Tag Archives: Belgium

Day 20 – Brouwers Verzet – Oud Bruin

 

To begin, I’d like to note that tomorrow, December 21st, starting at 4pm Half Pints will be having it’s 12 beers of Christmas event at their taproom. This looks like it’ll be a lot of fun, so go check it out. They have details on their Facebook page.

Today, we have a beer coming to us from Brouwers Verzet in Anzegem, Belgium. It’s a traditional style of beer called an Oud Bruin. The name of this beer is Hip Hops Oud Bruin.

In 2008 three friends, Alex, Joran and Koen, made their way to the brewery school located in Ghent. After training in the craft and learning what it meant to be a brewer and to run a brewery, all found jobs at professional breweries and began honing their craft. After some time, they developed an itch to do their own thing and try their own recipes. They began experimenting in their own time and brewing interesting beers as a diversion. This is where the name “Brewers Resistance” comes from.

After getting rave reviews from friends and family, and seeing the demand for the beers they were making grown, the three friends decided to take the leap and go head first into the business. So, in 2011 the brewery was born. While they do not have a space of their own, they brew their beers out of other local breweries under the watchful eye of experienced brewmasters. They are left to experiment and create their own beers, but they are given guidance and assistance in doing so.

Oud Bruins (Old Brown) are a traditional Belgian style of beer that are malty, fruity, aged and somewhat sour. The beer is produced through the blending of a young and an aged (at least 1 year) beer which adds smoothness and complexity and balances out any harsh sour character. Oud Bruin can be used as a base for fruit-flavored beers such as kriek (cheeries) or frambozen (raspberries).

This beer takes an aged old beer and young beer and blends them together before further aging them for 6 months in oak barrels. The style is maltier in character than a Flanders Red Ale and less acetic. Historically this style was more sour than commercial examples today and traces its origins back to the Liefman brewery in the 1600s. Historically brewed as a “provision beer” that would develop some sourness as it aged. While Flanders Red Beers are aged in oak, Oud Bruins are typically warm aged in stainless steel. I’m curious, time to give this beer a try.

Appearance – Pours a hazy reddish brown with an effervescent head that is gone quickly.
Smell – Smell is of malt, oak, red fruit, and apples. It has an almost wine character to it.
Taste – Moderate sweetness up front with a crisp tartness. The oak notes come through subtly here as does the green apple and red fruit. The crisp tartness of this beer is refreshing.
Mouth feel – Medium-light body with an effervescent carbonation and a tart crisp finish.
Overall – Nice beer. Given this beer was aged in Oak barrels, a lot of notes were similar to Flanders Red Ales I’ve had. Given the name of this beer “Hip Hops” I had expected there to be some more hop aroma/bitterness in this beer. Whatever hop notes there may have been were overpowered.
Do I like it?
– I did. What’s interesting in researching this style is that Oud Bruins are normally aged in stainless steel. Given this was aged in oak, similar to a Flanders Red Ale, I found some of the characteristics to be similar to that style more than an Oud Bruin. Still, it was tasty and I rather enjoyed it.

 

Day 14 – Oud Beersel – Bersalis Sourblend

I can’t believe how close we are getting to the end of the calendar. It seems like just yesterday I was cracking open the first square and beginning this path. Now, more than half-way through, we are 10 days from the end and 11 from Christmas day (for those who celebrate).

Day 14 brings us a beer from Oud Beersel (another repeat brewery)called “Bersalis Sourblend”. This is a blend of a traditional Lambic and a Belgian blonde that has been aged in barrels. It sounds delicious and I’m excited to try it.

The brewery, Oud Beersel, was founded in 1882 and is located in Beersel, 10km away from Brussels city centre in the southwest of the city. This brewery is one of the last remaining authentic lambic breweries and is well known for its lambic beers and its traditional brewing methods.

The brewery almost shut down at the end of 2002 as there was a lack of succession planning on behalf of the family who ran the brewery. There was a public shock at the potential loss of a historical, cultural and traditional brewery and in 2005 the brewery was taken over and brewing began once more. The reason, to protect the time-honoured tradition of lambic beers as well as the historical and cultural heritage of the brewery. Pretty awesome to see. They have a storied history, outlined here.

Lambics are a style of beer that has traditionally been brewed in Belgium. These beers are brewed using spontaneous fermentation, using microflora from the air rather than harvested brewers yeast. Lambic matures up to three years in wooden barrels, whereupon it is blended to make Oude Geuze. Sour cherries undergo fermentation in lambic beer and after a second fermentation in the bottle Oude Kriek is born. This unique brewing process with spontaneous fermentation is possible in Belgium in the Pajottenland region, the Zenne Valley and in Brussels, because of the presence of a specific microflora.

As for a Blonde, we’ve seen on of these before. They are moderate strength golden ales with a mild fruit and spice note from the Belgian yeast with a slightly sweet malty flavour and a dry finish. These are a relatively recent beer style that was made to further appeal to European Pilsner drinkers and has become much more popular.  These beers are similar in strength as a Dubbel, similar character as a Belgian Strong Golden Ale or Tripel, although a bit sweeter and not as bitter.

Appearance – Pours a hazy pale gold with a good 2” rocky head.
Smell – Smells of pear, apples, yeast funk and bready malt.
Taste – Starts sweet with a slightly metallic tartness. This brings in hints of fruit, citrus and funk. Finishes moderately bitter with a good crisp tartness.
Mouth feel – Medium-light body with a good carbonation and a nice tart finish.
Overall – The strong ale blended with the lambic is overpowering in what it brings. The lambic notes are subdued. While the beer presents notes of the blended styles, neither is the star and so it falls a bit flat.
Do I like it?
– I did like. While there was some things I found a bit off-putting, the metallic note to be one, I enjoyed the beer overall.

 

Day 10 – Biir – Equinox Triple IPA

Well, today was a busy day. Even though it is a Saturday, I still had to get up and go to work. It was busy. On the weekends, I really enjoy getting to spend time with my daughter and wife and relax a bit. Luckily, I get to do that now.

Today’s beer comes to us from a Spanish brewery, Biir, and is a Triple IPA. What’s interesting about the beer is that even though the brewery is in Barcelona, Spain, this beer was brewed in Zichem, Belgium.

I’ve written about Evil Twin last year in the advent calendar and mentioned that he brews beers all over the world in collaboration with other breweries. Today’s brewery, Biir, is similar in many respects. One of their main goals as a brewery is to collaborate with others. Run by three friends, Albert Galan, Gunther Bensch, and Pere Mora, Biir doesn’t produce all of it’s beers in the same brewery. This Triple IPA, as I mentioned, was brewed in Belgium, while others have been brewed in Spain, and another brewed in collaboration with a brewery in Singapore.

While this may be one aspect of the brewery, they are often interested in creating unique and interesting beers. They’ve brewed this Triple IPA, a Belgian Style Dark Ale that’s been hopped up, A sweet and sour beer and an Oude Geuze. Not really sticking to any style in particular, they try different things and expand their horizons. They’ve got some delicious sounding beers and I’d be interested in trying many of them.

The beer we have today is a Triple IPA and is described by the brewery as such:

Inspired by Californian Triple IPA, we have brewed this extreme beer for the most exigent beer lovers, with lots of malts and Equinox hops. Despite it’s alcohol volume and bitterness, it’s a very well balanced beer.

Now, to be fair, a Triple IPA is really a bit of a misnomer. I’d describe it as likely being a top end Imperial IPA and many of the characteristics will be the same. The style of Imperial IPA, is a beer that is an American craft beer invention that began in the 1990s. Craft breweries were trying to “push the envelope” on their beers and appease the hop aficionados who were growing ever more interested in the flavor and variety that this plant can provide. By the 2000s this style had become much more mainstream and provides a way for brewers to experiment and be creative with hops. The adjective “Triple” really doesn’t mean anything other than this beer is stronger than a regular IPA and likely on the upper range of an Imperial IPA. You will see “Imperial” used quite regularly as well. It’s the same style.

The style should be intensely hoppy and strong with an IBU (international bitterness unit) range of 60-120, an ABV of between 7.5% and 10% with a lighter colour. Drinkability of the style is important and it should be well balanced with strong malt backbone and residual sweetness. Triple IPAs would be pushing to the upper end of this range and this bee, coming in at 9.4% for a 330ml bottle is certainly close.

Appearance – Hazy, pale amber, with a ridiculous head that just won’t go away.
Smell – Resin, pine notes, pineapple, and grapefruit from the hops, caramel notes come in from the malt at the end.
Taste – Up front, in the face, resinous citrusy hop bitterness that quickly transitions into a nice sweet malty caramel with that lingering resinous/grapefruit bitterness.
Mouth feel – Medium bodied, slightly oily mouthfeel, lingering bitterness, subtle alcohol warmth.
Overall – Very hoppy, good malt balance, alcohol content hardly noticeable for this 9.4% ABV beer. Big hop flavour balanced with good malt backbone is a pretty darn good Imperial IPA.
Do I like it?
– Yes. While I don’t always seek out IPAs these days anymore, I do still enjoy good ones. I’m still interested in trying beers where they’re doing something out of the ordinary. A triple IPA certainly is. Well balanced, great hop bitterness, very much enjoyed day 10s beer.

 

 

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 16

Beer 16

My wife thinks that as this beer calendar progresses I am becoming more difficult when it comes to my reviews.  I was thinking about it, and I honestly might be.  Not because I am treating the beers differently, I believe, but because I am trying so many fantastic beers it is difficult not to compare them to one another.

There are 3 more beers until I am off for my travelling. Today’s beer comes to us from the beer-soaked land of Belgium. Oud Beersel brewery brings to us their Belgian Ale “Bersalis Kadet.”

The brewery started in 1882 and is located about 10 km from the Brussels city centre in the southwest of the capital. It is one of the last remaining authentic lambic breweries and is known of its lambic beer brewed in the tradition brewing method.

Lambic matures up to 3 years in wooden barrels before being blended to make Oude Geuze, which is the young form, or first fermentation of the lambic beer.  Sour cherries undergo fermentation in this immature lambic beer and after a second fermentation Oude Kreik is created, which is the matured version of this beer. This spontaneous fermentation and unique brewing process is possible because of the presence of special micr-oorganisms in the region.  It is only possible in this region due to the existence of what they call “wild yeast” native to the Zienne valley where Brussels is located.

Luckily for me, because we’ve already tried a beer like this (Krampus), this particular beer brewed by Ould Beersel is a Belgian Ale that is brewed in the standard method. It is a Belgian beer brewed in the style of a lager.  Lagers are a type of beer that is fermented and conditioned at low temperatures.  The most common one consumed is a pale lager but other types include pilsners, and Märzen style lagers.  Let’s give this one a try!

Rating: 73/100

Appearance:  Clear golden brown/amber hue with significant head that retains very well.
Smell: Yeasty on the nose with caramel malts and grassy/lemony notes from the hops.
Taste: Cool and crisp with a dry finish.  Slight fruitiness with a good sweet from the malt and a dry bitter finish from the hops.  Good summer beer very reminiscent of a pilsner in flavor with its lightness and dry crispness.
Mouth feel: Light body with crisp carbonation.
Overall: Crisp, cool and refreshing this beer certainly brings a lot to the table.  The sweetness is not overpowering but nor is it really there.  There is some lacking in the flavor department as things tend to drift off as you get to the finish.  While dry and bitter from the hops, it’s not really anything noticeable.  This beer is good, but it lacks overall for other beers of the category..
Do I like it: I did enjoy the beer.  It was refreshing.  The flavors, while not overly noticeable, were still appealing and provided a nice good beer to go with a meal.  It’s like they say, you don’t want a beverage to overpower your meal.  This one would certainly be a good food beer as it allows the flavor of the food to come through.