Beer tasting - Part 1

Three beer tastings in a row. You would think I found my favourite beer. Well...I have found 'a' favourite but now I want to try so many more!

It all started one glorious sunny winter Saturday in Bruges. We made our way through the crowds of tourists to the Finest Brewery Shop Bourgogne de Flandres, where Margot Debisschop from Martin's was waiting for us with four different beers ready to taste. Together with one of Belgium's finest beer sommeliers Sofie Van Rafelghem she guided us with expert knowledge and historic background through four different tastings. And different they were, but all received a good nod of approval and 'ah, I like this one's!
The first discovery was the
Bourgogne de Flandres, a dark beer brewed in an old traditional Lambiek method that tastes at the same time sweet and sharp. 

The Martin's IPA (Indian Pale Ale) is known for its high hop percentage, a breing method that dated from the time the British shipped the beer to their colonies. To keep it good they added more hop. The imported beer tasted even better than the one at home and the Indian Pale Ale was born. When you taste it you feel a wonderful sense of ripe orange fruits (apricots, peach and plums) combined with spicy bitter hops and a hint of white flowers. 
And then we tasted my personal favourite: the Timmermans Blanche Lambicus. I had discoverd this one last year at Sofie's women and beer event and like then this was the beer I really liked. Taste is very personal of course, but the hint of coriander and orange peel make this the perfect aperitif beer for me. When does barbecue season starts? 
The last one we tasted was a Guinness export specially brewed for the Belgian market since 1944. It is a dark stout with a creamy head as we all know Guinness has, but this one has an even more pronounced smoky and malt taste. First time I drank this beer but not the last!

We ended the great tasting afternoon in the new Beer Museum where you can discover all about beers' history and geography during and interesting interactive Ipad walk. One not to be missed when visiting Bruges. 






A week later and one February evening an icy wind blew us into De Koninck city brewery, where Beer and Food Magazine had invited us for a cheese and beer pairing.  


This time only one beer to taste but four cheeses to discover from specialized cheese shop Van Tricht & Son.  The Leffe Ruby is a fresh and crisp abbey beer with a delicate flavour of red fruits. Unlike other fruity beers this one isn't overly sweet.  

Cheese and beer is a match made in heaven but it was interesting to taste four completely different cheeses and how they all interacted differently with the taste of the Leffe Ruby
The Blankaartis a variety of Keiemse witten cow's milk cheese from an organic dairy farm in West-Flanders. It has a soft and lightly sour flavour. 
The Neteling is an awarded Belgian goats cheese in pyramid form and covered in with a thin layer of ash. I love goats cheese so this was definitely my favourite.  
The Wavreumont is a cheese from the South of Belgium, the hilly Ardennes region and has a lightly nutty flavour; Great to pair with beer. 
The last cheese we tried was an Italian blue cheese: Rossini Erbrorinato. Completely different from the other three and strong in flavours that juxtaposed to the freshness of the beer. 

Two years ago specialized cheese shop Van Tricht & son moved their cheese storage to the Antwerp city brewery De Koninch, where the cheese are now aged in perfect conditions. It was such a treat to taste the cheese of Van Tricht & Son and having Mr Van Tricht himself who presented that evening. Van Tricht was nominated best European Speciality Cheese Provider by the Wall Street Journal in 2010, an accolade so well deserved. In this family business all the cheeses are personally aged , a skill that is a family tradition, with knowledge of a lifetime. The cheese is aged in temperature controlled spaces, so that young and mild cheese will get new a flavour, consistency and colour. Aging cheese will give that strong flacour a real cheese lover appreciates, the stinkier the better. We had a look in the rooms where he does the aging of cheeses and saw rows of comtĂ© cheeses from the jura, big wheels of parmezan and pyramides of ash covered goats cheeses.

Tomorrow all about the third beer tasting, a special range of abbey beers! 


Photos Els Debremaeker

Photos Els Debremaeker



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