BeerCast #5 – Belgian Waffle

Posted by on Oct 5, 2007 in BeerCasts, Belgian Beer | No Comments

After four consecutive British-based podcasts, the BeerCast blasts over the constrains of the channel and into Europe. Arguably the finest brewing nation in the world (certainly per capita of population), Belgium is a beer-lover’s dream. As such, it was a natural choice to be the first pit-stop on the global beer circuit. This episode, our podcast studio is swelled by the presence of Andy and Jess (this time not via wires and cables, actually in person), having just come back from an adventure in Brussels. We try two fruity beers, and then two dark trappist ales – with varying results. Join us next time for more Belgian escapades with another podcast debutant. Until then, on with the show…

1. Timmerman’s Peche Lambic (4%abv)
Timmerman’s Brewery, Itterbeek.
330ml glass bottle

Timmermans have been brewing traditional lambic ales in the town of Itterbeek for over 150yrs, since 1781. They are now owned by the congolmerate Anthony Martin, but still produce old fashioned ales. A Lambic is a distinctive Belgian style of beer where instead of the usual introduced brewer’s yeast, the beer is left to ferment naturally over summer in giant open-air vats, exposed to wild airborne yeast. This gives the beer a distinctive dry, cidery, sour taste. All Lambic beers are produced in the Senne Valley, within 15km of the Belgian capital. Scientific tests have identified 86 different micro-organisms in a single beer. However, many of the key yeasts are understood to reside in the timber fermenting vessels rather than waft in on the breeze.

What They Say“Timmermans Peche is a sweetened Lambic with added peach juice (14%). Only the juice is used, as the stone of the fruit is too bitter and would change the taste significantly. For best results, this beer should be drunk from a champagne tulip flute.” [Timmerman’s Official website]

What We Say
Andy – If I watched cricket, which I don’t, I would watch it whilst drinking this 8
Shovels – Sweet and it doesn’t really taste like a proper beer 5
Jess – I wouldn’t stick to this all night, it’s too much 4
Richard – All I can taste are peaches and sugar 4

2. Liefman’s Kriekbier (6%abv)
Liefman’s Brewery, Oudenaarde.
330ml glass bottle

Known as the ‘Pearl of the Flemish Ardennes’, Oudenaarde is a town in northwest Belgium. Liefman’s are one of the area’s many breweries, and at over 300yrs old, have a long history. They produce a range of fruit and wheat beers, but are perhaps most famed for their paper-wrapped kriekbier – a traditional Belgian beer fermented with Morello cherries. Made once a year in July when the cherry harvest takes place, they are dumped into casks of a year-old sour brown ale called Goudenbrand (similar to a lambic), and left to ferment for as long as six months. The resulting brew is bottled, wrapped, and shipped around the world. An acquired taste, it packs a real sweet and sour punch.

What They Say“Kriekbier is quite sharp on the nose, with obvious cherries, some banana. In the mouth it is rather winey, with sour cherries and touches of bubblegum. The tart fruit is very mouth puckering, and is quite lively on the back of the throat.” [The Oxford Bottled Beer Database].

What We Say
Richard – At least this is a bit nicer than the peach 5
Shovels – I’m no fan of sweet beer, and I don’t like cherries 3
Jess – I can’t drink it without my face screwing up 2
Andy – This one smells like a farm, and lingers everywhere 2

3. Chimay Rouge (7%abv)
Chimay Trappist Brewery, Chimay.
330ml glass bottle

‘Bieres de Chimay’ are located inside the abbey Notre-Dame de Scourmont, in the Wallonian municipality of Chimay, Southern Belgium. Since 1862 the Cistercian trappist monks have developed beer, which is still brewed on site. According to their website – “The monks carry out their work with the same concern for perfection that they strive for in their life of prayer and study, so over the course of time brewing has become a true art.” Chimay produce four beers – Rouge, Bleue, Blanche, and Doree. The latter is only drunk at the abbey, and is the monk’s own tipple. It’s so secret, no mention of it appears on their official website. Very, very rarely a bottle is spirited out and finds it way for sale – but not for us, as we made do with the Rouge.

What They Say“Topped with a creamy head, Chimay Rouge gives off a light fruity apricot aroma. It’s taste, which imparts a silky sensation to the toungue, is made refreshing by a light touch of bitterness. To the palate, the taster perceives a pleasant astringency which complements the flavour qualities of this beer very harmoniously.” [Chimay Brewery]

What We Say
Richard – This is such a nice beer, I like it a lot 8
Jess – Sour without sweet works, I would drink this 7
Shovels – Good bouquet, caramelly at the top of the mouth 6
Andy – Too bitter, quite strong, not my thing 3

4. Verboden Vrucht (8.5%abv)
Hoegaarden Brewery, Hoegaarden.
330ml glass bottle

Verboden Vruct – Le Fruit Defendu – Forbidden Fruit – call it what you will (and all three names are on the bottle), it’s a strong dark ale brewed by the massive Brouwerij de Kluis, Hoegaarden – one of the most famous names in world brewing. Founded in 1965 by Belgian milkman Pierre Celis, who, frustrated at the last traditional brewery in Hoegaarden closing, decided to revive the style and set up production in his hay loft. Sadly a fire in 1985 meant the brewery could only continue with aid from the Belgian national giant Interbrew (now InBev). Their increasing input frustrated Mr Celis, and he eventually sold out to them and moved to Texas to start brewing traditional Belgian beer there. InBev are the worlds largest beer producer, with sales in 2006 in 130 countries, worth €13bn.

What They Say“Forbidden Fruit is a complex beer with a mixture of malts and spiced with coriander. It is deep red in colour, rich, sweet, malty, and full bodied.” [InBev website]

What We Say
Jess – I like it, but I have to find out why 8
Richard – If it was half the abv I’d drink it all the time 7
Andy – Smoother and less intrusive than the Chimay 6
Shovels – This one sneaks up on you and goes ‘there I am’ 5

BeerCast panel verdict

Hoegaarden’s Verboden Vrucht – 26/40
Chimay Rouge – 24/40
Timmerman’s Peche Lambic – 21/40
Liefman’s Kriekbier – 12/40

Panellists – (from top left) Richard, Shovels, Jess, Andy



We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with Episode 6. Stay tuned for details…and please leave us comments on the blog or iTunes, or emails. Cheers!

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