OK, so that last one was not much of a beer-this one is a regional classic.
Lindemans Kriek: 3.5%abv Suggested serving temperature 2-3C 35-37F, well chilled.
Here is a traditional Lambic style beer from Belgium. Kriek or cherry flavored beers are widely available here, with varying qualities.
“Unlike conventional ales and lagers, which are fermented by carefully cultivated strains of brewer’s yeasts, lambic beer is produced by spontaneous fermentation: it is exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are said to be native to the Senne valley, in which Brussels lies. It is this unusual process which gives the beer its distinctive flavour: dry, vinous, and cidery, usually with a sour aftertaste.”-wikipedia
To me this is the origin of brewing, accidental fermentation of a beverage. The other technique used in Lambic styles is the mixing of old and new batches to create the finished product.
Having only a modest alcohol content, this beer is meant to be drunk quite cold, I put it in the freezer for an hour. Lacking any real head/carbonation due to its brewing process, it has more of a soda body to it. Quite syrupy and thick on the palate. Dominate flavor and aroma is definitely dark cherry. It is quite dry and very sweet. Something to be sipped as long as it stays chilled. I am no expert on these types of beer, maybe at the end of the week, but it is definitely more enjoyable than whatever that last one I reviewed was (I half contemplated erasing that review due to my being worried about getting shunned out of any real beer connoisseur circles) . It will stand as a test to the rest of the week improving. I found a new store and a great variety of Belgian beers and lambics.
For this week we will be going through various examples of Belgium’s well-known fruit-styled beers. Framboise (raspberry), Kriek/Cerise (cherry) and Geuze (an open vat fermented beverage yielding a cidery-type beer). Other examples are what the Wallonie (Belgian Francophones) call a mazout (Jupiler and cola), panache (Jupiler and lemonade/white soda) or tongo (Jupiler and grenadine syrup); which all yield a slightly sweeter beer-and are regularly available throughout Belgium.
Today we go for a fruit beer.
Liefmans Fruitesse: 4.2%abv Suggested serving temperature cold.
It may be hard to define this as a true “beer” in the fact that the ingredients include matured cherries, raspberry, bilberry, elderberry and strawberry-as well as “sweetner”? Not sure what that means. It continues to say that it also contains barley malt, an integral part of the brewing process. Beer or not beer, that is the real question.
Poured into a classic Leffe glass it pours quite fluidly, and dark pinkish/red in color with a creamy, pink head. It has a wine cooler like carbonation. It looks and smells exactly like I suspected, sweeeet. The color is very artificial looking but there is no indication of there being any color added. Not a lot more to be said about this one-advertised as a fruit beer, it is a fruit beer. A slight cough syrup taste in the back of my palate at the end of sips, definite tones of the various fruits stated above. Stay tuned this week for a number of beers in this style. Hope they are better….
Liefmans does produce other styles of beer, but all are based on a long cellaring, with various steps of fermentation. As well as new beer being blended with old beers for a distinct kind of flavor.
The stronger blond sister of the dubbel.
Westmalle Tripel: 9.5%abv Suggested serving temperature 8-14C 46-57F.
Why not knock off these two at the same time. Yesterday was the dark, premier example of a double and today’s beer is a premier example of a triple.
“Was first brewed in 1934 and the recipe has not changed since 1956. It is made with pale candy sugar and has a very pale colour produced from a mash of light pilsener malts. Styrian Goldings hops are used along with some German varieties and the classic Saaz pilsener hop. After a long secondary fermentation Westmalle Tripel is bottled with a dose of sugar and yeast.”-Wikipedia
It is another example of a beer style that has many competitors attempting to copy it with little success. Aromas of banana, malt and apricot dominate the nose. White frothy head with thick lacing sits atop the beer throughout creating a creamy texture. The beer itself is a cloudy golden color, specked with loose sediment-as a result of the bottle re-fermentation. Flavors are of banana, malt, honey and apricot-sweet for the most part. Although there is a slight bitterness to it, as well as a definite alcohol presence causing a warming feeling from the palate to the stomach on each sip-I felt the alcohol became more of a player the longer I let this beer sit/warm. All in all it is a great beer and once again is deserving of its Trappist origins.
Another of the fabled Trappists that make Belgian beer brewing so famous.
Westmalle Dubbel: 7%abv Suggested serving temperature 8-14C 46-57F.
What attracts me to the Westmalle line of beers, especially the Dubbel, is that most connoisseurs say that all other “double” styled beers try to follow Westmalle’s example. No overwhelming aromas, slight yeast and malt tones, caramel? Poured it looks a deep brown with flecks of sediment (you will want to make sure and aggravate the sediment in most Belgian bottled beers by pouring most of the beer out, but with about 1 inch/2 cm left, swirl the beer bottle and then pour the remainder. This will release the yeast and give you a fuller flavor and body in the beer.) The head is a beige color and quite fizzy and airy, it dissipates to a light lacing. Flavors are malty, and a sweet/bitter caramel, maybe even a slight cocoa/coffee darkness in there. It is very smooth on the palate and easy to drink. Probably a beer for sipping and enjoying with a meaty or cheesy snack.
Being a Trappist beer it must live up to all the hype of the category, and it does so quite easily. The monks of Westmalle Abbey, called Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van het Heilig Hart, produce three beers-the Dubbel, Tripel and Extra-all quite well.
A seasonal brew from one of the greats.
Belgian Farmhouse Ale
Saison: 6.5%abv Suggested serving temperature
“Saisons are sturdy farmhouse ale that was traditionally brewed in the winter, to be consumed throughout the summer months.”-BeerAdvocate I guess I missed this one on previous trips to the grocery store. I am a fan of the St. Feuillien and a fan of beers that claim to be different from that of normal Belgian brews-it just makes sense. A foamy, sparkling head with light lacing sits atop this brew. Carbonation rises constantly through the beer giving it good texture. Visually it is a dark, opaque amber color, being unfiltered, it looks very full-bodied. With sweet earthy aromas of hops and malt, this beer is complex. Think of a semi-sweet, dry champagne. I also taste something like raisins-dried fruits. Complex is almost an understatement-as I continue to sip I find myself questioning the flavors that evolve. I find it quite satisfying on this quiet, cool, autumn afternoon. It reminds me of harvest season and the smell of the forest as the leaves drop and decompose. A truly down to earth beer.
St. Feuillien’s has done it again.
From the makers of La Chouffe comes Mc Chouffe, its dark sister.
Mc Chouffe: 8%abv Suggested serving temperature 4-10C 39-50F.
As stated by the brewers, this beer is “The scotch of The Ardennes.” It is dark and sweet-smelling. When poured from the bottle there is a cola-like head that you can hear fizzing for a few seconds before it dissipates to nothing. Aromas of dark fruit and malt dominate the nose. It is a dark, opaque amber color. Flavors are of roasted barley, sweet malt, caramel-like. Not as heavy a body as I would have thought looking at it, although, there is almost a refreshing wetness to it. Light alcohol tones that work well with the accompanying flavors and textures. Something of a unique dark ale, this beer. Simply stated, I like it.
The elves at Brasserie Achouffe–www.achouffe.be-make many a fine beer.
La Chouffe: 8%abv Suggested serving temperature 4-10C 39-50F.
A beer with much character and a cult following, due to its gnome-like mascot, La Chouffe, is the trademark beer from this not so ancient brewery-founded 1982. Located in The Ardennes, the wooded south-east region of Belgium, it is a beer characteristic of its inhabitants. Complex flavors of sweet fruit, spiciness of coriander and a rather thick, densely carbonated body make this beer quite unique in the family of Belgian blondes. A particular maltiness is apparent in the aroma. A small, dense, white head sticks on top of the beer throughout, leaving light lacing on the glass. Appearance is the color of an unfiltered apple juice, a slightly opaque dark golden color. It is a raw beer, one that can be found on tap as well, I have been told. This one is a beer exported happily by the Belgian brewers, representing themselves throughout the globe as a world-class brewery. I have to agree on this as well, it is a delectable beer, one to be savored-although they do sell it in a 75cl bottle. Despite the somewhat cartoonish label this beer exceeds all expectations. Tomorrow I review its dark sister Mc Chouffe-“Scotch of the Ardennes”-they say….