International Beer Day!!

How are you going to celebrate?

Find your nearest spot to celebrate world-wide here:

http://www.internationalbeerday.com/

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My Last TRUE Belgian: Brasserie de Cazeau Tournay de Noël

Sad, but true.  This is the last of three beers purchased at Brasserie de Cazeau, packed in my own luggage and brought the 4000 mile journey to be enjoyed in the company of my brother.

Tournay de Noël

Tournay de Noël:  8.5%abv  Suggested serving temperature +/-10C  50F.

I was going to enjoy this beer no matter what it tasted like.  Poured from a large 75CL bottle it gained a large, thick tan head that was dense and held a good lace.  Extremely dark in color-almost coffee like.  Tones of roasted malt, yeast and a wonderful sweetness fill the nose.  All these complex aromas are equally present in the flavor of the beer.  Added are tones of coffee and chocolate, but not so much as a porter might have.  As most Noël beers, this one has a very faint spiciness to it, like spiced wine.  Maybe I am partial to this beer for all the trouble I went through getting it back to the states, but it is and was a fine beer and really exemplified what a Belgian Dark Ale is supposed to be.

After draining the very last drop of truly imported beer(I like to think it was the only one in the states, probably again for all the “trouble” I went through to obtain it)  all I want to do is return to Belgium and pack my bags solely with unpasteurized/unfiltered liquid gold.  In all reality I probably should not have drunk the damn thing.  Well, until next time…

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New Blog For American Beers

So, the last few beer reviews have been strictly from the US.  TO maintain a proper distinction amongst beers and the countries they come from I am moving all blog posts relevant to American brewing to a new site.  www.beercrusader.wordpress.com.  It will alleviate any issues you may have with this blogs title and what is actually being written about.  So stay tuned and keep sipping, generously.  Thanks for the support and thank you for reading.  I am excited for what lays ahead and look forward to sharing the experiences.

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500km For Two Beers (Part II)

I really did take the ridiculously long route to Wesvleteren and only ended up drinking two beers on the premises and was unable to purchase anything to take away.  I also had a plan to stop at an additional brewery on the way back, I couldn’t go all that way and not have a backup plan.

Archway to Brasserie de Cazeau

Stop number two:  Brasserie de Cazeau; Templeuve, Belgium.  I was first introduced to this brewery in Brussels at a bar called Moeder Lambic, one that provides 47 beers on tap at any given time.  Luckily I had a GPS and the correct address, because when it told me too take a turn through a field of Brussels Sprouts I was quite skeptical.  After winding through fields of corn and sprouts on, basically, one-lane roads for about 10 minutes I was getting very worried I had done something wrong.  Being resilient I wandered on and eventually came to a very old farm building with the correct address, as well as a sign reading Brasserie de Cazeau, I made it.  My contact here had told me they would be brewing beer this day and that I would be able to purchase their beer freely on arrival.  I guess I was expecting something different -I always tend to do so.  Entering the farm I walk through a small driveway arch and into a large courtyard.  Slightly confused I search for anything that resembles a brewery- then hear the sounds of water being added to large vats and notice a large stack of bottle cases, bags of half-opened barley and various stainless steel apparatus.  I must be in the right place.  There is a set of steps that lead into a room with large wooden and stainless brewing vats, I enter, as I still have not seen anyone.  Following the sounds of work noises I happen upon a man in knee-high rubber boots standing on a ladder with a hose in hand filling one of another group of large vats.  This must be my man.  Laurent is his name and he disrupts his work to assist me in procuring some of his product.  I ask him a few questions and he replies quite honestly.  I then ask how the purchasing works, as I fear there may be a minimum purchase.  There is not.  Quickly I determine he has three beers available and that I should probably just go for all of them.  After a few minute wait he emerges with a cardboard box holding six-75cl bottles-two of each kind available at the moment.  There is another, the one I had in Brussels, but it is only brewed in the spring with the emergence of the elderberry flower-something that makes a large presence in the beer.  For today I walk away with the Cazeau Tournay Blonde, Cazeau Tournay Noire and Cazeau Tournay de Noël.  Tournay being the closest large village to the brewery and Cazeau being the street it is brewed on.

As of yet this moment the blonde is the only beer I have tried.

Noire, Blonde, Noël

Cazeau Tournay Blonde: 6.7%abv  Suggested serving temperature 8-10C 46-50F.

Poured from a 75cl bottle and shared with a few friends I had not seen for a while.  Color is a dark, opaque golden.  Thick looking body and a slight foamy head rests on the beer.  Aromas of malt and hops.  Tasting reveals the thick body as well as a natural sweetness.  Tones of yeast and a slight bitterness from the hops.  It is a beer that is definitely worth trying and sharing with those who don’t get to experience beer like this-unpasteurized and unfiltered.  Will update you on the others when possible.

 

Beersofeurope has gone to the US and will be reviewing some of the local beers here once back online-a small hiatus is needed to arrange a few things

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The Day I Drove 500km For Two Beers…

There is a reason some people do things to the extreme, whether it is for the rush or to say they have done something only very few others have done.  The latter was my reason for driving to the Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Westvleteren, Belgium.  Here is where the holy grail of beers is produced; Westvleteren Trappist.  One that is not sold in stores, not served at pubs and definitely not advertised-other than being one of the six Belgian Trappist beers.  Additionally one must make an appointment if they want to purchase beer from the Abbey (one made, generally, two-weeks in advance).  With this appointment you are allowed two cases of 24 bottles of beer.  There are three types brewed by the Cistercian monks here-Blonde, 8 and  12 (both brown beers); which vary in almost every way imaginable.  I, however, was without this very important detail and decided to take the long journey on my last day in Belgium.  I had heard that it may be possible to purchase a six-pack of the beer without the appointment and was willing to attempt this feat.  I also knew that there was a pub/restaurant on the abbey grounds and that no matter what happened I would at last be able to consume the much sought after beer(s).  Arriving at 9:45am I had to wait until 10am for the abbey’s pub doors to open.  I will not lie, my interest for this journey had little to do with the abbey and the brewers of the beer but for the beer itself.  Although, I did find out visitors do not have access to the brewery or abbey either way.  I also had a wander and noticed that the abbey must be doing quite well for itself as there was brand new construction occurring everywhere-even what looked like a large, new chapel.  The monks here make money for their Abbey not only by brewing amazing beers, but also making cheese and pâté-both of which I purchased.

Trappist map of Belgium

Your choices are...

As for the beers, once gained access to the bar area, where I was the only patron at 10am,  I was greeted and immediately ordered the 12 which is deemed a “quadruple”-

…Quadrupel is a Belgian style ale of great strength with bolder flavor compared to its Dubbel and Tripel sister styles. Typically a dark creation that ranges within the deep red, brown and garnet hues. Full bodied with a rich malty palate. Phenols are usually at a moderate level. Sweet with a low bitterness yet a well perceived alcohol. -BeerAdvocate

Westvleteren 12

Westvleteren 12: 10.2%abv  Suggested serving temperature 14C  57F

Poured from a label-less brown bottle-where the only indication of which beer it is, comes from the cap color.  It is a dark, rich brown color with a creamy beige head that dissipates to a small lingering foam, creating a small lace on the glass.  Aromas of malt, slight hints of caramel and alcohol.  Tastes are of malt/roasted barley, caramel-like tones with a dense, tingly carbonation-and again slight tones of alcohol.  It also has a dry quality that allows one to taste the  sweetness and slight bitterness at the end of each sip.  Late into the beer I get earthy tones due to the beer being unfiltered and unpasteurized, as all Trappists are.  It is a fine beer for sipping and enjoying slowly, especially with its 10.2%abv.

Westvleteren 8:  8%abv  Suggested serving temperature 14C 57F.

When poured it takes two attempts due to a thick dense foam that accumulates very quickly-creating a much thicker lace.  It pours even darker than the Westvleteren 12.  Aromas of hops are what set this one apart from the 12, it also has a sweeter, sugary smell to it.  Initial taste indicates that it is a lighter bodied beer and lighter, airy carbonation.  There is a certain creaminess, where this dense carbonation adds a complexity to the beer, blending the flavors and body within the beer more seamlessly.  Also a slight, not unpleasant, bitter finish where the 12 had a more earth sourness to it.  Comparing these beers is not possible and should not be done.  They are different styles achieving different goals.  These beers are both wonderful in what they are able to achieve.  Being different from one another shows the abilities the brewers have in creating different styles for different purposes.  I enjoyed both equally.  Whether they are the best beers on this earth, I can not tell you, having only begun my exploration into the world of beer.

Westvleteren 8

So, while I did drive the 500km round-trip route for these two beers there was another stop on this day.  I had researched additional brewers in the area and had decided to visit Brasserie Cazeau, a trip I will share with you tomorrow.  Thanks for your patience on these erratic posts, but things are changing in the beersofeurope world.  We will be going to the US for the next few weeks, exploring and searching for the best micro beers of the Midwest.  Today was a good day.

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Beer A Day: Mort Subite Gueuze

Yes, “Sudden Death” is the translation of this brewer, and I always feel kind of special when there is a beer with a cork in it.

Wild, man.

Mort Subite Gueuze:  4.5%abv  Suggested Drinking temperature 2-4C  35-37F.

Gueuze, in name and style is a unique blend of young( 1 year-old) and old (2-3 year-old) Lambics.  Because the younger beer has not had time to fully ferment there are unique sugars available for the second fermentation process to take place.  Another unique step in brewing for these beers is the aged hopping, which does not yield the traditional hop flavor and smell as a regular beer.  And, lastly, there is the fact that these beers depend on “spontaneous fermentation”, where “…the unfermented wort is allowed to be colonized by microorganisms present in the environment.”-wikipedia

Most of these beers are bottled in champagne-like bottles with a massive beer cork.  It gives it a more rustic feel for me.  Gueuze, in particular, are renowned for the sour, musty flavors and aromas, due to the spontaneous fermentation process-it literally has wild animals growing in it.  This beer poured quite thin and there was a delayed thin, white head on top that dissipated almost immediately.  There is a compact, almost champagne-like, carbonation to it.  Flavors are sweet and musty at the same time.  Definitely a bit sour, cider like in a way.  Gives me a bit of dry mouth as well as a chalky-feel on the backs of my teeth, (wild yeasts clinging on for dear life?)  It is worth a go if you are an adventurous beer drinker.  I myself will stick with the malty, hoppy, yeasty beverages minus the fruit-especially after this week.  Still one or two more of these sweet things to review then back to a normal diet of beer-beer.  Oh yeah, so Mort Subiteis a subsidiary of Brouwerij De Keersmaker, makers of nothing but sweet lambics.

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Beer A Day: Lindemans Pecheresse

Peche=Peach.

Lambic fever.

Pecheresse:  2.5%abv  Suggested serving temperature 2-3C  35-37F.

Only just now did I notice the insanely low alcohol content.  I suppose this beer is packaged quite elaborately for its flavors as opposed to a tool for becoming intoxicated.  Additionally it was corked in the small 37.5cl bottle-a first for me.  Pours a deep golden color that is quite opaque.  Kind of a peaches and cream aroma to it.  The carbonation is quite compact and leaves a very soft white foam afloat the beer.  It is another of the favorite Lambic-styled beers-spontaneous fermentation, remember.  It is quite sweet, overwhelmingly peachy and also quite smooth with a slight acidic edge at the end of each sip as well as there being a musty/natural taste-almost cork-like.

May have to ask someone on whether this is something that children are introduced to at a younger age to get a feel for alcohol…Again it is a quite refreshing beer for a warm afternoon, although the sweetness may cause me to share this bottle with someone in the future, should I try it again.

So, Lindemans is a brewery that specializes in Lambic-fruit beer and Geuze, a specialty of Brussels.  Look for it later in the week.

Do enjoy some beer while you wait.

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