3 fermentation processes brewed with old cherries, ABV 6.5%
Cloudy deep red colour, Sour cherries, clean, refreshing, left with a fruity tart finish
8.5% vanilla on the nose, very smooth, tannic taste, marzipan herby sweetish finish
10.5% sweet almond white grape smell, very balanced fruity white wine taste, dry vanilla mild fruity finish
Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2013
Oaked aged version of the triple beer, aged on oak barrels from red wine and cognac.
11% quadruple ale barrel aged, boozy smell like Xmas cake, very smooth balanced fruity, choc, rounded taste, smooth long fruity finish
St Bernardus Extra 4
4.8% pale gold ale, light, wheaty, slight lemon smell, crisp, refreshing, spicy taste, very dry lemon pith bitter finish
8.5% gold ale, crisp mild herbal smell, frothy moose-like spicy vanilla complex fruity tastes, dry very clean finish
Het Anker Gouden Carolus
8.5% burnt meaty smell, dark amber colour, very sweet dark brown sugar taste, dry sweet finish
St Feuillien Grand Cru
9.5% gold ale, crisp fresh meadow smell, creamy soft vanilla taste,vanilla cream finish
5.5%hazy pale gold ale, crisp peachy fruity taste, mild fresh apricot finish
Duvel Tripel Hop - Equinox
9.5% clean pale gold ale, citrus, cheesy smell, herby citrus peppery taste
Beer writers have progressed greatly since "it's to style". One thing that Ina doesn't like who say they don't like a particular beer, they should describe it but not give their opinion. Keith says that criticism is fine. A numbered review is just a hint towards the beer review says Fabrizio.
Beer reviews or beer stories? Is there a half-way house? Keith says that he pulls in all sorts of beer-related content: reviews, stories, recipes for home brew, etc. The beer community seems to have more social media awareness than other alcohol-related communities. "Top 10 best X" posts get great click through rates on websites but are they any good? (Mixed reaction from the audience).
Craft beer blogs - can you define a niche from this or are you deriding the whole brewing industry? Ina says that they are all linked, families brewers can't exist without huge corporate brewers and visa versa. Larger breweries have huge marketing budgets to help promote new beers or creations whereas smaller breweries don't have that 'voice'. Bush brewery beer is available everywhere in Belgium and their normal beer would not be considered craft whereas they also do a limited edition special beer which could be considered craft - so are they craft or not? says Fabrizio.
When a brewing behemoth is pretending to be a small craft brewery maybe they should be called out on that? says Pete.
Breweries were traditionally farms in the summer time and breweries in the winter time. Every single little village had at least one brewery. De Ryck's grandfather went to Germany to learn how to brew beer and then came back and started brewing.
Brewers were important people in the city, hold important posts helping to organise events, invest in the city, invested into the cafes and the pubs. The brewery is heavily linked to the social life in the village.
The passion from the brewers is not only to brew but also to pass down the passion from generation to generation. This passion has helped the Belgium family brewers to survive the downturn of interest in Belgium beer back in the 90s.
18 million hectolitres brewed every year, 62% of Belgium beer is exported around the world - 10 times its demographic weight.
What does the market look like today? The consumer is demanding different shapes of bottles, labels, etc. - packaging is very important. Developing new products (some with universities) is very important, really getting to know what is happening inside the bottles, as well as outside. Lower ABV beers with big flavours is an important new market too.
Bottle conditioning is very expensive, much more so than the regular brewing process. It needs to be managed very carefully to ensure a quality product. Quality approval is very important, base recipes are not being changed just the way in which they are being produces- don't touch the basics!
The breweries have been releasing 4-5 new beers a year, and beer and food matching is very important. To develop a new beer takes around 2 years, ensuring that it pairs well with food. Listening to feedback from customers is very important to ensure that it matches expectations. It is not up to the brewer to say if the beer is good, it's up to the market to decide. It's not hard to brew a beer, but it is hard to brew one that the market wants.
Generations of brewing is quite impressive, in some cases they are on the 7th generation of family brewer!
After a very early start (3:45am) we are here in Brussels and have just been wowed with sample from a host of superb Belgium beers, along with a very nice buffet lunch. Now it's 1:00pm and it is time for the conference sessions to start.
This is going to be very educational for me as I've not tried that many Belgium beers so I'm really looking forward to trying all the different styles. Let the sessions begin...
Anyway, a lovely pack of good-looking samples showed up at the end of last week:
|A solid looking line-up|
- Azimuth IPA - 5.8% zesty orange pith nose, with flavours of peach and apricot skins with a hint of caramel honeysuckle and spring gorse flowers
- Elixir Of Invincibility - 7.3% beer using buckets of hops from New Zealand
- Infra Red - 6.2%deep ruby red, earthy orange and caramel nose, sweet toffee start, peppery dark roast parsnips and a long bitter finish
- Nuclear Sunset - 4.2% crisp refreshing wit, with orange, coriander, nutmeg
|Strong branding and a cracking looking glass!|
- Organic Dark Lager - 4.7% (see) chestnut red lager, (smell) toffee, sweet, carmel, (taste) smooth, chocolate, coffee [details provided by Cyclops on side of bottle]
- Organic Lager - 4.8% (see) light golden, (smell) sweet, malty, subtle, hop, (taste) sweetcorn, sweet, light citrus [details provided by Cyclops on side of bottle]
Look out for 'baron ratings' of these beers soon, and a big thank you to Casey Onufrey from Ales By Mail for sending these through to me!
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