When it comes to Belgian beers, those made in the country’s abbeys are almost certainly the best known. Ask the average passer-by what they know about Belgian beer, and they’ll probably talk about strong beers made by monks. While many of the abbey beers have been around for years, one has popped up in the recent past – Zundert.
So, this here blog has turned seven. Well done blog, fallow as you are for much of the year due to me being busy and lazy. On Wednesday this week, the actual birthday, I was running a Whisky Lounge Blind Islay Fury whisky tasting, which seems appropriate, but I celebrated with a silly beer on Friday, and now I’m in the pub after running another whisky tasting, it’s time to write about it – a special bottle of Loch Ness Brewery’s Prince of Darkness.
New year, new booze. And how better to start blogging in 2016 than a bottle from the shelves of my local Morrison’s.
In amongst the Chorley cakes – my new favourite thing – and packets of interesting bits of pigs, they have a very good range of drinks. However, there are some weirder things hidden next to the tasty beers, including today’s beverage of choice – Bootlegger Apple Brew.
Beer is an important part of life in Belgium. While its popularity may have fallen in recent years, they still brew 18 million hectolitres per year, about 1% of production in the world. While that may not sound like a huge amount, Belgium isn’t a huge country, with only 11 million inhabitants, and this is about ten times its ‘demographic weight’ – a lot more beer per person than you might expect when comparing them to other countries. They may export 11 million hectolitres, more than 60% of their production, but that still leaves 64 litres of beer each per year, an impressive amount – 2 pints of beer a week for every person in the country, even more than we drink in the UK.
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Belgium is a country thick with beer tradition and history. While that leads to an impression of rows of noble old breweries and ivy-covered abbeys, the situation on the ground is quite different. After the main weekend of the European Beer Bloggers Conference, I went on a tour around West Flanders with the folks from Visit Flanders. We toured five breweries, each very different and showing a different side of modern Belgian brewing. First up De Plukker – The Picker.
I’m in Brussels at the moment for the 2015 instalment of the European Beer Bloggers Conference – #EBBC15. There will be more posts to follow, but the end of the first day (shortly before the original posting of this) saw this year’s live beer blogging session – twelve brewers, each with a beer and five minutes to present it. The bloggers listen, drink and then blog about it. Some are doing it live. I’m not. Here’s my attempt – posted immediately after the session, then proof-read at 3am, then updated with pictures the next day.
Best before dates are a strange thing in the beer world. The law in the UK ensures that brewers put a date on their bottles, but for the most part it’s an entirely made up number that can be happily ignored. However, it seems that BrewDog have jumped on the fresh beer bandwagon and embraced the BBE with a new IPA: Born to Die.
I was sat at The Rake a while ago, interviewing one of the guys who works there about the meaning of ‘craft’ in the beer world. A discussion of his answers is for another time, but one thing he said struck me in relation to today’s post: he wanted craft beer to target ‘the adventurous; the curious; the open-minded.’ I arrived home and opened a bottle that to me epitomises this, the unflashily named Bristol Beer Factory Wheat Wine.
From time to time, when exploring the world of booze, you come across something that should not exist. While most of the time the initial reaction of horror is entirely justified, on rare occasions that first impression is wrong. Being the type of drinker that I am, I delight in both the things-that-should-not-be and the excellent exceptions, and recently I stumbled upon one of the latter. It’s not often that a drink so comprehensively worms it way into my subconcious, but on a recent trip to Bristol, one did – Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose.
BrewDog are at it again. After three scarily successful rounds of crowdfunding, two of which I’ve pitched in to, they’ve decided to go again, with Equity for Punks IV now live. To announce it, they put on an event at their Shepherds Bush bar, with an evening of founders James Watt and Martin Dickie, beer, new product announcements and BrewDog fans cheering ‘Breeeewdooog, Breeeewdoooog’ every time there was a lull. They also had a special beer on tap, made at the pilot plant at their Ellon brewery: BrewDog Pilot Brew 008 – Whiskey Sour.