Why did I pick another Flemish Red so early on in these Sour Beer Studies? I think I am still wary of those dry lambics in the stash and Stonch has spoken so highly of the style that I thought what the heck.
First thing to note is that is this a beer that was kept on the wood as well so could be a cross over post to the About Oaked Beer series, too...so I will. Then, interesting to note that Michael Jackson claims the Verhaege family (no latter "h" in my 2000 edition of his Great Beer Guide) has been brewing in Vichte since the 1500s and that this beer is brewed in oak vessels dating from the 1880s. The brewery's website is in Flemish but I once worked in Holland and like to pretend I can hack my way though. Well, I can't really (though I know Smaak: zoet-zurig, fruitig means "Taste: sweet-sour, fruity") but there are plenty of photos on their history page including those big oak vessels. 4% of BAers do not like it but they really do not like the style which makes it difficult even if it is honest.
The beer pours deep chestnut with a quickly resolving tan head. On the pop of the 750 ml cork top there was a whiff of candy floss that dissipated leaving the aroma of sweet cherry candy and balsamic vinegar. A soft and still sourish ale in the mouth but by far the most approachable I can remember trying. Plenty of fruit and sweetness like a Polish cherry wine but under layers of soft water and a hardwood veneer of a more dignified sort than your average rec room panelling. Somewhat like sweet Cinzano, too, with herbal notes of rosemary and thyme. Far less sour than the Panil Barriquée that I tried a few weeks ago. A slight dryness right at the end in the middle of the tongue. I want to braise fennel root and lamb chops in it.
Funny to find myself thinking it but this beer could do with a wee boost of sourness. Maybe I am getting the hang of this stuff after all.
This finally came from Amazon.co.uk after ordering it not long after mid-February, right around when I decided to create The Pub Game Project. The roaring silence that followed was lesson enough that this book was very much needed in the library.
And what a treat it is. Now I can trick the children and push the weaker willed of the family, inducing them into playing Knur and Spell, Aunt Sally, Daddlums, Lawn Billiards and Dwyle Flunking. Rules, diagrams, hints to play and photos of the games in action. First published in 1975. Excellent.
Along with the Sour Beer Studies, there are other classes of beers that set themselves apart in some way other than reflecting traditional styles. Brewers are reintroducing techniques like beer on the wood to explore the limits of what beer can be and we'll look at them in this series. Dave Line in his 1974 text The Big Book of Brewing wrote about using wooden casks from a home brewing perspective at a time when he saw it as a dying art:
It is a great thrill to draw your own beer from the wood. The management of this beer is an art and it may take years to develop all the skills. I am by no means an expert, but I take comfort in the fact that I am learning the art of one of our most treasured crafts, and that perhaps my efforts will prolong the traditions of our heritage.Musette by Allagash is another nod to that tradition, this particular one aged on bourbon barrels for three months and then bottled in May 2006 - 32 years after Line feared for the loss of the heritage. At 10% it certainly reflects Line's preference that beers attempted to be aged on wood be high gravity. At opening, there was a breath of autumn apple from the bottle that stayed with the ale after the pour, providing maybe a hint of calvados mixed with the raisin-malty aroma. It pours a thick clingy white foam head over deep orange amber ale. In the mouth plenty of roundness of raisin, date and apple with a Belgian musty yeast all cut by a hardwood vanilla dryness from the oak with a bit of tea astringency in the finish. Described by the brewer as aimed at the Belgian made Scotch ales like this silly one reviewed last January, the effect is somewhere between dubbel and barleywine. Very nice but not cheap at $15.59 USD for 750 ml.
We all know the story of India Pale Ale but Bob asks in the comments whether the Dutch ever did a similar thing:
Bob Schneider [11:37 PM June 25, 2007]Good enough to be brought up to the surface for a little bit more of a think....or a thunk if I can't come up with anything. I will check through Unger's texts but if anyone else has any ideas, please share.
I realise that this is a review of a book but I was wondering if you could satisfy my curiosity. When I was brewing professionally in Holland, MI, I was trying to come up with a beer name and tagline that connected with the Dutch East India Trading Company (correct name?) similar to India Pale Ale shipped to British troops stationed in India. I did some research but ended up making an IPA with our house German ale yeast. When I put the beer on tap at the brew pub, the owners renamed it anyway. It was still one of the best IPAs I have made.
So my question is; Did the Dutch traders ship beer as a commodity in trade for Asian goods? If yes, what years, what style? Were hops used in any manner then?
I got word from Ron Pattison of the extremely excellent European Beer Guide that he has started a blog. In his initial post he considers his lot in life, the prospect of blogging and especially his relation to the masses of beery information he has amassed and fell in love with through the years:
The internet. That's where sad loners, their heads full of words no-one wants to hear, feel at home. Hi! Great to be here. I'm sure we're going to get on really well.Excellent stuff and, along with Knut's heads up about Maeib, who is more of a toddler rather than a newborn, the second new UK beer blog I learned about today.
Barclay Perkins. Barclay Perkins. How liberating it feels to say those two forbidden words out loud. It isn't allowed here. How many times have I heard Andrew or Alexei say: "Shut up about your stupid Barclay Perkins." It's weird. My kids have no interest in the changes in Mild grists between 1880 and 1890. What's wrong with them? Have I taught them nothing?
There is nothing slacker than a blogger blogging about what another blog is blogging about. But I am compelled this weekend by the advance in thought about "craft beer" that Lew Bryson has, characteristically, trigged and Stonch has expanded upon in relation to UK brewing. Just as Hobbes's Leviathan has that mid-book chapter that summarizes everything and so is the better point of entry, so too has Lew provided a very useful summary at about comment 38:
We're getting some divergent ideas of what "craft beer" means.While I am happy to have entered into the discussion about beer in the way A Good Beer Blog and your reading and commenting allows, I am still in many ways at a loss as to what it is I am doing. Some days I wake up and think "what am I going to do for beer today" as I try to think about a topic for the next post. Other days I think this is all a huge waste of time and a cover for a problem. But, still, there is that thing, that discussion happening about the product of people who work a craft in the way that sets it apart - it is not an industry at a certain level - and that is what compels. There is an exchange of craft for value that is like the art on my walls or the organic farmer's way. And its product is both an end and a means: at its best a refined and delicate consumable product as well as an opportunity for conviviality, an anti-snobbish agency that is also transferred with the ale or lager that can improve one's life as part of a larger genial community if you let it. And that second bit is actually free.A different kind of beer.I like Sid's UK view of "no craft, no macro," just "micro" and "brewery," based loosely on size, but it doesn't address the beer...which is probably more a reflection of the wider variety of beer that's always been available in the UK.
A different kind of brewery.
A different kind of brewing process.
A beer-centered social movement.
A different brewer's perspective.
There's life in this discussion, still.
How do you capture all that in a descriptor? Can you expect it to be all bound up in one phrase?
I popped over the border yesterday with the family for a US shopping spree. Nothing over the top but seeing as we have Watertown NY, a neighbouring a small US City with a college league baseball team, a place with good ribs, a mall with good hoodies for 15 bucks and a 94 cent dollar, why not.
On the way over, we stopped on the way at the Alex Bay Mart, a grocery store in the Thousand Island's resort town of Alexandria Bay, NY. It has the best selection I have found east of C's Farm Market in Oswego, west of Bessettes in Canton and north of the Galeville Grocery. Unfortunately, this is not saying much yet they do have a few beers from Sackets Harbor, Magic Hat, Ithaca, Long Trail and Saranac among other things - but sadly no Middle Ages or Ommegang...which you would think would be sort of obvious selections to carry. But even with only a decent choice, it is worth the visit because one of the best things about the Alex Bay Mart is the price. All the beers but one that I picked up were $5.99 a six pack. Including Saranac Imperial IPA. The brewer says it's made with "brewed with 10 different hops and 10 different malts and is 8.5% alcohol and 85 IBUs" and I say it is one of the smoothest richest double IPAs I have ever had. And at 6 bucks for 72 ounces of double IPA, that is like six bucks for 3.25 bombers or $1.85 a 22 oz bomber - for a really presentable double IPA.
I will pop down some sipping notes later but for now suffice it to say I am feeling both clever and lucky to have a few in the stash.
At four yesterday afternoon, the radio said there was a tornado in Tompkins County, NY, 20 miles west and headed my way. This is NY, not Kansas, but the sky had that boiling look and the rain and hail and wind started, and I battened down the hatches and unplugged everything. It was a whopper of a storm, but the tornado and damage did not amount to much at my house. I was hoping the neighbor's leaning tree would fall over into my yard and crush the old car, resulting in a large cash payment and a new car, but it didn't happen this time.
Despite that, it was still a perfect evening to try Keegan Ales's Hurricane Kitty. As my wife said later "It is the best beer to pack into the cooler and head for the safety of the basement." Calling itself a coppery IPA, it is certainly dark colored and pours with a huge foamy head and the scent of a million hops. This is one of the strongest IPAs I have tasted, thick bodied in feeling and taste, like sitting in a field eating fresh cut hay. I have often tried an otherwise good ale and asked why they couldn’t have thrown in a couple more hops, but in this case they threw in the whole bushel. Turns out they have opened a brewpub. I suggest that a field trip to this place would be in order for all readers of the beer blog. Pubcrawler tells us this is a good idea. "The perfect drink for a severe storm" says the wife, and indeed, maybe for other times too.
This is a very interesting brew and from a new brewer for me. Like a dubbel mixed with Orval. There is all the malty burlap, brown sugary, date and fig of a beer like Ommegang (plus some vanilla and black cherry of its own) but then there is also the limey lavender that I associate with some of the great Trappists, especially Orval and Rochefort. It's there in the aroma as well: floral and sweet - something of a botanical contradiction. A fine, slightly antiqued red tan head over bright clear chestnut ale. Very soft water making it very moreish even with a respectable 7.5%. Three of every 100 BAers are not impressed, unlike me. There is a freshness and tangy zip to this dubbel that keeps it from being overly cloying on a thundery evening - even with that burlappy thing.