Category Archives: Breweries

Buying Belgian Beer Online and Shipping It to the US

Belgian beer bottles Cantillon Fantome 3F Rodenbach

A few of the beers I purchased from BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet

Being the Urban Beer Nerd that I am, I’m always on the lookout for rare, hard-to-find, unique and limited-release brews. Many of my favorite breweries are located in Belgium and elsewhere overseas. Often these breweries’ most unique beers are released in very limited quantities, and the brews that do make it to America are often difficult to locate and/or very expensive.

So a few months ago, I started researching ways to buy my own Belgian beer online and then ship it to Boston, where I can sit in the comfort of my own home with the rare beer of my choice. I was sick of only being able to drink Cantillon beers a few times a year and paying an arm and a liver for bottles when I could find them.

I came up with the following two websites, which I’ve since ordered from at least three times each and had no problems: BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet (BieresGourmet.be).

Before I go on, a warning seems appropriate: When you order beer online, you do so at your own risk. Depending on where you live, it may not “legal” in the strictest sense of the word to buy beer online from an international retailer to ship to your locale. And in many cases, shipping companies will not accept and deliver packages with beer in them.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll say that personally, I have not had any issues ordering beer from BelgiumInABox.com or EtreGourmet. And when the sites declared the contents of my boxes of beer, as is required by Customs, they usually wrote something like “lambic glassware” or “collectible bottles,” which was technically true because I usually bought glassware in addition to beer.

Anyway, both of these sites offer reasonable prices on beer from my favorite Belgian breweries, including Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Fantome, Rodenbach, Tilquin and Blaugies. Shipping is expensive, but it’s not too much more than the markup you’d pay for a rare bottle at a beer bar or through a retailer. For example, the last time I ordered from BelgiumInABox.com, I purchased a 750ml bottle of Cantillon’s 2013 Kriek Lambic Bio (about $13), a 750ml bottle of 2012 Fantome Saison (about $9) and a 3 Fonteinen gueuze glass (about $16) for a total of roughly $38, and the shipping cost around $43.

My previous EtreGourmet order looked like this: a 750ml bottle of Rodenbach Caractère Rouge (about $20) and two 375ml bottles of Oude Quetsche Tilquin 2012-2013 (about $25 for both). The shipping was about $53.

The shipping is expensive, but I’ve been willing to pay it for beers I would not otherwise be able to find in the United States. I feel confident my payment card information is secure, because BelgiumInaBox uses Ogone for payment processing, a well-known and trusted Europe payment processing service, and EtreGourment accepts PayPal. And both sites have HTTP Secure Web pages for payments.

My packages of beer arrived in great shape, and overall, I’m very pleased with the experience with both BelgiumInABox.com and EtreGourmet. Another site that’s been recommended to me is BeerPlanet.eu, but I’ve heard rumors about some of the site’s shipments being held up in customs, so I never ordered from them.

I probably shouldn’t even be writing this post, because it may draw unwanted attention to these sites and services, but fuck it. A post like this would have been helpful to me when I was trying to fine reputable sites to order from, so I wanted to share my experiences.

UBN

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Cantillon Blåbær Blueberry Lambic ’13 Bottled Today, Very Limited Distribution

Cantillon Blåbær Blueberry Lambic label

I like Cantillon beers. A lot.

I’m always seeking news ways to obtain the incredibly-rare lambics, and I keep a close eye on the brewery online and in social-media circles.

This morning, Cantillon announced via Facebook that its super-exclusive, you-can’t-fucking-have-any-unless-you-live-in-or-near-Belgium lambic made with blueberries, Cantillon Blåbær, was bottled today. Only a single barrel, or 300 liters, was made. It will be shipped out at the end of June, but Blåbær will only be available at a specialty beer shop in Copenhagen called Ølbutikken. (“Ølbutikken” translates to The Beer Shop.)

Unfortunately, Ølbutikken doesn’t ship beers, but you can contact them and ask them to hold bottles for you if you plan to be in Copenhagen within the next month or so.

I will not be in Copenhagen anytime soon, so I guess Blåbær is going to remain on my Must-Have Beers list for the foreseeable future.

UBN

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Tuesday is Gueuzeday

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Ya heard? Tuesday is gueuzeday, at least in these parts.

I like to celebrate the death of the start of the work week and the coming of humpday with a nice, room-temp tumbler of Belgian gueuze – preferably Cantillon or Tilquin. The gueuze pictured in the image above is Gueuzerie Tilquin’s fantastic Oude Quetsche Tilquin A l’ancienne, a top-notch gueuze made with plums. I’ve never seen this one for sale in the United States; I shipped mine in from Belgium. So you probably won’t be able to find this particular spontaneously-fermented beverage. But I strongly suggest running out to your local purveyor of fine beer right now so you too can partake in the Guezeday festivities.  If nothing else, it’s an excuse to drink on Tuesday.

UBN

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Anchor California Lager Now Available Outside of the Golden State

Anchor California Lager Label

I’ve been drinking Anchor Brewing Co. beers for years. I’m a big fan of Anchor Steam and its Liberty Ale, in particular. So, a few months back, when I heard that Anchor was brewing a new beer – a recreation of an old brew – I was rather excited to try it ASAP. I was equally disappointed to hear that the new brew, Anchor California Lager, would only be available in Anchor’s home state of California.

From Anchor Brewing:

“Anchor Steam’s roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable California option. In 1876, thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State, a little brewery named Boca created California’s first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager® is our re-creation of this historic beer.”

Last month I was in San Francisco covering Google’s I/O conference, and picked up a couple of six packs of Anchor California Lager. Normally, I’m much more of an ale guy, but I had been drinking IPAs and sour ales beforehand, and I felt like something a little lighter. California Lager fit that bill nicely, and at the time, I kept wishing that I could get the beer back home in Boston.

Yesterday, Anchor announced that I can, or I will be able to soon. California Lager will begin shipping to a number of new markets this month, and it will be available June through September 2013. The markets are as follows: Nevada, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

If you’re located in one of these states, I definitely recommend picking up a sixer of California Lager post haste.

UBN

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Chilled – Not Frozen – Craft Beer is Happy Craft Beer

Novelsit Haruki Murakami with a frozen Budweiser can

“[A] cold beer at the end of the day is the best thing life has to offer. Some choosy people say that a too cold beer doesn’t taste good, but I couldn’t disagree more. The first beer should be so cold you can’t even taste it. The second one should be a little less chilled, but I want that first one to be like ice. I want it to be so cold my temples throb with pain. This is my own personal preference of course.”

– Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Freezing, ice-cold beer may be Mr. Murakami’s preference–or the preference of the character who’s speaking in his novel, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. But it sure isn’t mine.

Call me “choosy,” but unless I’m drinking Budweiser or some other watered-down, poor-tasting brew, I’d rather drink it chilled or close to room temperature.

That’s just my own personal preference of course.

The colder the beer, the less you can taste it. Ice-cold liquids numb your taste buds. That’s a fact, and one you can easily test. Just do a side-by-side tasting of a freezing cold brew and a room temperature one. Now, if you choose to drink shitty beer, than freezing cold may be the way to go. But with so much good beer on the market, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not truly tasting and savoring it.

UBN

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Scenes from an Allagash Brewery Tour in Portland, Maine

Yesterday I spent the day in Portland, Maine, hitting up various beer nerd spots, including Allagash Brewing Co., where I took part in a tasting and a brewery tour.

If you’re ever in the Portland area, I definitely recommend a stop at Allagash. Even if you’ve never been to Maine and/or don’t plan on visiting any time soon, the following images give you an idea of what you’d see during a tour of one of New England’s, and America’s, best and most creative Belgian-inspired breweries.

The entrance to Allagash' brewery on a rainy day in Portland, ME

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Allagash Coolship Cerise and FV13 sour ale for sale in the retail store. Coolship bottles are only sold at the Allagash Brewery.

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Allagash beer and tshirts for sale in the retail store

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Allagash brewing and fermenting tanks

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Mini kegs of Allagash’s rare Coolship Resurgam in the barrel-aging room

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UBN

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5 O’Clock on Friday is Rodenbach Time

Fuck Guinness Time. It’s five o’clock on Friday, and that’s Rodenbach time as far as I’m concerned. I’m about to crack a frosty Flemish red, and I thought I’d share this funky old vintage Rodenbach sign I recently found on the Belgian brewer’s Facebook page:

Rodenbach Time vintage sign

And here’s my very own Rodenbach Grand Cru:

Rodenbach Grand Cru bottle and glassware

This is the first beer I’ve had this week, so I’m really looking forward to it. Happy Friday, errybuddy. Cheers, sláinte, proost, santé and all that good stuff.

UBN

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The One Book Every Beer Nerd Should Own

The Oxford Companion to Beer book with Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen gueuze bottles

Last Christmas I received a number of great beer-related gifts, including a set of Spiegelau Beer Connoisseur glasses that I use all the time. But the gift that I’ve got the most from is The Oxford Companion to Beer. The book is an amazingly in-depth encyclopedia-like tome with information on just about everything you could ever want to know about beer. I consult it constantly, to clarify beer terminology, do research for posts on this blog and much more.

The Oxford Companion to Beer is edited by Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver. But it’s composed of writings from more than 165 beer experts from more than 20 countries. And though some entries go into painstaking detail, the majority of the book is easy to read and understand. And it’s organized alphabetically so it’s easy to look up whatever beer, brewery, brewing method or any other term you’re interested in.

The book doesn’t come cheap, with a cover price of $65. But it’s worth the money, in my opinion, and you can find deals on The Oxford Companion to Beer online at sites like Amazon.com, which currently sells the hardcover version of the book for $38.40 plus shipping and the digital Kindle edition for just $19.24.

I highly recommend picking up a copy. I’ve read a number of books and articles on beer and brewing, but The Oxford Companion to Beer is by far my favorite.

UBN

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AB InBev’s Latest Monstrosity: Bud Light Lime ‘Straw-Ber-Rita’

Bud Light Straw-ber-ita can

One of the worst days of 2012 for me was a few days before Christmas, when my underage, college-going niece asked me to buy her and her two cheerleader friends a “30 rack of Bud Light Lime.”

I refused, of course. Not because I didn’t want to buy beer for a 19 year old and her giggly buddies—I’m a lowlife, after all. I refused because she used the term “30 rack of Bud Light Lime.”

Bud Light is relatively cheap. It’s not challenging. It’s low in alcohol so even amateur drunks can consume it for long periods of time. And it’s consistent, so you know what you’re getting every time you buy a “30 rack.” For these reasons and more, it’s incredibly popular.

But Bud Light is also boring. So AB InBev has to use lots of silly marketing techniques to keep young drinkers and people who don’t actually like beer interested. Techniques that include making beer that tastes like things that don’t taste like beer. Fruit juice, for example, and then putting it in brightly color cans and bottles of all shapes and sizes.

According to a tweet from CNBCBeerNews on Twitter, Bud Light Lime was the second most popular new alcohol release of 2012. I have no idea if this is true or what the number one new release was—probably something that tastes even less like beer than Bud Light Lime. But I know Bud Light Lime is hugely popular among college students, particularly female coeds. And I bet AB InBev’s brand new Bud Light Lime Straw-ber-rita, which is reportedly being released today, will be equally popular.

If you honestly like Bud Light Lime, man, you should drink it to your heart’s content and not care what anybody else thinks. To each his (or her) own. But I dread the day that I have I hear the term “30 rack of Bud Light Lime Straw-ber-rita.” I don’t even like writing it.

Fuck a Straw-ber-ita; drink a damn margarita is you want a beverage that tastes like one.

UBN

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Beer Porn: Bottles of Cantillon Zwanze 2013

Bottles of Cantillon Zwanze 2013 in Brussels Belgium

Last week, I posted about Brasserie Cantillon‘s 2014/2015 Zwanze beer, which will very likely be a spontaneously-fermented stout. I’ve been searching for details on the 2013 version of Cantillon’s Zwanze, an annual, limited-release beer that’s different each year, but I haven’t come up with anything. In fact, it seems as though Cantillon and its lead brewer Jean Van Roy are being somewhat secretive about the 2013 Zwanze beer.

The picture above comes from Twitter user Kyle Black (@kylefblack), and it was taken yesterday at the Cantillon brewery in Brussels, Belgium. The image shows bottles of 2013 Zwanze and 2013 gueuze. When Black asked about Zwanze 2013, the Cantillon staff would not share any details. That’s unfortunate, but I’m still glad to see this fine bit of beer porn. It was all but certain that Cantillon has a 2013 Zwanze in the works, and this image seems to confirm it. This Zwanze 2013 appears to have been bottled in October 2012. For more on Zwanze, check out my post from a 2012 Zwanze Day celebration.

Thanks again for sharing, Kyle.

UBN

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