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

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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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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Beer # 56 : St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

 

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

 

Name:  St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

Style:   Belgian  Strong Dark Ale

Brewery: Brouwerij Sint Bernardus  website

Country: Belgium

Region:  Watou

ABV: 10.00%

How served: 750ml Corked & caged bottle poured into a St. Bernardus Chalice.     

My Overall Opinion: Amazing.

I paired this beer with: An assortment of food at our neighborhoods 17th annually tractor Christmas parade.   

Tasted on: Saturday December 19, 2009.

Note: A great Christmas beer. A must have beer for the Christmas season and one of my favorites since they first started brewing this beer a few year ago .

On the label:  “Bringing heavenly nectar within reach” “St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is the youngest descendant in the illustrious family of delicious Abbey Ales brewed by brewery St. Bernardus since 1946.  This specialty ale of 10% alc./vol. is characterized by its deep dark color with a creamy, thick head, and a full, almost velvety mouthful with a fruity nose.  It’s a seasonal ale, brewed annually for the Holiday Season.  The long winter nights are perfect moments to savor this ale, with family and friends, and to enjoy its unique, complex taste. “

 From their website:  History
In the most remote corner of West Flanders, in the middle of “Le Plat Pays”, in the heart of the hop area in West Flanders, a beer is made that fancies most of the beer lovers.

In this poetry village, called Watou, time is apparently passing by slower than in the rest of the country. Life over there is different, quieter; where people live in accordance with nature, where tradition and values are honoured as if they stand the tooth of ages. This is the case of the beer brewery for instance.

Due to the anti clerical policy in the beginning of the past century, the Catsberg Abbey Community, located in the northern part of France, decided to move to Watou, a small village only a couple of kilometres further away but located in Belgium. They transformed a farm into the “Refuge Notre Dame de St.Bernard” with the production of Abbey cheese as main production. With the yield of the sales, they financed the Abbey activities.

In the early thirties, the attitude versus the Clerical in France got better and in 1934, the Abbey community decided to dispose of the Belgian annex and to bring back all activities to France.

Mr. Evarist Deconinck took over the cheese factory and built a first building at the Trappistenweg in Watou where the cheese was further developed and commercialised. This first building was later transformed into the present private rooms but the traces of the cheese factory are still visible and incorporated in this living room.

Shortly after the Second World War, the Trappist Monastery St. Sixtus decided to stop to commercialise their beer as they wanted to call upon non-residents.

An agreement was made : inside the walls of the Trappist Monastery there would brew only beer for their own consumption, for sales to the public at the gates of the Monastery and also for a few taverns whom where connected to the Monastery. Mr. Deconinck on the other hand would brew and commercialise the Trappist Beers under licence (for a period of 30 years)

Next to the cheese factory, a new brewery was constructed and Mr. Deconinck started to brew the Sixtus beers with the help of the Masterbrewer of Westvleteren, who brought along his wisdom, knowledge and the original recipes.

In the beginning of the 60’s, the sun-in-law of Mr. Deconinck, Mr. Claus stepped into the brewery and negotiations started to renew the license. This was finalised in 1962, again for a period of 30 years (until 1992)

In 1992, the agreement came to an end because the Trappist Monasteries (5 in Belgium and 1 in the Netherlands) decided that the qualification ‘Trappistenbier’ could only be given to beers brewed inside the walls of the Trappist Monastery.

Therefore, since 1992 the beers brewed at the Trappistenweg 23 in Watou are commercialised under a new brand name ‘ StBernardus’ (referring to the Refuge de Notre Dame de StBernard – cfr. supra).

  This is the 24th of my daily Christmas beer, on my quest for a Christmas beer a day from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  There are now only 5 more beers until Christmas!

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