This April we are focusing our attention on all the amazing Belgian-style beers in our portfolio. Our Curator of Curriculum says it best “There’s no category of beer more complex, more complicated and yet also more rewarding than the universe of Belgian-style beers”. Months ago we decided to showcase this amazing portfolio of Belgian style brews in a way to help you understand them better, find some new ones to try, and have an opportunity to join us out and about to chat with our team. Below find our portfolio book of some of the current offerings. Flip through and find a few gems to sample for yourself available at retailers across the Green Mountains. Next see a great article from Serious Eats on “A Beginner’s Guide to Belgian Beer Styles” . Under that find a calendar of activity for an opportunity to join us in conversation over a tulip glass. Last you will find a recent article written by our own Jeff Baker in the Burlington Free Press titled “Belgian-style beers: Complex rewards”
Thank you for taking interest in these great styles and good luck in your finding some new favorites – Ryan Chaffin / Jeff Baker
Belgian Style Beer Book
A Beginner’s Guide to Belgian Beer Styles (as seen on www.seriouseats.com)
Full article can be seen here http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2014/03/guide-to-belgian-beer-styles-what-is-dubbel-quad-saison-wit-lambic-gueuze.html
Few Opportunities To Join Us Out & About
Water Works – Victory Golden Monkey Tuesdays and Fridays.
VT Tap House Williston, Smuttynose Tap Attack Tuesday April 19th.
Richmond Beverage Tasting with Global Beer 4-6 Friday April 22.
Barnyard Drop In Tap Takeover (6 lines) Tuesday April 26.
4/20 “Sour Power” at Waterworks – featuring a tap-takeover of Petrus sour ales at 4:20!
Belgian Beer tasting – possibly at Sweet Clover Market 4/21 4-6
Global Beer Tasting at Shelburne Market featuring Gulden Draak, Piraat and the brand new Kasteel Barista Chocolate Quad 4/22 4pm-6pm
4/27 “King’s Day” featuring La Trappe Trappist Brewery who brew Belgian-style beers in the Netherlands. Four locations: The Archives (Burlington), Doc Ponds (Stowe), Craft Beer Cellar (Waterbury) + 1 more retail TBA
4/29 Brewery Ommegang Tap-takeover at Worthy Kitchen (Woodstock). Time and line-up TBD
*Keep your eye for more here and on social media
Belgian-style beers: Complex rewards
As seen in the Burlington Free Press http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/life/2016/03/31/belgian-style-beer-tutorial/82335172/
There’s no category of beer more complex, more complicated and yet also more rewarding than the universe of Belgian-style beers.
In an effort to help demystify this category I thought we could walk through the abbey-style ales, a subset of beers that sprang from the monastic brewing tradition of Belgium.
Europe has a long brewing tradition and it is tied closely with the history of Christian abbeys. Monks worked hard to brew refreshing and nourishing brews for themselves and to sell to lay-persons in an effort to raise funds for their monastic missions. Some of the monastic breweries eventually fell fallow, the brands and recipes were sold off to secular companies. Other abbeys continued to brew their own beer, and still do to this day.
As a side note, the Trappists are subset of the abbey brewing tradition and are unique in that they must be a member of the International Trappist Association. The ITA ensures that the monasteries produce products that benefit the mission of the Cistercian Order and are regulated by a strict code of quality.
Abbey ales were once categorized by the beer’s final alcohol strength. Stronger brews required more ingredients and therefore were most expensive to produce. The stronger beers were reserved for visiting dignitaries or for the leaders of the abbey. There are many stories regarding how these beers gain their style names, but the most logical seems to be this: regular strength beers were marked with one X, double-strong beer casks were marked with XX, and so on. This led to “Single,” “Dubbel,” “Tripel” and “Quadrupel.”
Single – Also known as abbey blonde ale or Patersbier (“father’s beer”), these beers are pale in color and are between 4.5 percent and 6 percent. Singles were usually brewed for the monks to consume on-site at the monastery as table beers. Unfortunately, few commercial examples are available in the U.S. market. This might be because Belgian blonde ales are an unpopular style at the moment or because the low alcohol content keeps these beers from traveling well. In Vermont look for Four Quarters (Winooski) “Opus Dei,” which is draught-only, or Witkap Pater (Belgium) “Stimulo,” which should be on shelves in better bottle shops.
Dubbel – I typically equate abbey dubbels with the brown ales of other cultural brewing traditions. Medium-dark in color and of moderately strong alcohol by volume, 6 percent-7.5 percent, this style is incredibly food friendly. Dubbels are brewed with dark malts and dark “candi” sugar, which is also know as invert sugar. Adding sugar helps to raise the alcohol level, making a more stable product, without adding extra body to the brew. Expect notes of dark caramel, fruity yeast esters, and an earthy dry finish. The best examples available in Vermont are Rochefort (Belgium) “6,” Westmalle (Belgium) “Dubbel” and Ommegang (New York) “Abbey Ale.”
Tripel – This style was invented by the Trappist monastery of Westmalle in 1934. Pale in color and traditionally ranging from 7.5 percent -9.5 percent alcohol by volume, this beer is great for drinking fresh or for cellaring. As a side note, every other abbey style is pale and the others are dark in color: Single and tripel are pale, while dubbel and quadrupel are dark. Tripels are brewed using pale candi sugar, and exhibit subtle fruity notes, spicy yeast phenolics, and a sweet-then-dry mouthfeel. Maredsous (Belgium) “Tripel,” Bosteels (Belgium) “Tripel Karmeliet” and Victory (Pennsylvania) “Golden Monkey” are all available in some Vermont beer stores.
Quadrupel – These Belgian dark ales range in alcohol from 8 percent to 12 percent. Brewed with dark candi sugar and tons of dark malts, Quads offer flavors of dried figs, raisins, orange peel, toasted nuts, milk chocolate, and a flavor I can only describe as “wooly” — earthy and dry. The best Quads can age for a decade or more under proper cellar conditions. Look for Ommegang (New York) Three Philosophers which is at its best when aged for around three years, in the opinion of this writer. Also available in Vermont are La Trappe (Netherlands) “Quadrupel” and Van Steenberge (Belgium) “Gulden Draak 9000 Quad” (which is different than the standard “Gulden Draak”).
Got a favorite abbey ale? Let me know on Twitter at @aPhilosophyOf.
Jeff S. Baker II is the Curator of the Curriculum for Farrell Distributing.