standing favorite beer style, witbier, with his new BFF, Brettanomyces. Raise your Anchor!

“Through churning waters and midnight skies
You were my anchor.”
lyrics from Anchor by Misery Signals
on the Mirrors LP, released 2006

AK – draft and 22-oz bottles (limited release begins 04/17/2009)


Fairway Pilsner

5.2 % Alcohol By Volume

28 International Bittering Units (IBUs)


Beer Description:
This gorgeous golden pilsner is aromatic and flavorful with glorious hops and malt. FAHRWASSER represents the best that summer has to offer.

“Fairway to Heaven”

Creator of This Beer:
Reid is our onsite go-to beer guy who handles the bulk of our to-go beer sales. Reid is a full-time UAA student who manages to sell beer at MSBC, run a side welding business, keep the golf discs flying all year-round & create music with his band, Bushwood. He wrote and performed his song “No 9 to 5”, which resonates his idea of a fairway to heaven.

FAHRWASSER means “fair water” or “fairway”. This inspired pilsner breaks par with every sip.

“My putt is looking good Just like a flying saucer
Bangs like I knew it would I’ll have ein mehr Fahrwasser.”
lyrics from No 9 to 5 by Reid Fenton/Bushwood
on, published 2009

AK – draft and 22-oz bottles (limited release begins 05/15/2009)

Big Slick

American Barley Wine

11.9 % Alcohol By Volume

100 International Bittering Units (IBUs)


Beer Description:
This kick ass American Barley Wine is all about hops —Nugget, Chinook, Simcoe and Centennial. And, yeah, LoTs of ‘em. OK…there’s a substantial malt base on which these juicy Pacific NW hops lie down and do their dirty work. Maybe that’s too much info…

“This Ace-King WiLL Make U Flop. Period.”

Creator of This Beer:
Grant is the guy who presents and represents MSBC beers out in the field. He is solid+steadfast+diligent. But outside of slinging MSBC beer, Grant is a beast on the baseball field. He aaRggGHs it out with the Fairview Pirates of the Alaska Baseball league–holds several records in any given week. And then, there’s poker. Grant knows his way around The River. But even he can’t avoid the temptation of a Big Slick.

BIG SLICK is the best non-paired hand in Texas Hold ’em but veterans advise against betting this combo.

“My wallet’s gettin’ thin and I just lost my watch last night. Well I gotta problem. Just one answer. Gotta throw it all down and kiss it goodbye. YeaH!”
lyrics from Crazy Game of Poker by O.A.R
on The Wanderer LP, released 2001

AK – draft and 22-oz bottles (limited release begins 07/03/2009)


Double Rum Bock

10.0 % Alcohol By Volume

30 International Bittering Units (IBUs)


Beer Description:
This double bock provides smooth sailin’ in rough seas. The fact that this luscious lager was aged in rum barrels creates the illusion that the open sea is a safe place. And while riding out these waves of grain, you may fall victim to the dangers of pirates, rum, bock. OK…maybe the beach is a bit over-rated.

“Wanna RuMBaH?”

Creator of This Beer:
Marko is founder/president/managing member of MSBC. He is a complete psycho about beer although he steers toward the classics: adores IPAs, loves lagers, hates funk. Mark has lead us all on this crazy journey—risking life and lifestyle—to create a company of diligent and dedicated folks who are here for one purpose: The Beer. But Mark is The One with the Cajones. Mark makes The Big Picture happen. Buffett is his hero — beaches, boats, bars — so it’s apropos that he chose “A Pirate Looks at 40” for his beer inspiration song. RUMBAH is smooth and sexy on the surface but it will rough it out of you.

“Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late
The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothin’ to plunder
I’m an over-forty victim of fate”
lyrics from A Pirate Looks at 40 by Jimmy Buffett
on A1A LP, published 1974

AK – draft and 22-oz bottles (limited release begins 09/25/2009)


Black Witbier

6.2 % Alcohol By Volume

17 International Bittering Units (IBUs)


Beer Description:
Close your eyes. The delicate aroma, flavor, texture of this beer whisper “witbier”. Now open your eyes. The color is deceiving. You take another sip. Yes, witbier … but black as night. It is something quite peculiar—BuT it is brilliant—something shimmering and [not so] white.

“Completely Cosmic?”

Creator of This Beer:
Gary is our General Manager. A Mid-West upbringing and strong backgrounds in civil engineering and homebrewing create a basis that is consistent, fair, and knowledgeable in his role at the brewery. Gary is our sounding board. He gives the weekly tour – now on Thursdays at 6 PM – with poise and grace. Gary is a golf fiend, playing justly regardless of the competition or the stakes. That says a lot about him. A longtime fan of The Church, Gary chose this song for its yin and yang: white stars against a black sky. COSMIC is a cool representation of this concept.

And its something quite peculiar,
Something that’s shimmering and white.
Leads you here despite your destination,
Under the milky way tonight”
Lyrics from
Under the Milky Way by The Church
on Starfish LP, published 1988

Check out Lincoln’s commercial for its new SUV, which features Sia singing these same words that Gary’s chose for his song inspiration. It’s 30 seconds.

AK – draft and 22-oz bottles (limited release begins 10/16/2009)


Gruit Ale
brewed with juniper berries and other botanicals

8.0 % Alcohol By Volume

00 International Bittering Units (IBUs)


Beer Description:
This gruit ale was inspired by the Phish song of the same name. A traditional gruit in style, Bathtub Gin was brewed without hops. Instead Ben spiced his beer with botanicals typically used to flavor gin: juniper berries, orris root, angelica root, grains of paradise, lemon peel, orange peel and coriander. The result is intensely fragrant, flavorful and fabulous.

Creator of This Beer:
As Lead Brewer, Ben organizes and orchestrates beer production on a daily basis. His attention to detail results in continuous success. His culinary background lends depth to his expansive knowledge of complementary and contrasting flavors in foods and beers. Ben brings a no BS yet upbeat, positive attitude to the company. He is well-respected as a brewer, beer geek and chef.

“Here comes the joker with his silly grin. He carries a Martini made of bathtub gin”
lyrics from Bathtub Gin by Phish
on Lawn Boy LP, released 1991

AK – draft and 22-oz bottles (limited release begins 12/31/2009)

Belgian-style Double Dubel

13.2 % Alcohol By Volume

45 International Bittering Units (IBUs)

CREATOR = La Femme

Beer Description:
“Double Dubel” is a playful way to say Quadrupel. This strong dark ale was brewed and aged with ancho chilies, which are the dried version of poblanos. Anchos impart earthy, raisin-y, peppery characteristics but not a lot of heat. The result is a complex elixir that pairs well with rich, spiced foods but can also be savored on its own. Because was aged in French oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with ancho chilies for several months before conditioning.

“Because I said so…”

Creator of This Beer:
As VP of Midnight Sun and self-proclaimed “La Femme de Beer”, Barb directs beer style and label design of new/series beers; creates events to bolster business that also provide entertainment value and foster community spirit; writes wacky and not-so-weekly ale-mails that can confuse as much as amuse and educate the reader; and promotes all that is MSBC—its beer, food and folks. Barb generates most MSBC propaganda and authors the web site. She is inspired, fueled and awed by the world of beer.

“I’m tired of whys, choking on whys.
I just need a little because, because.”
lyrics from Fast as You Can by Fiona Apple
on When the Pawn… LP, released 1999

AK – draft and 22-oz bottles (limited release begins 06/13/2010)

ADDITIONAL BONUS Beers from Midnight Sun

Specialty Imports’

30th Anniversary Ale

30th Anniversary Specialty Beer: OAK AGED Black Double IPA

8.5 % Alcohol By Volume

87 International Bittering Units (IBUs)


To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Specialty Imports’ specialty wine and beer import business, Midnight Sun Brewing Company brewed a very special beer–a black double IPA–to honor this Alaska company’s long-term success.

This Specialty Beer Black Double IPA celebrates Specialty Imports’ success in importing and distributing the world’s best wines and beers to the appreciative folks in Alaska. This “Specialty Beer” brings together smooth, dark malts with intense aromatic hops to create a wonderfully balanced yet committed-to-flavor ale. Then this ale was aged in oak barrels for several months.

Availability:    AK – 22-oz bottles (limited release begins 10/23/2009)

** A non-oak-aged version was released in JAN 2009.

2008 Artic Devil

Arctic Devil Barley Wine 2008

13.2 % Alcohol By Volume

20 International Bittering Units (IBUs)

Arctic Devil Barley Wine, aptly named after the ferocious wolverine of the north, is an English-style (meaning malt-inclined) barley wine. Though the recipe and process for Arctic Devil have evolved over the years, it is brewed once a year then aged in oak barrels for several months before the entire batch is blended, bottled and released. Beginning in 2010, ADBW will be released in late SEP.

In its youth, Arctic Devil gnarls and snarls its way across the palate. Containing this beast of a beer for long periods in oak barrels–some having previously aged port, wine or whiskey–tames the unleashed malt and fierce hop flavors, melding and mellowing this powerful liquid into an incredible elixir worthy of a brewer’s table.

Each annual batch of Arctic Devil Barley Wine represents the brewers’ resolve to create an intriguing and sought-after barley wine by precisely brewing to well-designed specifications, carefully selecting the type and combination of barrels to use for aging, and meticulously checking the beer as it ages. Distinct nuance and complexity are contributed by the wood’s previous tenants, resulting in unique flavor profiles in each batch that continue to change over time. We invite you to savor Arctic Devil Barley Wine upon its release then cellar some for future enjoyment.

Midnight Sun’s elusive Arctic Devil Barley Wine is Alaska’s most awarded barley wine.

2009 Artctic Rhino Coffee Porter

Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter

5.0 % Alcohol By Volume

20 International Bittering Units (IBUs)

Inspired by local artist & roaster Michael Allen’s eccentricly-named blend of coffee beans, Midnight Sun’s brewers designed a beer recipe and flavor infusion process that perfectly captures the alluring aroma, satisfying flavor and curious legend of Allen’s Arctic Rhino Coffee Blend.

Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter combines two quintessential Pacific Northwest favorites: coffee and ale. The result is wonderfully romantic and robust–a duel-fueled porter that melds charismatic dark malt with freshly roasted coffee beans.

The (un)rest is up to you.

“Being the sort who likes to balance his stimulants and depressants, I’m fond of a good coffee beer now and then, especially when it’s crafted so the coffee, or the hops, or the alcohol, doesn’t overwhelm the other elements. Like in this ebony beauty. Rich coffee on the nose, but also notes of sweet mocha and dates, and an equal balance of dark chocolaty malt, dark raisin and black plum and, naturally, espresso-ish coffee on the palate. Sure, the java is obvious on the first sniff and sip, but by the time you finish your glass, you may have even forgotten this is a coffee beer, so well integrated are all the flavors.”
by Steve Beaumont in All About Beer magazine, JAN 2010 issue


666 Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel
Belgian-style Golden Ale

8.5 % Alcohol By Volume

35 International Bittering Units (IBUs)


Fallen Angel Golden Ale, first brewed on 6-6-6 [JUN 6, 2006], is named in the tradition of Belgian golden strong ales–after the devil himself. We call this beer our “original sin” because it spawned our 2007 Deadly Sin beer series.

Midnight Sun’s Fallen Angel Golden Ale is a traditional Belgian-style golden strong ale–deep gold in color with tiny, conniving bubbles forming a very thick, meticulous head. Effervescent and crisp, this delicious ale tempts the palate with apple, pear and a little earthy mustiness. Its beauty and brightness is angel-like in appearance but the devil in is its strength.

With its introduction in 2006 and its immediate cult following, Fallen Angel is now brewed and released on a more frequent basis.

Brewery Spotlight: Seventh Sun Brewing

The 2012 Tampa Bay Weekend Beer Safari

Less Than 10 Days Left Until…

We will Visit 5 Breweries, Have 2 Gourmet Beer Paired Dinners, Enjoy a Beer Paired Lunch and much more over our 2 Night Stay in Tampa Bay!

Hurry We Only a Few More Spaces Available Until This Weekend is a Sell Out!

This month’s Brewery Spotlight will be on one of Florida’s newest breweries: 7venth Sun. Read Devon Krebs’ thoughts on opening a new brewery and taste some of their already popular brews during our upcoming Tampa Beer Safari Weekend February 10-12. There are still a few spaces left, so it’s not too late to grab a spot on this incredible beer filled weekend when we’ll be visiting 5 breweries! We’ve also opened up a few seats for the awesome beer paired gourmet dinner at Fleming’s Steakhouse, so if you live in the area and can’t make the tour, we’d love to have you join us for this delicious dining experience! 


Ruth & Mike

Brewery Spotlight

7venth Sun Brewing

Dunedin Florida

After three years planning, Seventh Sun owners Devon Kreps and Justin Stange have recently opened 7venth Sun Brewery in Dunedin, Florida.

Kreps and Stange both come with industry background and are already creating quite the buzz on the Florida Beer Scene.

We are really looking forward to visiting 7venth Sun on our upcoming Tampa Beer Safari weekend. For those of you who can’t join us in person, Devon filled me in on the story of 7venth Sun. As for the beers, well, we’ll have a toast for you while we are there!

BBV: Why the name 7venth Sun?

Devon: I wanted something with the number seven in the name because it’s a lucky number for me. My birthday is on the 7th of January and it’s a number that pops up in my life a lot. So we were looking online to see if we could find anything cool incorporating the number seven and we found the story of the seventh son of the seventh son having mythical powers – we thought that was a cool story and had potential to play into the story of our beer as well. So we went with it and gave it a Florida twist – changing it to Sun from Son.

BBV: What make you decide to open a brewery?

Devon: It’s something we’ve both wanted to do for a really long time. When I was in my first year of college and trying to find a major to study, I was pulled between the arts and science/math. When I found out that Oregon State had a Fermentation Science program I knew I’d found my path. I was already a lover of craft beer and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to meld creativity with science. Justin has been a craft beer lover for a long time too. He started out volunteering at McGuire’s pub in Destin and then followed his dream to Colorado. Eventually he ended up getting a job at Sweetwater Brewing in Atlanta where he worked his way through the entire process and became one of their top brewers. When we moved to Florida, he began working with Cigar City while we did the groundwork for 7th Sun.

BBV: What has best part of the experience for you so far?

Devon: When people tell us they love the beer there is nothing better than that. Our love of great beer is the reason we are here and to be able to create something that other people love too is the best reward there is.

BBV: Is there something you feel that really differentiates 7venth Sun from other craft breweries?

Devon: We have a relatively unique style line up that we feel compliments some of the existing breweries in the area. Our three year round beers are Midnight Moonlight, a Berliner Weise, Saison in Paradise, a French-style saison with grains of paradise and FYA, an Amarillo single hopped Extra Pale Ale. We like to focus on IPA’s and Belgian beers and our small system allows us to do a big variety of things. We also play around with ingredients to have fun with it – like the donut porter – but we are most proud of our traditional styles, some of which are still relatively unknown to most people; like our Berliner Weisse, a tart, light bodied, low alcohol beer, which is a relatively old-style beer from Germany. We like to bring out some of the flavors of this beer by using fruit blends that accentuate the citrus notes and a lot of Florida fruits pair well with this beer. Also, we are beginning work on a barrel aged program that will include both second use whiskey barrels as well as some naked oak and second use wine barrels. We will incorporate a sour beer program in this regiment as well, drawing on our love of the Lambic and Belgian sour beers.

BBV: Where do you see 7venth Sun in 5 years from now? 10?

Devon: We hope that our current small space helps us fund a larger facility. We don’t aim to be an extremely large brewery but maybe hitting somewhere around the 10,000 barrel per year mark. The timing of that will depend much upon how things progress for us, especially as we roll out distribution.

BBV: Anything exciting coming up or any other news you want to share with our readers?

Devon: We are looking to roll out distribution of our beer to coincide with the very recently created Tampa Bay Beer week which takes place from March 3rd to March 10th. In addition to having our beer roll out in select accounts we will also be participating in a number of beer events that are currently in planning for the Tampa Bay area.

Seventh Sun Brewing is located at 1012 Broadway, Dunedin, FL 34698

Hours:  Wed & Thurs:  5pm to Midnight; Fri  & Sat:  Noon to Midnight & Sun: Noon to 10pm

Join Us for Some Sunshine, Sights & Suds

on Florida’s West Coast February 10-12, 2012

During The 3rd Annual


  • Gourmet Beer Paired Meals
  • Five Brewery Visits
  • Private Tours &Tastings
  • Ghost Tour
  • Manatees & More!

 Learn More About our Tampa Beer Trip

This trip makes a great Valentine’s getaway! Plus, it’s in sunny Florida in the middle of winter, what more could you ask for?

Don’t Miss out! Register Today! 

Beer #189 Val-Dieu Grand Cru

Val-Dieu Grand Cru

Name: Grand Cru

Style: Quadruple

Brewery:  Brasserie de l’Abbaye du Val-Dieu   website

Country: Belgium

Region: Aubel

ABV: 10.5% abv

How served:  750ml corked and caged bottle poured into an Abbeye de Leffe chalice.

My Overall Opinion: Amazing.

I paired this beer with: Steamed salmon with onion garlic pan roasted potatoes.  Yummy!!!

Tasted on:  Monday January 30, 2012

Notes:  Cork read best by 03/2009.  So this bottle is about 5 years old.

This beer poured an opaque deep brownish black with a 2 finger light brown head which dissipated quickly leaving a thin lacing on my glass.

The nose was mixed with caramel, raisins (plus other un-named dark fruits) cotton candy and faint chocolate.

The taste was slightly sweet with dark fruits like raisins & figs; caramel and brown sugar with hints of chocolate and toffee finishing more on the dryer side.

The body was of a light to medium body & extremely creamy and smooth with minimal carbonation; it was as if this beer had come from hand drawn cask.

The drinkability was amazingly smooth and easy to drink for a 10.5%abv brew; it drank like a 5-6%er.

Overall, is one of the better Quadruples in the marketplace  Find it, drink it, enjoy it…then compare it to the best rated Quads you’ve had and you’ll see for yourself why I feel this under the radar and under hyped  brew is so damn good!!!!!!

On the Label:  This authentic Abbey Ale is based on the recipe perfected centuries ago by the monks of Abbey Val-Dieu.

From their website:  Un petit bout d’histoire ?

The abbey of Val-Dieu was built 1216 by Cistercian monks. They were looking for a lone valley with a stream for agricultural and brewing activities, a haven of peace full of nature. Cistercian orders are well-known abroad for their brewing skills. The monks of this abbey made no exception to this rule.

Because of the numerous hazards encountered by the abbey over time (fire, destruction, expulsion of the monks during the Napoleonic revolution), monks have not always been able to brew. That explains why their beer production remained limited to the local level.

Fortunately, since 1997, the farm has discovered the typical roar of the brewery again. The only difference with the past is that beers are nowadays brewed by a layman. Moreover, the beers of Val-Dieu are brewed in the former agricultural exploitation.

Reinstalled 1997 in the abbey itself, the brewery took inspiration from the receipts formerly used by the brewers-monks of Val-Dieu to make this tradition last. Of course, those receipts had to be adapted to the raw materials and techniques of today.

Nowadays, our beers are real abbey beers, of high fermentation, not pasteurized, simple, without seasoning and brewed according to the old infusion method.

That is why the small stamp opposite can be found on the labels of our beers. This stamp proves the veracity of our products. To know more about it, go and visit the belgian brewers’ confederation.

Tradition, however, does not only apply to our beers. The “pays d’Aubel” is full of products that are emblems of the culinary tradition of the region. In the surrounding orchards, apples are growing which will be used to produce cider and “sirop de Liège“. The livestock which grazes in the green patures will offer you delicious delicatessen. Those are all reasons why you should visit the beautiful “pays d’Aubel” and discover its marvels.

Bon Beer Voyage Presents:

Bon Beer Voyage Presents:

The Ultimate Beer Connoisseur & Foodie Dining Experience!

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Bon Beer Voyage Invite You to Join us in Tampa, Florida for a 4 Course Gourmet Beer Paired Dinner

February 10, 2012 7:00 PM

2011 Bon Beer Voyage Dinner at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse

This dinner is part of our 3rd Annual Tampa Beer Safari Weekend Tour. For those of you who cannot join us for the whole tour, we have opened up a limited number of seats for this dinner and look forward to seeing you there!


 First Course

Mission Bay Sea Scallop

Truffled popcorn, bacon cream sauce, arugula salad

Paired with:

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, Farmhouse Ale, Brooklyn, New York

Second Course

Malheur Spring Salad

Julienned Pears and Gala apples, tossed in Orange Sriracha vinaigrette,

finished with candied walnuts and grape tomatoes

Paired with:

Malheur 10, Brouwerij De Landtsheer NV, Belgium

Third Course


5-spiced spaetzle, Szechuan peppercorn demi

Paired with:

Cigar City Maduro, American Brown Ale, Tampa, FL

Fourth Course

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

Russian imperial ganache, raspberry port crème anglaise

Paired with:

Samuel Smith, Russian Imperial Stout, Tadcaster, England

$76.50 per person includes tax & gratuity

Limited Seating – Reserve Today!

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