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De Heeren van Lidekerke

The first full day we had in Brussels, we got up extra venture outside of the city to the gastroclub that had many rare beers from Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen made especially for them: De Heeren van Lidekerke. We took a metro to the Midi station and then a train out of town to Lidekerke. We walked through town, in the snow, just past the main large parking lot and we were very happy to find De Heeren, a fantastic craft beer and high end restaurant open. They even had an English menu!

First things first: 1 bottle of Cantillon Crianza Helena 2008 made especially for this restaurant and only 17.50 Euros for a 750ml bottle. It pours a crisp yellow amber. It smells like sour funk with a touch of oak and slightly sweet. It tastes like pucker sour, then barnyard funk, and a crisp tart punch in your face at the back of your tongue and throat finish. I even met the 3 year old girl in which this beer was named after.

We ordered shrimp croquettes and a salad with a gueze sauce (10 Euro) to start and I got a homemade Jeruselum artichoke soup with gueze and scallops ( I skipped the ham croutons). Dave had the monthly special: wild boar, venison, apples with marzipan and foie gras toast for 21 Euros.

They even gave us each a free appetizer of fish with rice and fennel!

Next we ordered: 3 Fonteinen Hommage 2007 6% abv 750ml for 16 Euros. This pours a cloudy red sienna. It smells like funky sour, slightly sweet berries and oak. It tastes way more sour than sweet. It is not really sweet at all. It tastes like sour crushed raspberries, tart oak and stingy wood. Nice. Not fake raspberry tasting…

After our meal, we ventured back to Brussels to see where our next adventure might take us….

So, on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, in which most people in Europe celebrate, Dave and I take a train from Utrecht to Brussels arriving around 7pm.  After we find our place that we rented through airbnb, we found that we were starving and very thirsty. Of course Dave immediately wants to try to find Moeder Lambic, which was a bit of a treck for us across the city. Me hoping my husband was right, that it would indeed be open. Much to my dismay, after we walked through the snow and ice, seeing closed restaurant after closed restaurant (it was a freaking holiday afterall), we turned the corner and there it was: shiny brightly open in the night sky.                                                                We knew we had made the right decision.

We walked into a tiny bar with 8 tables and a few chairs at the bar. We sat at a table by the window and the bartender came over immediately (and asked in French) and we ordered (Dave answered in poor Spanish for some reason):

Cantillon-Faro 5% abv. 2.90Euros. This pours a golden dark amber. It smells like funk, slight bread, light oak, and a touch of fruit. It tastes like funky grapes, oak, slightly sweet, then a slight sour punch hits the back of your throat and leaves a semi-sweet flavor on your tongue.

Cantillon- Kriek (cuvee moerder) 5% abv. 3.90 Euro. This pours a beautiful cherry red. It smells like real tart cherry pie and sour funk. It tastes like sour barnyard, funk, oak and  leaves a lingering fresh tart cherry flavor on your tongue. Delicious!

Then we both ordered the Cantillon- Lambic Bio 5% abv for 3.30 Euros. This pours a semi cloudy brown amber with a thick foamy head. It smells like barnyard funk, oak and sour! It tastes like sour oak, then more wood, more funk sour, a bit fruity and ends a bit acidic. Pretty tasty wood.

We ordered some fromage as well:
Cru Des Fagnes and the Palet du vieux moulin-each about 100grams for  7.20 Euros but it comes with bread and malt grains (interesting). The cru was a bit more flavorful and stinky; I highly recommend it.

Then to top off the evening, we ordered a 2004 Fonteinen Oude Gueze vintage for 10 Euros. You could smells the sour funky Brett as soon as the bottle popped. Mmmm sour 6 year aged Gueze! It poured a golden honey amber. It smells like a ton of sour oak. I could just sit here and smell it all day. Beautiful. It tastes like sour, oak barrels, lemon puker, more oak, more sour and with a nice woody oak finish. Did I mention that it tasted like sour oak barrels???

Not a bad way to start our trip in Brussels….

Being a vegetarian, it is always hard to go to beer pairing dinners. I can not justify spending $80 and up for a great beer dinner, but not being able to eat half of it or having my ‘vegetarian’ option be some sort of pasta. That just doesn’t cut it for me. It is hard to understand living in San Francisco where vegetarian beer connoisseurs get the short end of the stick the majority of the time.

The last time I spoke with Eric and Neil from Mission Gastroclub, we talked about my frustrations and joining forces to offer a vegetarian craft beer dinner for the Women who like Beer meetup group. Even though on their website  it states: We are omnivores: the menu will rarely be vegetarian/vegan friendly. Emphasis is placed on in-season and sustainably produced foods whenever possible. I appreciate their willingness to venture out into vegetarian territory…even though they did have a pig breakdown on Saturday (in which my husband was a happy participant).

The menu was a 4 course meal paired with 2 of Eric’s homebrews and 2 were commercial craft beers.

1st Course: Maldon faltbread, red beets and olivade pairied with Eric’s Belgian Single. This beer is 4.7% abv, 32 IBU’s and is done as a second runnings beer (partigyle) from when Eric brewed a triple IPA. The sweetness from the beets, accompanied by the creaminess of the olivade and the crunchiness/saltiness of the flatbread worked well with the light, hoppiness of the Belgian Single.

2nd Course: Vaquero heirloom beans, cold smoked cauliflower, crispy garbanzos paired with Drake’s Rey Eye Ale (6.5% abv). The starchiness of the beans, crispiness of the lightly fried chickpeas and the chilled smokiness of the cauliflower helped to compliment the hoppy and caramel balance from the Red Eye Ale.

3rd Course: Braised leeks, king oyster mushrooms, barley, beer blanc served with Anchor’s Bock (5.5% abv). The beer blanc really helped to pull this dish together. The butteriness and the nuttiness of the barley, the umaminess of the flash fried mushrooms and the semi-sweet and savory beer blanc helped to compliment the flavors of the Bock: sweetness, caramel, cereal, stewed fruit and  touch of hops.

4th Course: Beer poached Asian pears, macaroons paired with Eric’s Tripel (8.9% abv, 25 IBU’s). The caramel, slight funk, cereal and carmelized banana flavors out of Eric’s Tripel really emphasized the slightly sweet caramel of the poached pears and the nuttiness of the coconut.

I always ask the ladies to write their top 3 favorite beers and favorite pairings at each event…and the results are in:

Favorite Beer: 1-Eric’s Triple 2- Drake’s Red Eye 3-Eric’s Belgian Single

The top 3 favorite pairings were:
1- Beer poached Asian pears, Macaroons with Eric’s Tripel
2- Braised leeks, oyster mushrooms, barley, beer blanc with Anchor’s Bock
3-Vaquero beans, smoked cauliflower, crispy garbanzos and Drake’s Red Eye

Kass said: This was a very enjoyable event. A special treat to sample the interesting and tasty small dishes and beers presented by the guys at Gastroclub. Kudos for lining up a vegetarian pairing. Tiila, you do a good job organizing events like this. Thanks to all!

Rebecca said: Loved everything about this meetup – great food, great beers (including a really awesome home brewed triple from our hosts)! Thanks Tiila for another great event.

Thanks again Eric and Neil! You guys rock…

Olivier in Utrecht, Holland

So, for those of you who don’t know, Dave and I went to Europe for the holidays. We stayed in Holland for Christmas and then made our way down to Brussels for a beer pilgrimage (our first time there!). So the next few posts will be from our excursions and random finds along the way….

The first place we went for a beer was Olivier in Utrecht. It’s not a beer bar per se; it used to be an old church actually. There are remnants on the walls…pretty awesome. But what I love about some places in Europe is that even if they aren’t necessarily a beer bar, you will find some fantastic beers.

We tried:

Boone Kriek- this pours a beautiful ruby red. It smells like cherry syrup, butterscotch (a little diacetyl?) and Brett. It tastes like cherry syrup, sour lemons but a good balance of sour. It’s not too crazy puker sour. 4.5% abv

Boone Gueuze- this pours a cloudy light amber hue. It smells like oak, Brett and sour lemons. It tastes like oak, wood, sour, tart lemons and funk. Some nice funki-sourness going on in there. Much better than the kriek. 6.5% abv.

The holidays are all about sharing, so why not get some friends together and share some tasty, rare beer? Why not have a vertical of 07, 08, 09 and 10 of Port Brewing’s Older Viscosity? Perhaps add an Old Viscocity, Sexual Chocolate, Popskull and an 09 Weyerbacher Riserva? It is the holidays after all…

Port brewing- Older Viscocity-12% abv
2007-This smells like roasted figs, chestnuts, oak, vanilla and bourbon. It tastes like it has a little oxidation, a bit lighter than others. A hint past it’s prime.

2008-This has less nose but tastes like roasted malt, espresso, vanilla, oak, alcohol and a bit of cherry coke. Vanilla, rich chocolate, oak and whiskey tones, some hops for bitterness, sweet chocolate and roasty malt notes and just the right amount of warmth. Mmm my favorite of the 4.

2009- This smells like raisins, vanilla and dried figs. This tastes more raisin brand-y then the rest. Almost raisin brand toast, vanilla and light bourbon. Super creamy and thick dark malts with a nice strong coffee and chocolate flavor up front but after it goes down your throat with oak and bourbon with a nice sting of alcohol on the tongue.

2010-This one has the only subtle difference in color- it is a bit more red. It smells like vanilla, raisins and figs.It tastes like malt, chocolate, wood and coffee. It has a very pleasant roasted flavor. Lighter than the rest, but quite tasty.

Port Brewing’s Old Viscocity- This is a bit more dried stewed fruit, more plum and raisins. More cola. Hard to compare after you just had a vertical of the above.

Foothills Brewing Co’s Sexual Chocolate- 9.75% abv-This pours a semi-dark dark chocolate. This pours a semi-dark dark chocolate. It tastes like vanilla, smoke, hint of scotch, bourbon, oak, chocolate, malt, charred espresso and vanilla.

Three Floyds Brewing Co’s Popskull- 10% abv. This is a Dogfish Head and 3 Floyds collaboration. This pours a semi-translucent mahogony. It smells like honey, grapes and raisins. It tastes like sweet raisins, molasses and a bit of roasted and caramel malt, along with a bunch of dark fruit.

Weyerbacher- Riserva 2009- 11.4% abv. This pours a beautiful clear rosewood. It smells like raspberry, oak and sour. It tastes like a sweet and tart beer that is full of raspberry flavor. VERY sour raspberries, but this is certainly the beer I’ve always imagined when trying any sour/wild ales. Funky, tart, sweet and musty.

Not a bad evening taste-a-thon! Did I mention that Dave and I are going to Belgium for the holidays?

The Bruery’s Reserve Society. How we love you: your fantastic beer tastings, your rare exceptional beer and your comfy hoodies. Not to mention the occasions where you can buy yet ANOTHER bottle of Black Tuesday.

This time, it was their Barrel Aged Beer event. A $35 ticket bought you 10 tastes of 18 beer offerings plus some food to nosh (Hummus and olives or pork BBQ sandwiches or bacon vignette with chocolate). They had 3 tasting event times to choose from so we went to the 2pm tasting, which was their last tasting of the day. It also happen to end a 1/2 hour before their normal tasting room opened with the leftover draft beer that you could buy more of. Some were already available to the public, so we didn’t touch those- more rare beer! Below is what was available and if we tried it, there are tasting notes next to it. Enjoy!

The beers that were available were:

From their Bottle Bar:

Black Tuesday- 18.2% abv- a barrel aged imperial stout. Mmmm bourbon! Vanilla, chocolate, roasted malt, dark fruits and you guessed it, bourbon.

Pinotlambicus- 8.4%abv-Lambic blended with ales brewed with Pinot Noir grapes. One of my favorites of the day. I am so happy we ordered our allocated 2 bottles. It tasted like sour grapes but slightly sweet sour. It was not too pucker in your face sour, but more delicate and complex. A very lovely beer.

Barrel Fermented Autumn Maple- 10% abv-Autumn Maple, 100% Barrel fermented.

Gunga Galunga- 7.7% abv-Provisions Series: Black beer w/Galanga, Kaffir lime leaves and 100% Brett fermented (not barrel aged).

Premiere- 10.4% abv- 1st Provisions Series beer, bourbon barrel aged and blended Belgian Golden Strong.

Melange # 3- 15.5% abv- Blend of Black Tuesday, White Oak Sap and Anniversary Ale. Dark cocoa some almond/vanilla notes come through. Faint coffee, caramel and toffee. A lot of alcohol!

From their Draft Bar:

Chocolate Rain (Cask)- 18.5% abv- Black Tuesday with Chocolate rain. It smells like alcohol, with a slight Black Forest Cake flavor and a hint of caramel with lots of vanilla.

Cherry Chocolate Rain (Cask)- 18.5% abv- Black Tuesday with cocoa nibs and sour cherries. Everyone said this beer tasted like cherry cough syrup. I didn’t think it tasted like cough syrup, but more like a very fake chocolate cherry with fake cherry flavor.It was lighter than syrup…more like cherry twizzlers…

Melange #1- 9.5%abv- Blend of Black Tuesday with young Oude Tart. This tastes like sweet corn, maple syrup and vanilla. It would be a great breakfast beer or to pair with BBQ and fried green tomatoes. Slightly sour.

Sour in the Rye- 8.7% abv- Sour ale brewed with 40% rye malt. Lots of spices, grapes, wine, oak tannins, citrus, dark fruit and a touch sour.

100% Barrel Aged Coton- 17% abv- Bourbon barrel aged version of their 2nd anniversary Olde Ale. Lots of prune, vanilla, dark chocolate, bourbon, just a lot of sweet and savory tastes together. Touch of sour and alcohol.

Barrel Aged 2 Turtle Doves- 13% abv- Bourbon barrel aged version of 2009 Winter Ale, Belgian Dark Strong and toasted pecans and cocoa nibs. Mmmm Bourbon Christmas surprise – I wish I got this from Santa every year!

Oude Tart with Sour Cherries- 7.5% abv- Flemish Red with sour cherries. Sour tart cherry, oak and sweet malt. Greatly balanced.

Sour Rugbrod with Lingonberries-7.5% abv- Danish Rye Ale, soured and with added lingonberries. Worst of the day! It was sour with a huge vinegar nose, not too lemon, more berries with a slight balsamic tang to it. The sour cones out at the end and on the sides of your tongue, along with the lovely taste of bandaid. It’s so bad, it doesn’t matter what a lingonberry is…

The Workman’s Friend- 8% abv- Provisions Series- Imperial Porter (not barrel aged).

Loakal Red- 6.9% abv- Partically barrel aged in new American oak, dry hopped red ale.

3 French Hens- 10% abv- Belgian dark strong ale partially aged in french oak barrels.

Humulus Session- 4.5% abv- Hoppy, low abv beer (not barrel aged). We tried this after the event was over. Very light but with a huge hoppy flavor: citrus, grapefruit skin, pine, a great session beer.

38 Degrees Ale House and Grill

When one takes a road trip down to the beautiful land of Orange County for a beercation, one must find a decent beer bar with (hopefully) better than beer bar food. Dave is excellent at doing his research and found 38 Degrees Ale house and Grill in Alhambra, Ca.

When you walk in, the place has an immediate grown-up college sports bar vibe, but don’t let that throw you off. They have an amazing tap list with 38 beers on tap (hence the name). Including Stone’s Double Dry Hopped Sublimely Self Righteous 8.7% abv for $7 (and I thought their regular Self Righteous was amazing- holy crap- this is even more freaking hoppy with aromas that sing to your nose while you take a sip) and De Proef & Terrapin Monstre Rouge 8.5% abv for $8. (really interesting btw, with a HUGE oak flavor with caramel and sour notes).

It doesn’t stop there- they also have flights of beer: American Hoppy Ales which includes a side by side tasting of Russian River Blind Pig, Russian River IPA, Marin Ibdian Summer and Hanger 24 IPA all for $8. They also have an Imperial Hoppy Ales flight which includes: Hanger 24 Pro-Am, Avery Dungana, Stone’s Dry Double Hopped Sublimely Self Righteous and Stone’s Double Bastard 2010 for $9. They have Old Rasputin XII on draft, Maui Coconut Porter on draft (which I have never seen), and Russian River IPA(which I have also never seen on draft outside the brewery).

The food is a combination of fried bar/typical beer food with nontypical fried beer food and some semi up-to-par decent food for dinner. I ordered the Hawaiian Oni with a pomegranate reduction that was served over braised turnips and wilted greens for $18. Dave ordered the pulled BBQ beef shortrib sandwich for $11 and a side of sweet potato fries for $5. We also split an order of crisp Thai calamari which was served with a semi sweet sort of duck sauce with plum for $7. There seems to be a slight oriental influence on some of the food.

The food was a little too not so perfect for what it is trying to be; the fish was way too dry and overcooked but the turnips and greens were  pretty tasty. I just think it is trying to be a step above a beer bar, but the food isn’t quite there yet- for the price. The service was excellent; our waiter was very eager and attentive. But the overall atmosphere just kills it for me. There are tv’s everywhere you look , god awful Z-100 style bad mainstream music, and really, REALLY bad coffee house artwork, it just does not fit with the atmsophere of their amazing beer offerings and trying-to-be-better-than-pub-food cuisine … It seems like this place is trying, and there is something to be said for that and it is packed, so it is doing something right. I think it is just catering to it’s local clientele.

So overall, don’t do for the atmosphere, the food is not quite there but it’s trying, BUT go for a fantastic beer tap and bottle list- not to be missed.

1 week until the beer and chocolate pairing!

Next Thursday, Dec 9th, we are hosting a craft beer and chocolate pairing in collaboration with Socola Chocolatier. They are a local sister run gourmet truffle company.

It starts at 7:30. The cost is $30. The chocolate will also be available for purchase at the event…

Please click the link below to find out more information and to sign up:

Mmmm Cantillon Blåbær. One of the hardest beers to get your paws on. I was honored when Brian Yaeger asked Dave and I to come to his Blueberry Pairing dinner in which we would each make a blueberry dish and pair them with a box of aged Blåbær that he received from a trade overseas. We were accompanied by Eric Cripe from the Jugshop and his wonderful lady, Katie; Steve and Gail Williams from Beer by Bart and of course, Brian’s lovely bride, Kimberly.

What was on that menu you may ask? Katie made a brie with home made blueberry compote to start. For dinner, Gail and Steve made a wonderful sweet and savory blueberry lasagna, Eric made duck confit with a blueberry beer and duck fat sauce and I made grilled salmon and chicken with a blueberry jalapeno reduction. For dessert, Brian made a no crust blueberry buckle.  What is a buckle? According to the recipe, a buckle is an old-fashioned, single-layer cake with a streusel-type topping. The batter is quite dense. As the cake bakes, the batter sinks to the bottom of the pan, which makes the streusel buckle on top. In other words, a coffee cake. Not too shaby if you ask me.

As far as the beer goes, we poured the 2005, then the 2007 followed up by the 2009 Blåbær:

The 2005 Cantillon Blåbær poured a clear, golden orange amber. It looked like beautiful sparkling resin. It smelled like slightly sweet grapes, touch of berry, touch of cereal and horseblanket funky sour. It tasted incredibly sour, pucker lemon, funky-cole-madina, lots of oak with a touch, and I mean a touch of berry. It was good. I was aching for a bit more fruit; but don’t get me wrong, Cantillon has an amazing capacity to create incredible back-of-your-throat sour puckers, which a lot of people love and crave. And it was good; I just wanted a bit more complexity and fruit flavor like in some of their other beers like their Lou Pepe Kriek.

The 2007 Cantillon Blåbær Batch II poured the most beautiful color I have ever seen in a beer. I wanted to just stare at it all night long. It was this incredibly sparkling, brilliant ruby red with a touch of aubergine. Absolutely gorgeous. It smelled like a bucket of tart blueberries. It tasted like tart cranberries, tart blueberries, oak and back of your throat pucker sour. This had the complexity I was looking for. The beer starts tart to sour and then metamorphose into ripe and tart blueberries with the oak rounding out the transition. Beautiful. Elegant.

The 2009 Cantillon Blåbær was the weakest link of the evening. It poured a cloudy, murky mahogany. It smelled like mulled cider mixed with berry pie. It tasted a little apple cider-y, with hint of cinnamon, sour green apple and cranberry. Was there a touch of bandaid as well? Hopefully, this was just an off bottle. It was not much to my liking, but I didn’t want to pour out this rare beer. It actually helped when it was paired with the blueberry buckle. The spices in the beer helped to bring out the crumb topping in the buckle.

How can one top a Blåbær vertical? Well, you probably can’t but next we had Dark Horse Brewing Company Tres Blueberry Stout. This beer poured a deep, dark chocolate. It smelled like blueberry pie and roasted malt. It tasted like sweet blueberries, melted dark chocolate and roasted malt. Blueberry maple syrup malt- tasty.

Last, but not least: Lost Abby’s 07 Veritas Ale. This poured an orange, murky teak. It smelled like funk, with traces of cheese notes, slightly sweet berry and Brett with a touch of leather. It tasted like sour funk, berries, grape skins, oak and a very tart ending with lots of funk.

Overall, it was a fantastic evening shared with lovely people. Brian and Kim: we will miss you here in San Francisco but look forward to our visits in Beervana; over a beer of course!

The 3 most expensive beers in the world

This is for all of you beer geeks out there, trading on BA, standing in line forever for some barrel aged beer and having bottle shares.

Have any of  you ever had this beer???:

1-Vielle Bon Secours:

This tops the list of the world’s most expensive beer, costing around £500 (equivalent to around $1,000) per bottle or about £39 (equivalent to around $78) per pint. It can only be found in a bar called the Bierdrome in London.

Upon doing research, I found this website called: Maybe You Shouldn’t Buy That – A collection of the most expensive and most worthless items in the world.

I quote the writer: What makes the beer so pricey? Distinctive aroma and flavors. And presumably a rare type of drunkenness that somehow makes you more attractive to hot women as opposed to more willing to settle for a gal of huskier carriage.

2- Next up is Samuel Adams, Utopias, 27% abv,  which isn’t that rare, it’s just expensive from about $170-$225 depending on where you found it . We have had it a few times (1 more bottle being in our beer cellar). It is very delicious and I have to say, it’s pricey but worth the price.

We served it at our meetup tasting:

Strong Ales, barleywines and Samuel Adams’ Utopias.

And last but not least:

3-Tutankhamen Brew: The recipe of this brew is prepared according to the recipe and brewing method discovered by a team of University of Cambridge archaeologists/Egyptologists in the Queen Nefertiti’s Temple of the Sun in Egypt. The brewery found in the corner of the said temple is believed to have been built by King Akhenaton who is King Tutankhamen’s father. This is also the place where King Akhenaton queen, Nefertiti worshiped.

The archaeologists sought expert advice from Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, Edinburgh and the beer is brewed in the Cambridge laboratory, costing around $52 per bottle. The production is also limited and the edition is also numbered.

Sounds like something Dogfish Head would be making. Anyone ever tried this one??

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