BeerCast #6 – Belgian Sauce

Posted by on Oct 26, 2007 in BeerCasts, Belgian Beer | One Comment

For the 6th edition of the BeerCast podcast, we stay in the divided lowlands of Belgium, and sample four more beery delights from Flanders and Wallonia. After the success of Episode 5 we continue on the fruity theme with Brouwerij Huyghe’s famous Früli strawberry beer (4.1%), and discover why a certain East Midlands town has taken it to heart. Then we move on to western Flanders for Rodenbach Grand Cru (6.0%) – a beer the entire panel wholeheartedly agree on – before sampling one of the most discussed ales in the world – Delirium Tremens (8.5%). Finally we pop southwards and try one from Wallonia – Trappistes Rochefort 10° (11.3%), the strongest beer ever tested on the BeerCast. For this episode, Shovels and Richard are joined by podcasting debutant John, another of the panellists lucky enough to have visited the country in question. But will this edition bring back any good memories for him?

1. Früli Strawberry Beer (4.1%abv)
Brouwerij Huyghe, Melle.
250ml glass bottle

Made with 70% white beer and 30% fruit juice (either strawberry or cranberry, depending on the variety), Früli is one of Belgium’s fruit beer success stories. Produced by the Brouwerij Leon Huyghe in the eastern Flanders town of Melle, it is exported all over the world, and the Strawberry Früli won a gold medal at the 2004 International Beer Competition. It has an enthusiastic unofficial fan club, who have developed Früli pub crawls in towns and cities with more than one bar that serve it on tap. Two of these routes can be found in Leicester, the unexplained centre of the British Früli universe.

What They Say“Früli is smooth, well-rounded and packed with natural fruit flavour. It is sweeter than ordinary beers, with just a hint of bitterness and a little citrus zest that balance out the palate.” [] “A strawberry smoothie, with bite.” [Time Out Magazine]

What We Say
Shovels – Doesn’t taste much of beer but it’s really alright 7
John – This reminds me of a spritzer, like a fizzy strawberry wine 7
Richard – Not as bad as many other fruit beers 5

2. Rodenbach Grand Cru (6%abv)
Palm Breweries, Roeselare.
330ml glass bottle

Beer and wine don’t have that much in common – but the ‘red ales of Flanders’ are known as the ‘Burgandies of Belgium’. The most renowned of these is Rodenbach Grand Cru. Made with a complex mixture of 20 different strains of yeasts, and four malts, Grand Cru is possibly an acquired taste – the official website describes it as “a tart beer whose flavour may startle the uninitiated.” Someone very much initiated was the late beer writer Michael Jackson, who named this as one of his favourites in the world. But will our panel be able to handle the tartness of this special ale, or will more work be needed to fully appreciate it?

What They Say“Rodenbach Grand Cru has a gentle sour taste, characterised by a fruity and very refreshing aftertaste. It has a willful character and typical soft sour taste for which it is known and loved.” [official website] “It’s the most refreshing beer in the world.” [Michael Jackson, the BeerHunter]

What We Say
Shovels – Winey and intense, and in no way refreshing 1
John – It tastes like Worcester Sauce! This is terrible 1
Richard – Are we drinking one that’s off? It’s just awful 1

3. Delirium Tremens (8.5%abv)
Brouwerij Huyghe, Melle.
330ml glass bottle

Another offering from the prolific Brouwerij Huyghe is Delirium Tremens, a beer that would win a ‘best dressed’ contest hands down. A fake-ceramic bottle (it’s really painted glass) with a label featuring pink elephants and dancing crocodiles, DT (named after the unpleasant alcohol side-effect) was also a firm favourite of the BeerHunter Michael Jackson. Others too, as it was named best beer in the world in 1998. Formulated on Boxing Day 1989, when a strong pale ale was created at the Melle brewery with three strains of yeast, the abv of 9% caused a few shaking side-effects at first tasting. The euphamism of seeing pink elephants served as a useful logo for the beer, then the brewery as a whole, and now a successful cafe in Brussels (the Delirium Cafe), serving over 2000 ales on the premises.

What They Say“The first sip warms my throat and belly like an old woodstove does a log cabin. It’s lightly hopped and surprisingly malty for such an airy, sunshiny beer. The aftertaste is fruity, almost cherry. This beer must be sipped slowly so you can revel in each sweet drop. DT has a big body, a rich mouthfeel, and a long sweet aftertaste.” [beer writer Stuart Kallen]

What We Say
Richard – Fizzy, it overflows in the mouth when you drink it 5
John – Dry and chalky, it hides the alcohol well – it’s not bad 4
Shovels – Like a strong Hoegaarden, it’s going down too slowly 3

4. Trappistes Rochefort 10° (11.3%abv)
Abbey Notre-Dame de Saint Remy, Rochefort.
330ml glass bottle

“Some find the high alcohol content to be disagreeable” says the official website for the trappist abbey at Rochefort, with typical Belgian understatement. Trappistes Rochefort 10° is the strongest of the three hearty beers produced by the fifteen or so monks who live there – the others being 6° and 8° (at 7.5% and 9.2%abv respectively). Since 1595 the holy men on site have been working to brew great beers – and all with some secrecy, as the site is not open to the public, and all financial gains from sales are put towards the upkeep of the Abbey. Our final Belgian beer on this two-part podcast is the strongest beer yet for our tasters, but will it be a worthy send-off as we move onto pastures new next time?

What They Say“Dark colour, full and very impressive taste. Strong plum, raisin and blackcurrant palate, with ascending notes of vinousness and other complexities. Reddish brown in colour, with a very compact head and an aroma of figs, it feels like honey in the mouth. The alcohol profile is a major component in the flavour of this rich ale.” [official website]

What We Say
John – Like a barley wine on steroids, would be great in winter 7
Richard – All kinds of things going on, and it keeps developing 6
Shovels – Plum and raisin tastes, but it’s a bit overpowering 4

BeerCast panel verdict

Früli Strawberry Beer – 19/30
Trappistes Rochefort 10° – 17/30
Delirium Tremens – 12/30
Rodenbach Grand Cru – 3/30

Panellists – (from top left) Richard, Shovels, John



We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with Episode 7 – German Beer. Stay tuned for details…and please leave us comments on the blog or iTunes, or emails. Cheers!

1 Comment

  1. Rob
    October 26, 2007

    Wow, this is the first ever podcast I’ve listened to… you podcast cherry-pickers you 🙂

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