Archive for category Belgium

In Bruges

You might be wondering why I haven’t posted in a while, and although there are many reasons, (family commitments, moving house, changing jobs) the most fun one is that I have been on holiday to Britain and Belgium, including a city-break to the stunning city of Bruges (or Brugge as the locals call it).  Here I visited the local brewery ‘De Halve Maan’ and sampled some of its delicious beer. My wife, daughter and our friends spent most of the time eating wonderful food, consuming vast quantities of  ‘real’ cheese, cured meats and of course trying to drink my body weight in Belgian Beer. Bruges might be a touristy city, but you can’t help falling in love with its medieval charm, the canals and the surprisingly slow pace of the people who make it their home. The beer selections available at the child friendly restaurants and bars will satisfy the most needy beer connoisseur, and can be enjoyed in intimate spaces, with the TV screens and loud music enjoyably absent! For me, the European model of drinking is what I’m most attracted to, eating well prepared local food,  sipping fine beers and wine while in the company of good friends, our conversation drifting into the night……pure bliss!

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Archiduc Belgian Beer (Brasserie d’Ecaussinnes)

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Archiduc is an unassuming beer that doesn’t give too many clues as to what it is on the bottle (the Belgians obviously don’t have the same predilection for categorising as we do in North America). It is in fact a strongish Belgian Amber Ale with bags of flavour. It comes in a 750ml bottle that is corked and the beer has a deposit of yeast from the re-fermentation. It pours a rich amber hue with a medium tight head that slowly disappears. The aromas are spicy, rich and fruity, and the taste doesn’t disappoint after such an inviting whiff. This beer is rounded, balanced and delicious. There are notes of marmalade, allspice, citrus peel with a sweet herbaceous finish. This fantastic Belgian ale is rich in flavour but totally drinkable in every way. This is a real gem that sits silently in the beer store, but definitely is worth shouting about!

ABV: 6.2%

Best Served: 9°C

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Maredsous Abbaye Triple

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tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Recommended)

Maredsous Triple is golden amber in  colour, a touch darker than many triples, and has a strong, spicy, alcoholic aroma, which is not surprising when you see the 10% ABV on the traditionally styled label.  The palate gives off a strong hit of the solvent-like alcohol at first, and is followed up by grainy dried fruit, with over ripe pineapple and boozy marmalade oranges leading the way. The finish is dry, with a hint of orange peel and herbiness. This powerful triple is not as refreshing as some and struggles to balance its flavour with its alcoholic strength; having said that, it is still a worthwhile beer to try, and if you are comfortable with the warming mouthfeel, then savour the notes of fried fruit and spice with pleasure.

ABV: 10%

Best Served: 7°C

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Maredsous Abbey Brune

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tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Excellent)

Maredsous is a true Abbey beer, which means that it was originally brewed in the Benetictine Abbey at Maredsous in Wallonia, Southern Belgium, but now has been transferred to a  brewery outside of the monastic grounds, but is still overseen by the monks themselves. Many beers that claim to be “abbey” beers do not have that distinction, and the name just describes a style.

The bottle I had this beer in was a corked 75 cl variety, still resting on the yeast, which would help explain the bready nature of this enjoyable ale, and served in a genuine Maredsous chalice. There are notes of dark, malty rye bread, with a touch of dried fruit and caramel.  This beer seems to go down all too easily while still maintaining its richness, which is a testament to the easy integration of all the flavours, and the crisp, slightly earthy, but lengthy finish.

ABV: 8%

Best Served: 10°C

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Delirium Tremens

delirium_tremens

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg (Outstanding)

Delirium Tremens is a strong golden ale that has a cult following amongst fans of Belgian beer, not only due to this powerful brew, but also the famous Delirium café in Brussels that keeps over 2000 beers for enthusiasts and tourists alike.  It pours with a gloriously fluffy, tightly bubbled head, that sits atop a very pale golden liquid. The nose is full of the slightly medicinal aroma of pear drops and spicy hops. This beer manages to be light and full-bodied at the same time; if that sounds like an oxymoron, I apologise, but it manages to pull off an intense flavour, while being surprisingly drinkable and refreshing. That’s not bad for a beer weighing in at almost 9% ABV. The flavours that fill your mouth mingle clove with banana and and lightly honeyed malt with subtly spicy hop notes. This complex and enjoyable beer hides its alcohol well, which means its easy to sit down and have a few, but not so easy to stand up…..

ABV: 8.7%

Best Served: 8°C

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Nostradamus Bruin (Brasserie Caracole)

nostradamus

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Nostradamus Bruin from Brasserie Caracole is a medium to full bodied brown Dubbel style Belgian ale. It pours a deep ruby brown colour with a tan head that dissipates without much lacing. An aroma of black molasses hits the olfactory senses, and is followed by liqueur soaked candied citrus peel and morello cherry. The flavour is complex and deep, and fills the palate with a load of dried fruit, like dates, figs and cherries with more molasses and and muscovado sugar notes. The finish has a surprising freshness to it which stops the richness become overwhelming, having said that, this is definitely a sipping beer, and one may well be enough. It is rich and flavoursome, so I would prefer to have this on its own after a meal as it may well smother many dishes.

ABV: 9%

Best Served: 9°C

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Chimay Première Rouge (Red)

chimayrouge

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Chimay Première is the red labeled beer of this classic trio of genuine trappist ales from Belgium. Although it makes no reference on the label, this is the Dubbel or bruin style of other abbey breweries. The colour of label is justified by the ruddy brown hue of the liquid, and the beer has many sweet, roasted malty notes often associated with that tint. There are definite soft floral hop characters on the palate, with light caramel and fig flavours following on. This is not a heavy version of a Dubbel, so finishes with crisp spiciness. The 7% alcohol is not particularly obvious, which makes this an ideal beer to have with a big meal. Roast Pork with roasted root vegetables, and a gravy made with Chimay would be my choice, but this is a versatile beer, so be daring and try it out with a variety of Autumn fare.

ABV: 7%

Best Served: 9°C

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Mort Subite Kriek Lambic

mskriek356

Wrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

Mort Subite Kriek Lambic is a supremely well balanced ale, as the sweetness of the cherry flavour compliments the sharp acidity of this wildly fermented beer. Lambic yeast strains make very sour, yet quite complex beers, but this tartness is not for everyone. Traditionally sugary syrups were added in the bar, but soon brewers like Mort Subite added quality fruit syrup and real cherries to the beer before bottling to create a refreshingly fruity brew. The red cherry notes are not too sweet, but are in perfect harmony with the pleasant piquancy of the Lambic. This is a supremely drinkable beer and would work as well as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to a rich dark chocolate pudding, perhaps with a cherry on top!

ABV: 4.5%

Best Served: 8°C

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Piraat Strong Blond Ale (Van Steenburge Brewery)

Piraat_LargeWrangler Rating:

tankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpgtankard.jpg(Excellent)

This is a lovely example of a strong Belgian golden ale. This beer emits a medium-golden hue and is topped with a tight, slightly creamy head. The alcohol is well hidden within the flavours of the beer and it exudes slightly dried tropical fruits, with a touch of caramelised sugar. Having said that, Piraat is not a sweet brew as there is a dry malty and spicy yeast finish. This beer goes on to warm your insides with its strength and flavour, making it a great sipping beer on its own, or as an accompaniment to a beef stew or chicken casserole.

ABV: 9%

Best Served: 9°C

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