Friday, September 24, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Helles Lagerbier Hell – just a nice light one to share with a couple of the boys before heading to dinner at Tina and Joe’s. light blonde malt flavour with a rolling rise of hops before it cleanses at the end. Pretty standard I would have thought, but a standard it seems hard for many pils to achieve.
JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett 2008 – good to share this with the gang at Tina and Joe’s at the start of the night while the palate is still fresh. It is there most basic wine, so noticed it had a bit of an acidic flavour towards to back palate, but still has the residual sugar and soft, delicate taste that Mick and I like so much from this winery
Radeberger Pilsner – to get the beer journey going, we had this lighter beer that I don't think the gang in Berlin hadn’t had before. And I can understand why, seems very light and tasteless. Mind you, I was eating delicious food at the time of the trying it, but for a pilsner not to be able to cleanse says enough.
Berliner Kindl Bock Hell – bit darker than the pils with a nice caramel malt flavour on the front that rolls into the 7% alcohol. Good balance of the two flavours and no alcohol aftertaste, that could come from a lighter beer with this high an alcohol content.
Schofferhofer Dunkles Hefeweizen – nice step up in sweetness from the previous bock but with some darker flavours from the malt. A lot darker than what I thought would come from a wheat beer but maybe just used more barely malt than other hef’s.
Paulaner Hefe-Weizbier Dunkle – much lighter than the previous dark wheat, so not so much of the sweetness, but is replaced with the bubblegum yeastiness that I can get a bit of in European beers. Interesting to see so much difference in two beers of the same style.
Konig Ludwig Dunkel – returned to this beer to see if I got something else from it. And speaking to James over it, we both agreed there was a spice (pepper) flavour coming over the top of the malt to create an unusal spectrum of flavour across the tongue. Maybe a beer I don’t personally like for it, but can’t deny it is very different and worthy of trying for this.Taking out the Prum, I have to say the sweet flavour and nice balance of flavours from the Berliner and Schofferhofer were my picks from the night. Thanks to Tina and Joe for allowing me to crash their dinner, the gang for coming on the journey and adding your input (which has helped me make my own notes), and for Tina getting the smallest glass in the world for me to drink a beer from.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
By now it was mid arvo so time to hit the beer fest. I did not meet up with Colin or Kris at it and after not speaking to anyone for most of the day (maybe people were worried seeing me in t-shirt, boardies and thongs), and so on my last token was just thinking that it might be good to be a loner for the day when I noticed this guy next to me writing on the back of coasters and tapping with his fingers as he wrote.
Realized he was writing in some sort of prose/poetry and commenting on the beers he was trying in this way. He accidently left one of these behind when he went for his next beer, but when he came back and wrote another, I picked up the one he left behind and gave it to him. That was it. After that we got on like a house on fire. His son was a chemical engineer for Liefmans brewery and had helped come up with their Cuvee Brut, then Moortgat had taken over the brewery and he had lost his job. He was now traveling the world and wanting to come to Australia, and so Willy (his dad) was at the beer fest by himself. What fortune to come across Willy and chat for an hour about beer and life. In his and his son’s honour my last beer token was used on the Liefmans Cuvee Brut, and not a stout as I had intended.
After such a meeting was encouraged to have one more beer, and so went back to Brugs Beertje for a Hercule Stout as I had done the previous night with Colin. And who should be there but Kris, so got to catch up and meet all the people she had got to know while there. All the locals let me sit at the bar with them and try their beers, talk beer (one of them works as a tour guide to the Brugse Zot brewery in town), travel, sport etc and Daisy behind the bar was not surprised to see me ask for the Hercule. This was then my last beer in Belgium, and as you can see, Daisy got her hand in the shot of me having it. Having to get up early to get to Berlin today I left at 10:30pm feeling very content with what I had experienced this final day in Belgium and all I had done over the past 2 weeks. I am now in Brussels Midi station waiting for my train to Berlin, and a new country (and it’s beer) are to be experienced.
Alright, now to the actual beers I had yesterday
The Ambertanterik had a caramel smell but also some sourness. Also very gassy so is hard to get flavour from it and slightly sour and dry in aftertaste. Tastes off to be honest and hope the first is the worst I have on the day, even if a bit of caramel starts coming through as it warms.
Sint Bernardus Grottenbier is pretty spicy on the nose but has a good body to it. Like hops though, I personally don’t agree with much spice, but to be honest this would probably be pretty mild for a spiced beer, so seems to have a decent balance between spice and caramel, with a nice clean finish.
Aged Orval (2008) has citrus/spice/hop smell but fairly subtle. This translates to taste early on but there is a sting on the tip of the tongue before it fades away to a dry but clean finish.
After having the Brugse Zot Blonde at lunch, decided I should also try the Dubbel Bruin, but like it was explained to me by Willy and the other locals afterwards, is pretty commercial with dull but nice dark flavouring and some decent texture. There is some alcohol towards the end but as it warms to caramel comes through a bit more.
The Stout Leroy smells pretty creamy and has some texture to it but it pretty mild in flavour. It sweet, but not in a roasted malt way, almost like sugar is added just for sweetening (after checking my Belgium beer guide I realize why as it styled as an ultra sweet light stout. So is sweet, but not much else going on. Maybe a chick’s stout for the uninitiated. (note: at this stage I needed a lie down so went back to the hostel for and hour so could power on for the evening)
One of the best beers for the day was the Noir De Dottingnies which had a nice creamy head and was also similar with the texture. Finally another real stout found in Belgium. Not quite a Hercule but still pretty good. 9% alcohol is a good level for the flavours in the beer, which are rich and dark. Good beer to have fresh taste buds for.
My second last beer was the Viven Porter, which again was nicely creamy with a brownish head but not much smell. Still, in the mouth a smokeyness exudes which is not near a rauchbeir but getting towards it. There is coffee on the mid and smoke at the end that lingers for a bit. Still, texturally good.
Ending on the Liefman’s Cuvee Brut was situationally perfect, seeing I had the chemical engineer’s dad with me. Still, logically would have been better to have it first. Still, I have to say, there is a very delicate balance between the sweet and sour of the beer, but with more flavour than a Faro. If I was educating someone on lambics, would go faro, then this beer.So, that has eaten up the time till my train comes, so better find my platform and get going for Germany. At this stage I still have no idea how to get to Jaimi’s from the train station, but am sure something with happen to sort it out....and it did and now Jaimi and I are drinking beers while I update the dak.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
As today is my final full day in Belgium, I thought I should celebrate all the good people I have met who have appreciated my aussieness (yes, we really have a good reputation in the world, I just hope I have kept up the standard) by having an aussie day. It is still dark and raining at the moment, but once the sun rises it should fine up. Yesterday was pretty warm, so thinking the boardies, trucker singlet, aussie thongs, with the sunnies and terry toweling hat should come out at the beer fest. I actually wouldn’t mind a quick trip to the beach this morning once I dump my gear at the hostel I will be staying tonight, as it will stop me going to the beer festival too early, and seeing it is only 12kms away, I think I can make the effort. I have already had most of the beers I really wanted to try at this beer fest, so going to enjoy the area and walk around Brugge a bit more, seeing the owner of this B&B made the effort to draw on a map all the things you can see here…and maybe have another Flemish stew (ok, not very aussie, but then showing off our multiculturalism. That and with many of the beers here, it is just good).
Ah, the bad weather has held on so looks like will just have to stay in Brugge and just look at the sights. Still, this place packs with tourists on the weekend, so preferred Monday. A novelty for breakfast; usual meat, bread, cheese, then…chocolates, and the B&B owners had a chat to me about their favourite beers (Triple Karmeliet [hers] and Duvel [his]). I did not complain about any of it.
I may not be able to report anything more til i get to Germany and back with Jaimi, so will let you know then if I survive today being an 'aussie' and don't get bashed up.
Cheers to Belgium and it's many, many, many beers.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Started off early from Maastricht and got to Leige before 10am. Was going to find a bar with 900 beers, but after seeing the pure novelty factor of it and I could not find anywhere to put my luggage, went straight onto Jemelle. Some of the things I noted on my 2 hours on trains today was finally seeing hills and valleys in the landscape, and seeing little villages tucked into them, with green hills of sheep reminding me a bit of Ireland. Seeing people in these villages getting on with simple tasks like chopping firewood. People camping beside the river, and on a farm seeing calves having their own little tents each. Old growth pines on the slopes of the hills behind Sy.
Was a very relaxing journey, but was ruined when I made it to Jemelle and had trouble finding things/information. Ended up leaving my main pack at the station and walking from there to the town of Rochefort where the make my favourite trappist beer. Language barrier even harder to bridge today with the person in the information centre being pretty short with me (probably as she doesn’t know much English. Still, I don’t know any French, so am happy to have received anything from our encounter) and then finding a place to stay for tonight and having a mainly body language conversation with the man at the desk to get it done. Then continued walking to see if I could find the abbey they make the beer in. You can’t drink the beer there but I guess was part of the pilgrimage, so even though I am not sure I even found it, it was interesting to search for even if I am a little disappointed.
So it is now 5pm, and resting a little in my room before I get a rochefort in me and have an early night. A few hours training around and then another few hours walking from the station and looking for the abbey have taken it out of me. Still, will make up for it this weekend, when I go back to Brugge for my second beer festival in two weekends. They have aged rochefort and Westvleteren 12, which I found from the beer book the owner of the Rembrandt in Tongeren let me look at is an abt beer that looks really interesting to me. So I am letting go of seeing more of Belgium to try more different beers. But at least get to be in one place for more than 24 hours and not have to waste time on trains.Anyway, now I feel a bit better after resting from the walk, will try and get a beer or two before it gets to 6pm…So I did get the beer by 6 (so not the latest I had had my first beer of the day in Belgium), at La Rochefortoise, which I sense some british in it like yesterday, and not just from the bristish songs they were playing. Is a bit strange hearing british music in a heavy French speaking area. Still they had Guinness, and I nearly though of doing what I did last night, but thought better of it after having the Rochefort 10. It was served with cheese, which was good as have done a bit of a monk thing today with me not eating since breakfast, so doing the beer nourishment thing for the day. 4 Euro for a Rochefort 10 experience, a bargain at half the price, but in this case, even double. Was yawning before I even finished it.
Friday, September 10, 2010
So now I have drunk all the trappist beers in the world from within the country they are made. An unexpected success from the trip. There was a smell of cocoa and alcohol, and is mild in flavour with carbonation and alcohol over slight sweet malt and hops, but fairly cleansing finish. Some decent texture on the fore, but waters on the back of the tongue. The savory of the cheese and ham toasted sanga heightened the sweet of the beer. As well as Erdinger and Corona (insert gagging noise here, but only for the Corona), they also had a 'special beer' (125th Anniversary) of La Trappe (Isidor), so gave it a shot. Amber to ruby in colour and has a red beer smell and taste and alcohol is a bit strong. There is also a hint of honey.
Ok, so I ended up having a pint of Guinness, just so I can say I have had one in every country (will have to remember to have one when back in belgium). decent texture (creamy head but watery body) but definite bitterness that lingers in aftertaste. Not as dusty as what we get in OZ.
So after 6 hours in Netherlands my mind now wanders back to Belgium to see if I can get to my fave brewery in the country (Rochefort). Let's hope I am able to find a way there.
Tidings of Beer Guts and Chocolate Arses to you all,
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The last night in Brussels we hit delerium beer café. 3 big levels with people from the beer festival. 27 beers on tap. Tried german dunkel (chocolate, perfect finish to the beer and choc day), rader ambree (bit of caramel), Triple Karmeliet (much creamier out of the tap and a bit more caramel), and delerium tremens (house beer that tasted pretty good as well). JF had a blonde before I persuaded him into the Saison IV, which he then stuck on for the rest of the night. Good vibe in the place which kept us there longer than I expected. So a few hours after the beer festival finish, already getting into my first beer café. We head to bruges today. On the way to the train station we met up with the polish couple we had met the day before at the beer festival. After some confusion we managed to pack ourselves onto the train the bruges and an hour later were walking through the lovely streets of it.Got to the hostel (Charlie Rockets) and Jaimi recommended we hit a Flemish restaurant (Pas Partout), which had an amazing stroverij (beef stewed in beer) which I had with a Leffe Brune. The meat just melted in my mouth and reminded me of how it is with beef and Guinness pie. We had a quick kip before trying to get into some beers. All the places I had wanted to go were closed between lunch and dinner, so just hit a bar on the canal for a standard brune and JF went for another Saison (Urthel). By 4pm the one bar I had really wanted to try was open so we hit T’Brugs Beertje and I was finally able to find some amazing dark beers that the bar owner was very pleased to see me drinking. Of particular note was the Ellezelloise Hercule Stout and the Achel Extra Brune. The De Dolle Special Extra Export Stout, Senne Stouterik and Smisje Catherine Imperial Stout did not fare as well, but then the Hercule (creamy and dark malty) and the Achel (similar to a Rochfort 8/10) were very good. We got chatting to a couple of people at this bar including an American tourist who really appreciated her beers and was really trying to get women into beer. We hung out with Kris for the night heading to Poatersgat. At this point the night got pretty big so not much to say about the beers we had from here. Ok, so I had a big night in Belgium. JF piked and so was just left to Kris and myself to chat to the barman and English bloke sitting beside us. So it’s a bit of a blur but unlike JF, I have pulled up not too bad from the night, and so just writing this entry as I wait for him to sort himself out. Off to Ghent where we have been taking it easy on the beers (I only had three all day), did a tour of the local castle and just enjoyed the surrounds. The first beer was a Gruut Amber which is from the only brewer in Ghent. It was nice early on with caramel taste and texture but then hops hit and the beer watered at the end. I had a Leffe Brune which I think is like the toohey’s old of Belgium. We also hit a nice beer café called Waterhuis aan de Bierkant where I decided to try something a little different with a Bier de Miel Honey Beer.
It was actually a pretty easy drinking beer with I not overly sweet or syrupy. There was a well rounded flavour with enough of a cleansing, slight watery finish to get you going back for more quick enough. So managed to get through the day and not hurt myself any further from the previous night. Tomorrow is Jaimi’s last day with me in Belgium, so he better step up in Antwerp. I think from there I will start my journey to the south to take in some nice country while I drink beer. Really tough going…
Monday, September 6, 2010
Ok, to the day, again we got in early to the centre of town so had time to relax over a coffee/hot chocolate and gear up for the beers to be drunk. We got in at 11 as yesterday and instead of going with the masses to the Trappist Tent we hit Lindeman’s for some fruit beers to ease ourselves into the morning. The Fraboise is a very sweet gay looking beer (Jaimi pronounced everyone serving these beers was gay) but woth some slight sourness. Has a sort of cordial flavour to the sweetness. Comment from JF, ‘had just had a red bull and reckons this is a great brekkie beer. The Kriek is also gay looking with a sour fruit smell. The sweetnesss counteracts the sourness but sour dominates on sides of the mouth as it goes down your throat. Is nowhere near the Lou Pepe in terms of sourness.
The next tent was Boon where the Geuze Mariage Parfait has a pretty complex fruit flavour with some sweet before the sourness before the sourness kicks in but dissipates in aftertaste. JF comment – smokey, sour afterspike. ‘That stuff’ll give ya cancer’ The Boon faro went down a lot better with Faulkner call this the ‘sherbert tickler’. Very delicate flavours. Has sweet honey smell but again, let it warm on the tongue and the sherbert is unleashed better than the Linderman’s. More honey flavour comes from it as it warms.
It was this stage as we got our next beers we met up with a Polish couple and their dog who let us on their table and we had a great chat with them about beers (yep, another women that appreciates her beers). So we got to talk with them about beer as we drank our next beers. The Delirum Nocturnum had a nice caramel flavour with some hop finish, but blends wells with the beer, while the Gluten Free Pilsner had a dry smell for me and of course a light flavour to go with it. JF felt it was a good palate neutralizer (he is always nicer then me when saying a beer is tasteless) and so a good time out half time time beer – equivalent to a glass of water!!! Definitely not a man’s beer!! JF also got onto a Chapeau Banane and for myself it tastes just like lolly banana’s, which as know in the summer with a Boag’s St George, I don’t mind the taste of lolly bananas in beer, so it sat ok with me. JF has it down as ‘Pedal to the metal banana’, strong banana flavour. Takes him back to the days of opening footy cards – bubblegum flavour. Outrageously sweet, and a bit sherberty and powdery.Jaimi’s thoughts on the St Feuillien Saison were simply that it was a F*cking Great Beer. However, I decided to flesh this out by saying that it has a great caramel undertone on this fruity but mellowed, which comes from the aging. Good session beer with enough flavour to keep it interesting. Along with this we had the same brewer’s Triple, which has alcohol and a citrus smell. There is a citrus sweetness with light malt. Alcohol hits but is not overstated with a slight hop aftertaste. Standard, straightforward triple. JF may have thought that there was liquorice overtones, but his note-taking is atrocious.
After the previous saison, JF wanted to try another, so we got on the Saison Silly, but we found it not as mellow as the previous one, as it had a lot more caramel and also seemed to have a hop aftertaste. Still, at least there was a nice girl in the area we were drinking it, and had to make Jaimi stand in front of her so I could get this shot of her (that’s f*cking teamwork!)
Moving on, we grabbed a Duchesse De Bourgogne which starts off with a decent sweetness with the malt but something artificial about it before a sourness sets in at the end. Not very good. JF disliked it so much he doesn’t want to comment about it apart from ‘it sucks the life out of ya’. We also had a Caralous Classic which was quite different as it seems to have sweetness with alcohol but doesn’t go anywhere. Just plain and straight.As we got towards the end of our tokens, I decided to hit an old fave in St Bernardus with the Watou Triple and 12. The Triple had a nice spiced flavour with caramel, and JF found it citrusy with sweet toffee, but mellows out with not harsh on alcohol (spikes very slightly at the end). The 12 was left for JF, who had one of the best comments on beer for the day stating ‘sour bouquet, immediate sweetness that is then overridden by the toasted caramel overtones’.
With 3 tokens left I rediscovered a girl in one of the tents I had been checking out before, so decided to our last beer from her tent. It was a Maredsous Donker, which was a pretty straight-forward dubbel with typical dark malt. Not how I would like to end a beer drinking session as big as this, but then I didn’t have enough tokens to get a beer a liked, so went with the good looker instead.
So overall, has been a great 3 days drinking all the Belgium beers we have been able to try, and having it with a great mate by my side. In the end we have been able to try something like 35 beers, which is awesome, and I couldn’t have done it without Jaimi. Once we ran out of token it meant I could start getting onto the chocolate side of the day and visit two chocolate shops on the way back to the hostel (one had a hottie in it too) and finally get into experiencing this side of the adventure. Big thanks to those involved in organizing the beer festival and all the brewers for getting their products all together to allow people like ourselves to come and try some many different beers in a (almost too) convenient manner.
So that is it for Brussels at the moment. Tomorrow we head north to Bruges. Anyway, Faulkner is giving me the wind up for writing so much, so I better finish up so we can have dinner and a few more beers.
Cheers to the Belgian Beer Festival,
Sunday, September 5, 2010
So Jaimi and I made our way back to the beer festival and managed to get some frites into us just before the gates opened and 80% of the people there went straight from the Trappiststein tent for the Westvlerten.
We were the second to be served so we were assured of getting it and the Rochefort 8 that we also missed out on yesterday. Both came from the bottle, so the Rochefort tasted the same as when I had had it previously, but it was the Westvlerten that I focused on. To be honest it is a pretty straightforward strong blonde beer, that while it doesn’t pull any punches with the alcohol, the only other flavour is from the blonde malt. This brings it across as a strong and stable beer with little aftertaste…Faulkner has nothing to add as he can’t pick the beer. Closest thing to a comment is that it reminds him of the Achel, which I did get with it’s slight citrus smell. As for his comment on the Rochefort, he feels it was too much in alcohol and flavour and is close to whiskey (can’t wait for him to try and 10 later on). Seeing it was 11am when we got in and these trappist beers are pretty strong, we decided to have one more beer before having lunch. I decided to make it a big one so we had the opportunity to cleanse the palate of it over lunch, so I went with the Scotch Silly. I was surprised and happy to see that we both felt it tasted similar to the scotch ale Stass and I made with the sweetness of brown sugar seeming to be in it. One issue that is continuing is the coldness of all the beers on offer. With beers like these, they need to be warmer, or the flavour ischanged and the alcohol spikes on the tongue.
Jaimi got into mussels while I hit a steak for lunch before heading back to the tents.
After the big morning I thought it best we get on some lighter beers, and with Faro’s in fashion for me at the moment, these were the perfect choice. The Lindeman’s I had tried before from the bottle was available on tap here, and again came out too cold for the delicate flavours of it. It was definitely sweeter on tap and only residual sourness was found after swallowing. Therefore it was not as delicate as I remember, but still gave the spritz and lovely sherberty sweetness when left to warm on the tongue. The other faro was from Chapeau and was darker in colour and fruiter in flavour. The sweetness of the beer overcomes any sourness that may be in the beer from its lambic fermentation. Therefore it wasn’t as delicate as the Lindeman’s but like this one the Chapeau Faro does sweeten up if left on the tongue to warm. A most pleasing find with these beers.
Keeping with the light fruit type of beers, Jaimi was feeling the need for chocolate, and luckily enough there was one available, so we hit that tent for a Floris Chocolat and a Floris Honey. Jaimi didn’t seem to mind the chocolate, but as soon as I tasted it realized they used chocolate essence and not real cocoa, so it spikes with oversweetness before disappearing. It actually smelled of nutela. The honey was similar with a very light body and artifical sweetness to it that ends slightly tart. With things starting to go downhill a bit, I tried what I thought would be blockbusters to get us through with a Buffalo Belgian Stout and Van den Bossche Kerst Pater (Christmas beer that I had heard had chocolate as a flavour). Of course the later went to jaimi and I had the stout. The Kerst had similar nutela smell as the Floris Chocolat but had a malt backbone to give it a bit more in body and flavour.
The Stout was watery and had little interesting malt characteristics. Both of us were disappointed with them both. At this stage I tried again to pull out something big and so grabbed a Malheur Dark Brut. While it had a fair bit of alcohol flavour it held itself together ok, but not enough to get us out of the slump. So we decided to get out of the crowd and gain get something to eat. We ended up having Pho which was ok, but didn’t do much for me.
We had planned on heading back for two more beers, but by then the lineup to get into the drinking area was long and it looked like some folks on the inside were stating to hit a certain level of drunkenness, so we stopped for a waffle and then a Rochefort 10, which I am drinking now as I made these notes in my new belgian beer weekend shirt. Jaimi agrees with me now that this is better than the 8, and needs warmth to help bring out the flavours. So we might try for a kip and then hit a bar nearby for one or two more beers before our final day at the Belgium beer weekend. I think I may have broke Jaimi a little bit and I am pretty cosy with my beer consumption, whereas he is feeling it a bit more.
Some things both Jaimi and can have definitely agreed on is that European girls have good cheekbones and look like they actually enjoy beer, and that a resolution to come from Jaimi Faulkner Appreciation Day at the Belgium Beer Weekend is that I should make a potato bake with Bailey’s instead of cream.I like both of these observations, and observing choads in the crowd of beer drinkers at this event.