Live beer blogging at EBBC15

Lindermans Oude Kriek Cuvée Rene
3 fermentation processes brewed with old cherries, ABV 6.5%
Cloudy deep red colour, Sour cherries, clean, refreshing, left with a fruity tart finish

Hoorn Cornet Oaked
8.5% vanilla on the nose, very smooth, tannic taste, marzipan herby sweetish finish

Bush (Dubuisson) de Charmes
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

Delirium Tremens
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

Roman Ename
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

Finding content beyond the beer review

Panel made up of Ina Verstl, Prof. Dr. Fabrizio Bucella, Pete Rowe, moderated by Paul Walsh.

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.

History, Present and Future of brewing in Belgium

A panel-based session with An De Ryck (De Ryck), Didier Van der Haeghen (Silly) & Willem Van Herreweghen (Timmermans), moderated by Krishan Maudgal.

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!

The Belgium beer bloggers conference has started!

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...

Looking forward to baron rating Hardknott ales

Hardknott Brewery, well what to say. I met a very enthusiastic Dave at a #Twissup in Sheffield, 2010 and immediately liked the guy, he was approachable, friendly & highly energised about all things brewing. Since then I've been sent samples of his beers, helped him get his beers into Ormskirk first craft bottled beer place,  Source Deli, and generally enjoyed his beers where ever I can find them. Just this week I pointed the organisers of the upcoming Ormskirk Beer, Food and Wine Festival towards him and I think an order has been placed.

Anyway, a lovely pack of good-looking samples showed up at the end of last week:

A solid looking line-up
Hardknott Brewery
  • 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
Look out for a 'baron rating' for these Hardknott Brewery beers soon, and a big thank you to Dave (@hardknottdave) for sending them through to me!

Salopian Lemon Dream

Not bottle conditioned
Salopian Lemon Dream [baron rating 4/5] - 4.5% pale gold ale,sweet lemon smell,crisp lemon bittersweet taste,chalky bitter finish
Listen to what Chris and the Baron have to say about it

Subscribe in iTunes
Thank you to Jake (@SalopianBrewery) from Salopian Brewery for sending this through for a baron rating!

Buy Salopian ales from Holborn Ales

Looking forward to baron rating Freedom lagers

The next Ales By Mail #beerybits Twitter tasting night is nearly upon us! From 8pm until 9pm on Wednesday 16th September they are showcasing two lagers from the Freedom Brewery:

Strong branding and a cracking looking glass!
Freedom Brewery
  • 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]
Why not join The Half Pint Gentleman and the rest of us on the night on Twitter, all you need to do is place an order with Ales By Mail, add the special pack to your basket and get both beers and the above glass for a discount price of £4.50 (instead of the usual £7.20). Sounds like a good deal to me!

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!

Buy Freedom beers from Ales By Mail

New Belgium Snapshot

New Belgium Snapshot [baron rating 2/5] - 5% pale gold ale,creamy vanilla lemon smell,wheaty lemon zest taste,cloying lemony finish

Samuel Adams Summer Ale

Not bottle conditioned
Samuel Adams Summer Ale [baron rating 2/5] - 5.3% gold ale,floral lemon smell,creamy wheaty sweetish lemony taste,cloying dry finish

New Belgium Fat Tire

Not bottle conditioned
New Belgium Fat Tire [baron rating 2/5] - 5.2% amber ale,peachy biscuity smell,cereal sultana bittersweet taste,fading brown sugar finish

New Belgium Slow Ride

Not bottle conditioned
New Belgium Slow Ride [baron rating 3/5] - 4.5% gold ale,mango pineapple smell,unsweetened tropical bittersweet taste,soft herbal finish

New Belgium Blue Paddle

Not bottle conditioned
New Belgium Blue Paddle [baron rating 4/5] - 4.8% gold beer,sweet cereal smell,crisp cereal mild herbal taste,long mild herbal finish

New Belgium Rampant

Not bottle conditioned
New Belgium Rampant [baron rating 5/5] - 8.5% copper ale,piney green hop smell,syrupy resinous bitter taste,peppery finish

Stone Saison

Not bottle conditioned
Stone Saison [baron rating 5/5] - 6% gold ale,floral lemon ground spices smell,zesty herbal bittersweet taste,spicy peppery finish

Samuel Adams Rebel Rider IPA

Not bottle conditioned
Samuel Adams Rebel Rider IPA [baron rating 3/5] - 4.5% pale gold ale,faint citrus smell,zesty pithy citrus taste,cloying citrus minty finish

Samuel Adams Downtime Pilsner

Not bottle conditioned
Samuel Adams Downtime Pilsner [baron rating 4/5] - 5.2% gold beer,creamy mild banana smell,bittersweet mild herbal taste,clean herbal finish

Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA

Not bottle conditioned
Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA [baron rating 5/5] - 6.2% gold ale,piney resinous smell,piney floral citrus bitter taste,floral bitter finish

Magic Hat #9

Not bottle conditioned
Magic Hat #9 [baron rating 1/5] - 5.1% gold ale,earthy biscuity caramel smell,odd fruity bittersweet taste,earthy unpleasant fruity finish

Stone Go To IPA

Not bottle conditioned
Stone Go To IPA [baron rating 5/5] - 4.5% pale gold ale,sweet lemon grapefruit smell,lemony grapefruit bitter taste,zesty mild bitter finish