Friday, March 24, 2006

Belgian Beer no.42: Timmermans Lambicus Blanche

I’ll admit I bought this beer purely based on its label. I have done that before, so as such not a new move. The label portrays brewers from the 1900s in front of the Timmermans Brewery. The Timmermans Brewery dates back to 1781 and it remains one of he few breweries in Belgium which still brews Lambic beers.
The Timmermans Lambicus Blanche is a blonde beer, quite fruity and light, probably a very refreshing summer drink (beer) at 4.5%. Again you don’t even want to know how many beers the Lambicus Blanche brought with it in my endless count of Belgian Beers. It seems Timmermans Lambicus Blanche has a series of siblings: the Dominus Double and Tripel, the Bourgogne des Flandres, the Branbant series – the Pils de Brabant, the Blanche de Brabant, and the Rousse de Brabant. And then the Timmermans line, counting nine (!!!) different beers. Have faith Andreea, have faith. At one point the journey will end :)
So the nine other Timmermans are: Gueuze Caveau Lambic Tradition; Gueuze Lambic Tradition; Faro Lambic Tradition; Kriek Lambic Tradition; and the fruit Timmermans - the Kriek, the Peche, the Framboise, and the Agrum (that’s a new one, go figure!).
No recipe.

Belgian Beer no.41: Brigand, the Flemish peasant

Again a beer which links to a former one – the Kasteelbier. Brewed in memory of the brigands (the Flemish peasants), who chased the sans-culottes (the French soldiers) out of Ingelmunster.
I like it so much when history plays its role in defining a drink or a trype of food. Then again, as mentioned before it seems no reason is weak enough for the Belgians to brew a beer for it...
The Brigand is a strong, powerful dark beer at 9%.

Carrot and celery soup, with ham on the bone (serves 4)

400gr carrots
300gr celery
150gr ham on the bone (cooked)
1 onion
2tbsp mild curry
4tbsp oil
0.8l chicken stock
75cl bottle Brigand beer
1dl cream
2tbsp finely chopped celery
salt and pepper

Clean and dice the carrots. Remove strings from the celery and chop. Peel and thinly slice the onion. Heat the oil in a pan, add the vegetables and cook gently stirring from time to time. Reduce the heat, add a little stock and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove the vegetables, blend in a mixer and return to the pan. Add the rest of the stock, the curry and the Brigand beer, cook over high heat for ten to fifteen minutes. Then add the cream, season with pepper and salt.
Serve the soup in preheated bowls; add the ham cut in long thin strips and the finely chopped celery.
Serve with a loaf of French bread or an Italian giabatta and a glass of well-chilled Brigand beer.
(recipe from the Brigand website)

Belgian Beer no.40: Het Kapittel Prior

I am not sure I should be discouraged, or if actually all is just pure joy? At a certain point I might just as well stop counting. Now at beer 40, with a lot of lateral ones discovered through the main (tasted) beer.
No difference to the ones tried before, the Kapittel Prior Watou opened the door (well Internet) to 6 other beers. And the numbers just seem to be going up. It will take me a life time to go through all the Belgian Beers.
Kapittel Prior Watou. I liked this beer very much. Starting off as a pure fruity beer lover, it seems my taste buds are evolving and I enjoyed this beer at 9% very much.
If you wonder about the name/ label combination, the explanation is the following: kapittel in Flemish refers to the hierarchical differences made between priests and fathers within a monastery.
The ‘brothers’ of Kapittel Watou are: Kapittel Pater (6%), Kapittel Dubbel (9%), Kapittel Abt (10%), Kapittel Blond (6.5%), Hommelbier (7.5%), Watou’s Wit (5%).
No recipe.

Belgian Beer no.39: Vichtenaar

Same old, same old. Although I never made the connection, but Vichtenaar is brewed by the same people as the Duchesse de Bourgogne.
A dark brown-red beer, the Vichtenaar is quite light compared to the rest of Belgian beers at 5.1%.
No recipe.

Belgian Beer no.38: Sint Bernardus Abt 12

When I said that discovering a new beer is always linked with a Pandora like effect, of discovering another extra 5, I was not joking. At the moment it does seem as if I am in an endless exercise of never-ending beer trying.
Sint Bernardus was such a discovery. In the heat of the evening, I went directly for a St. Bernardus Abt 12 (needles to say it almost tasted like wine, and so good). However it seems that in the village of Watou, the brewery is also producing the St. Bernardus Prior 8 and Pater 6, the Tripel (8%), the Watou Tripel (7.5%), the Witbier (5.5%), and the Grottenbier (6.5%).
What I found interesting about this beer is that till quite recently it was considered to be a Trappist Beer, losing its qualification in 1992 due to the fact that Trappist Beers can only be produced within the walls of a Trappist Monastery.
No recipe.
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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Belgian Beer no.37: Hercule, the detective

Not Hercule Poirot himself, but I have to admit the name was the first reason we bought this beer. The beer was indeed named after him, as the famous Belgian detective is the best-known citizen of Ellezelles (where the brewery is located).
Hercule Stout is one strong beer at 9%. However I loved the malt taste, slight caramel and deep dark colour.
Besides the Hercule, the brewery is producing the Quintine Blonde (8%) and Dark (8.5%), in memory of a famous witch of the region. And two more beers, the Blanche des Saisis (6.2%) and the Saison 2000 (6.5%).
Yey, more beer for me to try out!
No recipe.
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Belgian Beer no.36: Vondel, the artist

To continue. At the moment it feels like sleep, beer, sleep, beer. Well not as bad as that … Vondel. Isn’t that the coolest label ever? This beer is brewed at the Liefmans Brewery, which like every other brewery in Belgium brews again a whole range of beer. And dates all the way back to 1679
Starting with Vondel. It is a very dark beer, with caramel taste and quite a spicy note. At 8.5% again a strong Belgian beer. However it is just one of the beers brewed by Liefermans. Besides Vondel, they are also brewing the Dentergems (5%), the Lucifer (8.4), the St. Arnoldus (7.4), and finally the Straffe Hendrik Blond (6%) and Dark (8.5%). These are the ‘special beers’. Then the normal range covers the Kriek (cherry), Appel (apple), Framboos (raspberry) and the Perzik (peach). The Gluehkriek which is as much a mulled cherry beer (has to be drunken hot), the Goudenband (8%), the Jan van Gent (5.5%), the Oud Bruin (Old Brown at 5%), and the Abdis Blond (6.5%), Bruin (6.5%) and Tripel (8.2%). These are the new kids on the block!
Oh, and that makes another range of beers to try out. It seems every time I try one beer, happy to count one less, at least 5 other are emerging I didn’t know about…. I probably should start taking orders soon if anyone wants to try one or the other beer out and help me count down!
No recipe.
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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Belgian Beer no.35: Gouden Carolus, and the Belgian flag

Now this I like. Yet again though, any reason to brew beer in Belgium will do! Het Anker is brewing beers following the colours of the Belgian flag stating that it’s ‘Great to Beer a Belgian’.
There is the first one, Gouden Carolus Classic (the one I tried), a deep dark beer, at 8.5%, and colour no. 1: black. Then there is the Gouden Carolus Trippel, you guessed it – a deep blonde beer, at 9%, colour no. 2: yellow. And finally the Gouden Carolus Ambrio, as the name says it of an amber colour, at 8%, and with colour no. 3: red, the last one. And voila, you have the Belgian flag.
The brewery’s surprises don’t stop here. Once a year, on the 24th of February, birthday of the Charles V, the Cuvee van de Kaizer 11% is produced in limited quantities (didn’t know this one, might give it a go next year).
Further, there is the Gouden Carolus Christmas and Easter beer, the Anker-bok and Anker-blond, the Blusser and three types of Ankerbeers.
Now why did I ever think trying out all the Belgian beers might be a good idea?!
No recipe, but the brewery is also producing chocolate with the Gouden Carolus beer.

Belgian Beer no.34: Zinnebir, and the carnival

This is how complicated it can get in Belgium with the beers: they invent and brew a different beer just for a special occasion. Like the 12th edition of Zinneke, a carnival in Brussels. I mean hello?!
Zinnebir is brewed since 2002 due to the above reasons. Brewed in Sint Pieters Leeuw, Zinnebir is a relatively weak beer at 6% - all this of course when compared with the ‘usual’ Belgian beer. A quite bitter beer.
The brewery also produces the Christmas Zinnebir, which is only sold between 15 November and 31 December.
No recipe.

Belgian Beer no.33: Arabier

By the same people as the Oerbier, yet again a funny looking bottle. Arabier is a pure malt beer 7° brewed with flower Nugget-hops from Poperinge.
Two more beers to try by Dolle Brouwers, the Boskeun (Easter beer) and the Stille Nacht (Christmas beer).
No recipe.

Belgian Beer no.32: Oerbier, by the happy brewers

The brewery is called the 'De Dolle Browers' which means the happy brewers. The beer bottles all sport little bows on the neck. And the beer is brewed since 1980. Oerbier has a 7.5% and is brewed from 6 malts.
We tried this beer a while ago, and the design of the label intrigued me. The artwork on the labels copies a prehistoric wall painting found in Spain. It is assumed that the painting dates back to 30,000BC and thus the best and amongst the oldest prehistoric art works.
No recipe.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Beer Bar in Brussels - L'Ultime Atome

The L'Ultime Atome, or the Last Atom. Both beer bar and restaurant where I just love to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Belgian Beer no.31: Saint Idesbald, the mystery

Sometimes it is almost close to impossible to locate the beers I am looking for. Brewers, producers are all mixed, so that you start with a name, then realize the beer is actually known under a different name, then you come across an abbey which leads you to another producer and … finally you get to find the beer.
I embarked on this virtual journey for the Saint Idesbald Brune. As it was served in the L’Ultime Atome without me actually seeing the bottle – I had to spent some time locating it.
The beer is brewed by the Abbey of Saint Idesbald, but if this abbey actually exists or not … no idea! I know the beer figures now among the beers of Delirium. Besides the ones we tried, the Brune (8%), there is also the Blonde (6.2%), and the Triple (9%).
I am planning for a while now to visit the Delirium brewery as they have one of my all time favorite beers, the Floris Miel, so I might come back on these beers once I know more.
No recipe.

Belgian Beer no.30: Rodenbach, with passion

The Rodenbach family is traced back to 1714, when the first member of the family can be placed. In recent times the brewery was sold to Palm Breweries, however the tradition of the Rodenbach beer continues.
A beer brewed with passion, it is now been portrayed by very ‘spicy’ commercials depicting Saint Sebastian, Jeanne d’Arc, Jean Baptiste. Their website shows more details on these stories of love and passion, and of course Rodenbach.
Besides the true original, the brewery is now producing the Rodenbach Grand Cru (6%).
No recipe.

Belgian Beer no.29: Brugge Trippel, the heart of Bruges

Beer was already brewed in 1455 where the current location of De Gouden Boom brewery is. The location of the brewery is also linked to its history and the beers it produces: in the heart of Brugge, the Brugge beer.
Despite having been taken over by Palm Breweries the brewery continues to brew traditional Bruges beers: the Brugge Trippel (8.2%), the Brugge Blond (6.5%), and the two Steenbrugge abbey beers: the Dubbel (6.5%) and the Trippel (8.5%).

No recipe.

Belgian Beer no.28: Vedett, the star

Vedett, as the names says it’s a star. At the moment I am seeing Vedett everywhere I look. The advertising campaign was based on interaction: beer lovers were asked to send pictures of themselves to become Vedett ‘stars’ – with the picture printed on the back of the bottle. Interesting idea.
Vedett is produced by Duvel, and has a 5.2% alcohol (quite week for a Belgian beer, if you ask me).
No recipe.

Belgian Beer no.27: Ramee

Another beer tried and tested on my quest for a complete Belgian overview, was the Ramee. Brewed using traditional methods, based on a unique recipe from Brabant Hasbaye, this beer comes from the Abbey of La Rameé.
It is a non filtered beer, which has a slight peppery flavor. Besides beer, the abbey also produces cheese which I will have to try out very soon as well.
No recipe.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Belgian Beer no.26: Grimbergen, the resurrecting Phoenix

The Abbey of Grimbergen dates back to 1128, when St. Norbert built an abbey devoted to the Norbertine order. Dedicated to hospitality while providing a safe stay, the Norbertines welcomed their visitors with home brewed beers.
Throughout history, the abbey burned down a couple of times. However the Norbertines built it up to its initial glory every time. This constant resurrection is now portrayed by the Phoenix on the Grimbergen bottles.
Over the centuries the recipe was passed on to the next generation. Till today the beer recipe is still a secret, preserved and still cherished.
Grimbergen is currently produced by Alken-Maes. The following beers are available:
Grimbergen Blonde, 6.7%
Grimbergen Dubbel, 6.5%
Grimbergen Tripel, 9%
Grimbergen Optimo Bruno, 10%
Grimbergen Cuvee de L’Ermitage, 7.5%
Crème brulée (serves 4)
175gr cristalized sugar
4 yolks
1tbsp maizena
1 vanilla stick
1 dessert spoon orange zest
1,5dl Grimbergen Double (33cl bottles)
4dl milk
2tbsp almond flakes
Beat the eggs with the 140gr sugar till you get a smooth mixture. Add the maizena, the orange zest, vanilla stick, milk and Grimbergen beer. Gradually heat the mixture and continue stirring till the crème thickens.
Remove from the heat, retrieve the vanilla stick, and divide the crème equally in 4 ramekins. Let it cool, and keep in the fridge for at least 1h.
Just before serving sprinkle the rest of sugar on top of the crème, and place it under the grill until the sugar is caramelized. Sprinkle with almond flakes.
(recipe from the Grimbergen website)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Belgian Beer no.25: De Verboden Vrucht, as in forbidden fruit

With such a name, difficult to resist : The Forbidden Fruit. A beer with a dark ruby like colour, intense aroma of spices, and high fermentation. Part of the Hoegaarden group, it is brewed at the Brewery De Kluis.
The beer label portrays Adam and Eve as painted by Rubens. Therefore the beer was banned from the USA, being considered as too ‘shocking’. Hmm…should have taken a better picture of the label then.
No recipe.

Belgian Beer no.24: Kasteelbier, the noble beer

The next beer we tried (as you can I am busy on the Belgian quest of going through all the beers), was a Kasteelbier, which means the castle beer. Brewed at the Honsebrouck Brewery since the 1900, the setting is literally a castle. Which I really hope to get the chance to visit this weekend. This is part B of the beer plan: to start visiting the breweries around as well.

The castle-fortress dates back to 1075, and it changed hands throughout the centuries, from the Duke of Bourgogne, to the Montblanc, being bought in 1986 by the current family, the Honsebroucks.

Several beers are brewed by them, among them the aforementioned Kasteelbier – the blond and the dark one. The Brigand, the St-Louis, as well as three specialities are also brewed here: the Vlaamsch Wit (the white Flemish), the K-8 and the Bacchus. And recently the brewery started producing the well-known Belgian Kriek (cherry) beer as well.

I particularly liked the blond Kasteelbier, although at 11% alcohol, moderation is asked for.

Pork fillet in flaky pastry with brown Kasteelbier sauce (serves 4)

4 lbs pork fillet
1,5 lbs flaky pastry
1 lb butter
0,5 lb shallots
5 eggs
2 bottles Kasteelbier (33 cl each)
50 cl stock
1 sprig marjoram
1 sprig lemon thyme
5 thick slices of bacon (0,25" each)
1 lb cultivated mushrooms
5 cloves of garlic
2 lbs potatoes
1 bunch parsley
5 tablespoons walnut oil
2 bunches watercress
1 large green cabbage
2 lbs large oyster mushrooms

Clean the oyster mushrooms and chop half of them into small pieces. Fry the chopped mushrooms in butter with the sliced shallots, season generously with salt and pepper and leave to cool. Make a slit down the length of each fillet and open. Stuff the fillets with the mushroom mixture. Fasten tightly with toothpicks. Fry in butter, season with salt and pepper and remove from the pan. Leave aside to cool. The sauce will be prepared in the same pan. Roll out the pastry and wrap it around the fillets, coat with egg yolk and cook in a preheated oven at 350°F for 20 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the brown Kasteelbier and stock. Add some marjoram and lemon thyme. Cook until the sauce has reduced by a third, sieve and add a knob of butter.

To prepare the Flemish style potato puree : fry the bacon in a little butter with sliced shallots and cultivated mushrooms, season with pepper, add two crushed cloves of garlic. Cook the floury potatoes and then strain away half the water, mix the mushrooms and bacon with the potatoes and the finely chopped parsley. Fry the whole oyster mushrooms in walnut oil as a garnish. Line a ring mould with blanched green cabbage and fill with the puree. Close carefully and place the puree in the middle of the dish, top with sauce, surround with the oyster mushrooms and sliced pork fillets. Garnish with watercress sprigs.
(recipe from the Kasteelbier website)

Belgian Beer no.23: Westmalle, the second of the six chosen ones

For more than 200 years the monks of Westmalle have dedicated their gift and skills to brewing beer – the Westmalle. On the 10th December 1836 the first beer was served, and since then Westmalle has secured its place among the 6 trappist beers of Belgium. As mentioned before the 6 trappist beers are: Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren and Westmalle.

The information on the website with regards to the difference between an abbey and a trappist beer reads: a trappist beer gets only then the name when it fulfils 3 set criteria. It has to be brewed only by the monks within the walls of a trappist abbey. The brewery has to be linked to the monastery and be part of a culture that fits with monastic life. The brewery can not serve profit making purposes, and the income from the beers has to help the monks and the monastery to exist. Any remaining money is to be donated to charity, social projects or people in need.

Three beers are brewed in Westmalle: the double, the triple and the extra Westmalle.

No recipe (to follow).