Category Archives: Belgian Beers

Thankful for Craft Beer

Rodenbach Vintate Allagash Interlude Stone Enjoy By IPA Brux

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for craft beer. (I’m also thankful for lots of other things—and people—but this is a beer blog, so I won’t bore you with all that shit).

As I wandered around my local beer shop yesterday, stocking up for today’s holiday, I couldn’t help but feel happy about the current state of craft beer in my home state of Massachusetts and throughout the rest of the United States. I stopped in one of the liquor store aisles, surrounded by bomber bottles stacked so high I couldn’t see beyond them, and thought about how awesome it is that beer is finally getting the respect it deserves. Talented brewers are pushing the boundaries of beer making every day, and I, and all my fellow beer lovers, get to reap the benefits.  For that, I’m truly thankful.

What you see above is my Thanksgiving 2012 craft beer lineup. I plan to start with Stone Brewing Co.‘s fantastic Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA, then move on to the Russian River/Sierra Nevada collaboration wild ale, Brux. After that, I’ll either pop the cork on the Rodenbach Vintage 2009 or the Allagash 2009 Interlude; I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

I hope you’ve got something special to sip on today, too. Happy Thanksgiving, beer nerds.

UBN

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An Inside Look at the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels (Photos)

Cantillon brewer Jean Van Roy

I’ve been obsessed with Cantillon lately, ever since one of my Beer Guys hooked me up with a couple of bottles of Cantillion gueuze and a bottle of framboise, and after I had two Cantillon bottles at Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine last week. So I was psyched to see that Xinhuanet.com posted an image slide show from a recent tour of the brewery. I’ve read about Cantillon chief brewer Jean Van Roy a number of times, but this is the first image I’ve ever seen of the man.

Check out the full slide show for an inside look at Cantillon brewery in Brussels, Belgium.

UBN

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Get Your Cantillon Zwanze on Saturday, December 1, 2012

Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon bottles

Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon, one of the world’s finest Belgian-Lambic beer brewers, is holding its annual Zwanze Day celebration on Saturday, December 1, 2012, in 31 cities across the globe, and 16 of those locations are bars in the United States.

If you’re a fan of Lambic, gueuze or other sour beers—and you’re near one of the few official Zwanze Day bars—this is an event you don’t want to miss.

From Cantillon.be:

“Seeing that we had received numerous requests to organise a Zwanze Day this year we decided to recreate the very first Zwanze produced in 2008. As a reminder, that year’s vintage had been brought about by soaking rhubarb in Lambic. The ultimate result of that experiment was a very delicate and complex product in which the beer’ acidic taste struck a very nice balance with the plant’s tartness and then lingered long on the palate.

“For this new production batch we decided to work with organically-grown rhubarb, and you can really taste this in the beer, which is more structured and full-bodied than the 2008 vintage. We opted to recreate the rhubarb Lambic because very few consumers had been able to taste this beer 4 years ago, when only 300 litres had been produced. On top of this, unlike fruit crops, rhubarb production was not adversely affected by the very poor weather which hit Europe this spring. And finally, the last, perhaps most important reason of all for bringing back Zwanze 2008: my wife tells me it’s one of her favourites.”

Here’s a list of all the Zwanze Day bars/cities:

America – USA:

  • Armsby Abbey – Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Avenue Pub – New Orleans, Louisiana
  • ChurchKey – Washington, D.C.
  • Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar – Denver, Colorado
  • Holy Grale – Louisville, Kentucky
  • Hop and Vine – Portland, Oregon
  • Lord Hobo – Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Monk’s Café – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Novare Res Bier Café – Portland, Maine
  • REAL a gastropub – Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Redlight Redlight – Orlando, Florida
  • Spuyten Duyvil – Brooklyn, New York
  • The Foundry – Kansas City, Missouri
  • The Trappist – Oakland, California
  • Toronado – San Diego, California
  • West Lakeview Liquors – Chicago, Illinois

America – Canada:

  • Canada – Montréal : Dieu du Ciel

Europe :

  • Belgium – Brussels : Moeder Lambic Fontainas
  • Belgium – Brussels : Moeder Lambic Saint-Gilles
  • Belgium – Arlon : Mi-Orge Mi-Houblon
  • France – Paris : La Fine Mousse
  • France – Lille : La Capsule
  • Great Britain – London : The Earl of Essex
  • Italy Rome : Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà
  • Italy Bergamo : The Dome
  • Italy Nicorvo : Sherwood Pub
  • Italy – Quinto Vicentino : The Drunken Duck
  • Italy – Quartu Sant’Elena : Ristopub Margherita
  • Norway – Grimstad : Nøgne Ø
  • Finland Helsinki : Pikkulitu
  • Denmark Copenhagen : Olbutikken
  • Netherlands – Amsterdam : De Bierkoning
  • Sweden Stockholm : Akkurat
  • Spain – Sant Joan de Mediona : Masia Agullons

Asia:

  • Japan – Tokyo: Embassy of Belgium

I will most definitely be attending the Zwanze Day event at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Mass. As far as I can tell, you don’t need tickets for any of these events; they’re first come, first serve. I was fortunate enough to find bottles of Cantillon Vigneronne and Saint Lamvinus last week at Novare Res Bier Cafe in Portland, Maine, two fantastic Lambics made with grapes, and I seriously can’t stop thinking about them. And Cantillon Zwanze Day 2012 can’t get here soon enough.

UBN

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Today I Got a Larry Bird Haircut

Larry Bird Haircut beer

Seriously. But, no, I’m not sporting a greasy golden mullet. I’m talking about a golden Belgian strong ale from my favorite Massachusetts brewpub, Cambridge Brewing Co.

Larry Bird Haircut tastes much better than its name suggests. In fact, it’s a very solid brew. And I literally can’t say the name without grinning. Well done, CBC.

Cambridge Brewing Co. Larry Bird Haircut

“Hey man, nice Larry Bird haircut!”

UBN

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Rare New Beer Alert: Chimay Spéciale Cent Cinquante

Chimay Spéciale Cent Cinquante

In early August, Belgian Trappist brewer Chimay announced its 150th anniversary beer, called Spéciale Cent Cinquante, which (roughly) means “special 150” in French. Chimay’s Spéciale Cent Cinquante is a pale, Belgian strong ale, and it looks like it’s hitting U.S. store shelves now—albeit in very small quantities and only in certain states.

Chimay reportedly only brewed 12,500 cases of this special anniversary Belgian ale, and the United States will only see 2,500 of them, according to a press release from Hunterdon Distributors, which sold its allotment of 500 bottles in a single week.

Chimay Spéciale Cent Cinquante will be available in Virginia, Florida, California, Kansas, New York, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico, according to Hunterdon, but it seems likely other distributors will ship the beer to additional U.S. states.

So beer nerds should be on the lookout for this rare, new limited-edition brew, which will never be made again. I’m a big fan of Chimay, and I’ll definitely do everything I can to get my hands on the Spéciale Cent Cinquante ale. If you find a bottle, buy it immediately—and then promptly send it me. Please. (Hunterdon also says Chimay will release another special anniversary Chimay Vintage Grand Réserve later this year, but I couldn’t find any specific details about that ale.)

More about Spéciale Cent Cinquante, from Chimay:

“This special edition is a full bodied and distinctive strong beer developed within the abbey to celebrate and honour the 150th anniversary of the brewery. Produced with 100% natural ingredients, its pale golden robe and champagne sparkle is topped by a rich white head of foam. The distinctive bouquet evokes the rich fruity and complex notes of the Chimay yeast in harmony with a delicate spicy note and the fragrance of fresh noble hops. At 10% alcohol, the flavour is full bodied and complex with a slight but refreshing tang note and a crisp hop finish that will delight the palate.”

UBN

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Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend Review

Brouwerij Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend

What’s better than a nice, aged lambic? Why, a blend of four lambics of different ages, of course. Geuze beers are traditionally unfiltered, unpasteurized blends of one-year, two-year and three-year-old lambics that are bottle conditioned for at least a year, but Belgian brewer Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen‘s Oude Geuze Golden Blend is unique because it’s equal parts one-year, two-year, three-year and four-year old oak-aged lambic.

Oude Geuze Golden Blend is a special creation from Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen’s master lambic blender Armand Debelder, and it is a one-time limited release. As such, it’s quite rare because relatively little of the beer was made.

My 12.7 FL OZ bottle cost me $32—it’s certainly not cheap—and it has been sitting on my shelf for a while now. It was bottled on February 17, 2011. And it has an ABV of 6%. Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen says its Oude Geuze Golden Blend will age well for as long as ten years. But I couldn’t wait another day.

When I opened the bottle its cork nearly took my eye out; it rocketed out of the bottle’s stem as soon as I removed its decorative foil and untwisted the cork cover. I quickly poured the geuze into a small goblet to avoid spillage, and it instantly formed a frothy, bubbly head, like Champagne. It’s darker than I expected, with a tanish, dark-sand color. Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend has a sweet, tangy-and-sour aroma and a funky, musky body. It’s very tart with a mild sour-acidic taste and a surprisingly bitter aftertaste. The aftertaste sort of rubbed me the wrong way at first, because it was unexpected, but it grew on me as I drank the brew.

Before drinking Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend, my favorite geuze was Boon’s Geuze Mariage Parfait. The Golden Blend is a bit more complex, but I think I still prefer Boon’s Geuze Mariage Parfait.

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend gets a 7/10 rating on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. (It has an impressive rating of 95/100 on BeerAdvocate.com based on 46 user reviews at the time of posting.)

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Marble Taps at the Publick House in Brookline, MA

Green marble taps in the Monk's Cell at the Publick House

The Publick House in Brookline, MA’s Washington Square sits atop my list of Boston’s best beer bars not only due to its impressive beer selection, but also thanks to its ambiance. One of my favorite aesthetic touches: The green-marble and sterling-silver taps in the Publick House’s Monk Cell’s, where they only pour Belgian brews.

UBN

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Fantôme Extra Sour Special Original Creation (2012) Review

Fantome Extra Sour Belgian Saison in Tulip Glass

I must admit, I’m excited about this review. I’m excited because I’ve had Brasserie Fantôme’s Extra Sour Special Original Creation once before, and it’s a one of a kind saison. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the top five brews I’ve had this year—and the Urban Beer Nerd drinks a lot of different kinds of great beer. (I drink so much good beer that I can refer to myself in the third person when describing my craft beer consumption.)

Here’s why I love it so much. I love quality saisons, and I love sour beers. And Fantôme Extra Sour is one of best saisons and one of the best sours I’ve ever tasted.

Fantôme Brewery is a small specialty brewer located in the small town of Soy, Wallonia, Belgium, that produces only saisons. The Fantôme brewing facility is so small that it can only produce tiny batches of beer, and as such, its saisons, especially it’s “Special Creations,” or limited production can be difficult to find and very expensive.

The packaging is simple yet elegant with just two small labels at the bottle’s base and a thin-paper ribbon over the bottle cap. To open the dark-green bottle you first must remove the paper, pop a bottle cap and then pull the cork using a tradition wine corkscrew, which is the case with all Fantôme’s “bomber” bottles. I poured the golden-honey potion into a large tulip glass and it settled nicely with a frothy cuttlebone-colored head. You can smell the sweet-sour tang as soon as you put your nose close to the brew, along with the funky Belgian yeast.

Fantôme Extra Sour taste like a smooth, fresh saison at first but it finishes with a mouth-puckering-but not-too-acidic sour bang. It’s a big beer with a 10% ABV, and the sour funkiness mostly kills the alcohol taste. But it does leave a mild burn and you feel it after a few large sips.

Of my favorite sour styles is the barrel-aged Flanders red ale, and though Fantôme Extra Sour is very different than the popular Flanders ales such as Rodenbach, it has a similar barrel-tang that really combines nicely with the saison style.

Fantome Extra Sour labels

Fantôme’s Extra Sour “Speciale” is the second is limited series of Special Creations from the brewery, and as mentioned above, it’s extremely rare and expensive. My “bomber” bottle (1 pint, 9.4 fluid ounces) cost $32. As much as I love saison, that’s a lot of money for beer. If you see a Fantôme Extra Sour for sale, I recommend purchasing it and saving it for a special occasion.  Good luck finding it, though.

This sour saison gets a 9/10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. (BeerAdvocate.com readers rated Fantôme Extra Sour at 4.85/5, though only four readers submitted ratings at the time of this post.)

Check out Brasserie Fantôme’s website for more details on the Belgian brewery. (Website is in French.)

UBN

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Timmerman’s Framboise Lambicus (2012) Review

One of my favorite craft beer styles right now is the lambic. I really like sour beers, and many lambics are quite sour or at least very tart. And many are brewed with fruit.

My latest sour lambic: Timmerman’s Framboise Lambicus (2012). It came in a large “bomber” bottle (1 pint, 9.36 fl. oz.), and it was bottled on May 31, 2012. The price was $12.25, though pricing will vary based on retailer.

Timmerman's Framboise Lambicus in a Goblet

First thing you notice after removing the cork is a very strong raspberry scent that immediately wafts out of the bottle. (Framboise is the French word for raspberry.) I poured the brew very slowly into a small-stemmed goblet, and it settled with medium carbonation and very little head. The color of the beer is a beautiful and vivid deep pinkish-red, and it seems to glow if you hold it up to a light.

The raspberry flavor tastes natural, unlike many framboise lambics or other raspberry flavored beers that taste fake or too sugary.  Some lambics are noticeably acidic. This one isn’t. And that’s a good thing. The brew is also aged in oak, though the associated flavor is rather mild.

Timmerman’s Framboise Lambicus has a low, 4.0ABV, and you really can’t taste any alcohol. In fact, it tastes a lot like a carbonated raspberry juice.

I’m still working a better rating system for the Urban Beer Nerd blog, but right now, I’m using a 10-point system, with 10 points being the best possible rating. I give Timmerman’s Framboise Lambicus a 7/10 rating. (BeerAdvocate.com user rating is 74/100 based on 63 reviews at the time of this post.)

Deep pinkish-red color of Timmerman's Framboise Lambicus

Timmerman’s claims to be the “World’s oldest lambic brewery,” and the Belgian brewery is part of the Anthony Martin “Finest Beer Selection” family of brewers.

Learn more about Timmerman’s Framboise Lambicus or order the beer online from the Anthony Martin website.

UBN

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