Hi all this month I thought I would review some beers from the country that have given us chips and mayonnaise, tintin and the saxophone yes you guessed it Belgium.
If anyone managed to get to Simon’s Belgium beer tasting night hopefully this should bring back some memories as some of these beers are heavy hitters in the alcohol stakes.
A quick history of Belgium beer, beer brewing in its basic forms can be traced back many thousands of years as it was an everyday drink as in the UK. Wine was and still is cultivated in Belgium and this lent itself to the brewing process. This is where you get the influences of the wine making process and flavours, such as fermenting in bottles and wine casks. Then later came the migration of German tribes who were trying to escape wars, they bought in their brewing techniques and ingredients, this is where you get the influence of wheat beers. Then comes the important one that unlike other countries like Germany there are no brewing laws so breweries are free to explore flavours and brewing process, this is why there is such variety within Belgium beer.
One other thing you will notice about the beers if you go to Belgium is that they are always served in their own specific glasses. Most are in a tulip type glass which is meant to help the aromas from the beer but also keep a good sized head.
The first beer is a British stab at a Belgium beer and to be honest I think they have nailed it. It’s from Hill side brewery and it’s called Jolly jester and it is made with the jolly jester hop which is English and apparently rare. From the offset you know it could be a fun beer its 9 percent it pours well its amber brown and nicely carbonated. It’s fruity and sweet smelling, and the taste is smooth and crisp, with hints of almost pear drops and banana. This is one to sip slowly and savour the flavour and the “rarity” of the jolly jester hop.
Next up Saison from the Dupont brewery, this beer recipe has been brewed at the brewery since 1844, and used to be served to workers in the fields. Its 6.5 percent and the first thing you will notice after pouring is it’s golden colour almost like a larger. It smells sweet and yeasty, it has a lovely thirst quenching crispness and hints of banana, a nice lingering bittiness to it that becomes moorish.
Then we have the St Feullien Grand Cru almost sounds like a bottle of champagne to me. This is an extra blond beer and you will not be disappointed if you manage to get hold of one of these. It tops the scales at 9.5 percent but to be honest you would not know it was that strong until a few mouth-fulls. It’s very pale in colour and light and delicate smelling, very carbonated and it gives a big head in your glass so pour carefully. When you taste it, it’s delicate, subtle and crisp, with very mild fruity flavours which you would not expect from a beer at 9.5 percent but this then turns into a slight bitter after taste then you get the small hit of alcohol coming back up your throat. I would definitely recommend you try and get a bottle of this.
Next Hopus and this lives up to its name, the brewery Lefebvre has been going since 1876, and run by the same family and is now on its 6 generation. This is amber in colour and gives a nice head when poured. Smell wise its bold yeast almost dare I say I can smell marmite in there, taste wise this also lives up to the Hopus name and is hoppy bitter and bold and really one you just want to keep going back to and having another sip or gulp of. This one is 8.3 percent so not super strong but still one to keep an eye on and definitely one for the hop heads out there.
Next up is one that sparked my interest as soon as I saw that it had honey in it and thought Yuk, but I was in for a surprise. Bar Bar Bok is also form the Lefebvre brewery it’s a brown strong ale with honey at 8.5 percent. It smells yeasty and spicy and tastes slightly sweet, nutty and with a hint of chocolate, but not much if any honey which I was really surprised at. At 8.5 percent I thought it would be a bit harsher in taste but it’s smooth and you would not really know it was this strong, I would definitely have this one again.
Petrus Blond comes out as a lovely golden colour and is not overly carbonated unlike some of the other beers. It’s a very subtle beer with a slightly creamy, sweet taste and crisp on the pallet, this is one for a hot summers afternoon and at 6.6 percent it’s not going to knock you over quickly.
Last up La Trappe witte Trappist, apparently it is the world’s first and only white Trappist ale that continues to ferment after bottling. This is a very light coloured beer and light on flavour as well, with a slight fruit taste which I was disappointed as I was expecting a bit more flavour from this Trappist. Saying that though, I would not be disappointed if this was the only beer in the fridge.
Well I hope I haven’t bored you too much and I would definitely recommend that you try any of these while Simon still has them, you might just find your next favourite beer of the year.
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