Years Back - Brussels Breweries


We could talk about beer stores but there are so many of them like this, why bother?

Breweries
On the Grand Place in Brussels, a brand-new brewery has opened called, unimaginatively, The Brewery On The Grand Place.  OK, it's really Les Brasseurs de la Grand Place which sounds classier in English. It opened in 2001 so it's not brand new. Stupidly they claim to be "the only brewery in Brussels".
  • Bruin - I'd swear it's a southern English brown.
  • Cherry - Very very dark red with a pink head. Very very tart of black cherries. Jaw-achingly tart. One of wife Terry's top 10 picks.

The statues above the door really have headaches - but maybe they drank too much last night.

Brussels' most famous brewery is the Brasserie Cantillon who's lambics are readily available in the USA. They have a self-guided tour they call a museum so it's in the guidebooks. Good luck finding the place - that's all I can say since we drove around some streets in the area until we happened on Rue Gheude Straat. That made us arrive pretty late in the day but a very gracious Claude Van Roy let us wander around way after the 5pm "closing" time and stuck around to give us a couple of beers (included in the tour).

The first surprise is that the brewery is right in the city.
One thinks of wild lambic yeast and pristine country woods.
They say city pollution is much better than it was when most houses burned coal.

Mashing tun.
They use 850kg of malt (65%) and 450kg of wheat (35%).

Steam-heated Boiler.
10,000 liters per batch go into two kettles like this.
22kg of German hops are added at this time -
aged hops that have mellowed and lost some bitterness.

Cool Ship - a cooling pan used instead of a water chiller.
This pan holds all 7,500 liters of wort - 2,500 evaporated during boiling.
Wort stays here overnight. In the summer it doesn't cool enough -
one reason they can only brew from October through April.
They used to brew into May but it's too warm now for that.
Jean-Pierre blames global warming.

The Cool Ship is up in the attic and there is plenty of ventilation.
This ventilation is necessary because yeast gets into the wort during this cooling - spontaneous fermentation. Lambic can be made only in a small area
around Brussels because that's where the particular strain of yeast
used to make the sour brown ale of the basic beer lives.
There are 86 strains of wild yeast that combine to ferment the beer.

Casks are filled from the Cool Ship.
Bungs are not inserted for 3 or 4 days while the wort foams with the first violent fermentation.

The base beer will stay in the barrels for a full year.
20% of the liquid evaporates and the yeast forms a crust which protects the fresh beer.

The fermented beer is filtered to remove dead yeast, then sent to . . .

The macerating tank.
Basic brown lambic is rarely sold. It is usually mixed with fruits to make
Kriek (cherries), Framboise (raspberries), Peche (peaches),
Fou'foune (apricots), Faro (candy sugar), Marmalade (plums).
Some 1, 2 and 3-year old brown lambics are mixed to produce Gueuze.

Finally, bottling.

A cork and a crown cap are both used at Cantillon.

After bottling, the fermentation starts again in the bottle and lasts for 5 or 6 months
before labeling and distribution.
Their cellar holds about 11,000 bottles.

Claude Van Roy (nee Cantillon).
Her husband runs the place and their three children work there also.
Her grandfather started the brewery in 1900.

It's almost August so it must be time for OktoBEERfest


It’s time to say “OK… to Oktobeerfest” and make plans now to join over 35 Indiana breweries for the 17th Annual Mad Anthony Brewing Oktobeerfest occurring September 12th at Headwaters Park West. Tickets for Mad Anthony Brewing Company’s 17th Annual Oktobeerfest are available online at etix.com.

MABC’s Oktobeerfest is dedicated to promoting and celebrating locally crafted products from Indiana beers and ciders, to Fort Wayne food and entertainment. At Mad Anthony Brewing Company, we believe that there are a lot of great things going on in our own backyard and want to use this festival as an opportunity to showcase them.

This year marks the second year for our Mad Brewers Challenge, hosted in conjunction with Fort
Wayne’s very own Brewer’s Art Supply. This Challenge allows one homebrewer the chance of
having their beer recipe commercially brewed and served within all MABC brewpubs. The top
ten entries will be served at the festival and voted upon by attendees. Join MABC in making a
homebrewers dream come true. Full contest details are available online at madbrew.com.

Another delicious festival attribute is the Oktobeerfest Food Truck Alley, established to showcase
Fort Wayne’s growing food truck culture.

Make plans to attend Oktobeerfest and enjoy all the flavors our amazing state has to offer.

For more information on Oktobeerfest and all its events visit www.madbrew.com or facebook.com/MadAnthonyBrewing.

Thanks to Cindy for the prodding.

Years Back - Berliner Bierfestival

August 7th - 9th is coming up quick. You'll need to get your plane tickets right now. But it's worth it to stroll for days along the world's best beer festival - period.

Along one side of the wide, divided, Karl Marx Allee main street in eastern Berlin over 150 breweries have set up stands. It's over 2200 meters long and the stands overlap on both sides of the sidewalk and down a couple of platzes (what's the plural of platz?) along the way. There are also a few distributors and a couple of liquor stores - one claiming 131 beers for sale by the bottle.
The organizers claim 78 countries, 1700 beers, and 700,000 drinkers over the three days of the festival. There might be an exaggeration there but it certainly is huge. Noon-midnight on Friday, 10am-midnight on Saturday, and 10am-10pm on Sunday. Within an hour of the starting time the sidewalk is crowded 6 wide at a crawling pace.

Friday was an adult crowd and the beer flowed freely. Saturday there were many Germans who came to Berlin for this event. Sunday seemed to be more of a family day.


So - on with the beers. Sorry about the short tasting notes on these 33 beers. Had to enjoy myself. I amused dozens of Germans and made dozens of 5-minute friends. Good days.
  • Allgauer Dunkel (Kempton, Germany) - Quite cold. Very bitter. Strong and roasty.
  • Kloister Andechs Dunkel (Andechs, Germany) - Still made by monks. Lightish brown, Good, crisp lager but unsweet and unbitter. A Warsteiner with more color.
  • Berliner Burgerbrau Bock (Berlin, Germany) - "Newcastle" brown color. A bit thin. Good. Middle of style.
  • Bohmisch Brauhaus Eisbier (Grossrohrsdorf, Germany) - Like an eisbock but they start with their pilsner. Bright yellow. Strong. Alcohol comes through. No noticeable alcohol in smell. Some pils hoppiness. Not much malt. Not sweet at all.
  • Derer Schwarzbier (Hlucen, Czech) - Deep brown. Rye and bready with floury dryness. Tangy dark fruit background. A+.
  • Ehringdorfer Schwarze Rose (Ehringdorf, Germany) - Almost black. Nice grey head. A black lager. Nothing special.
  • Eibauer Schwarzbier (Kleizen?, Germany) - Pure black. A bit of licorice. Lots of hops to balance and then some.
  • Eggenberg Schwartz (Cesky Kromlov, Czech) - Wonderfully malty with big balancing hops. Solid beer, yet delicate. World class stuff.
  • Fischer Brau Rauchbier (Greuth, Germany) - Very dark cordovan. In between Spezial and Schlenkerla. Has plenty of smoke but is somehow not satisfying.
  • Fraoch (Scotland) - On the handpull. Light, grassy. Very cloudy.
  • Grimbergan Optimo Bruno (Belgium) - Strong brown beer. 10% but slides down. Delicious belch. Import this beer.
  • Jacosover Dunkel (Czech Republic) - Dark reddish brown. Thin lager body. Glass-lacing head. Delicate malt with some roast. Emphasize the "delicate".
  • Karmeliten Brauerei Dunkel (Straubing, Germany) - Very balanced and neutral.
  • Katherinerbier Kukuch's Bier (? Maybe Wittenburg) - Deep deep brown. Special. Spicy sweet. Fruity. Stong alcoholic. Almost root beer strength. Heck, almost Drambuie strength. Somebody, please, import this stuff.
  • Katherinerbier Met/Kalt - Pronounced "meet". Mead. Still. Very light gold. Sticky sweet and thick. Pure honey mead. Decent stuff.
  • Katherinerbier Original - Almost black. Sweet malt. Thick. Not much else.
  • Browar Kormaraw Kirsche (Olsztyn, Poland) - Dark bright red. Subdued black cherry.
  • Lausitzer Porter Scharzes (?) - Deep black. Sweet and sharp. Edgy with CO2 notes, but not from carbonation - from dryness.
  • Brauerei Meissner Schwerter (Meissen) - Pure black. Not remarkable but a good, sharp porter with some roasty notes.
  • Mort Subite  KIirschbier (Belgium) - At Grimbergen tent. Big marischino with tart and sour against the sweetness. Bright neon pink.
  • Neuzeller Klosterbrau Kirschbier (Neuzelle, Germany) - Bedium dark red with a muddy pink head. Perfect tart, sweet, bitter, sour hit. Explodes on the tongue. A+.
  • Neuzeller Klosterbrau Schwarzer-Abt - Pure black. Lots of licorice hit. Candy sweetness without being sugary. Gotta go to Neuzelle - it's on the Polish border.
  • Obolon Dunkel (Kiev, Ukraine) - Good dark refreshingly dry. Overcarbonated.
  • Primator Exklusiv (Nachod, Czech) - They were out of their doppelbock by the time I got to their tent. Shame on them. Still, at 7% there's a noticable alcohol level in this otherwise mundane yellow pils. It was too warm.
  • Radick's Brauhaus Roggenbier (Finsterwalde im Brandenburg) - Murky brown. Rye is definitely in far background.
  • St Louis Honig Starkbier (St. Louis, Belgium) - Very bright brown. Moderately sweet. A touch of honey in the taste but not enough to identify clover, orange, etc.
  • Stortebeker Swarzbier (Stalsund, Germany) - Balanced and pleasant. Porterish. A little thicker than a normal schwarz lager. They say this is the style on the North Sea.
  • Braumanufactur Forsthaus Templin Beer Brand (Potsdam, Germany) - Tasteless schnapps, pure and simple.
  • Braumanufactur Forsthaus Templin Beer Likor - 14%. Strong and alcoholic like a sweet aged barleywine. Cognac thick. Dark reddish brown. They couldn't tell me how this was made, distilled, fortified, ice?
  • Vielanker Schwarz (Mecklenburg, Germany) - Very black. Big, black patent taste with lots of explosive bitter. Not smooth but not overpowering.
  • Werderaner Kirschbier (Werder, Germany) - Way overkill. Dark red. Too sweet, too cherry. But very popular - there's over a dozen people drinking it as I take this note.
  • Dampfbierbrauerei Zwiesel Dampfbier (Zwiesel, Germany) - Bright amber/brown. Honey kicks right at you. Fermented in open wood kegs. Laid down for 6 months. Dampf refers to the steam look from the CO2 released during fermentation. A southern Bavarian specialty. No honey is used in the brewing. Import this stuff.
  • Braueri Gastof Zwonitzer Roggen (Zwonitz, Germany) - Unfiltered hazy brown. Beautiful heavy rye with a wheat background.

There's lots of food with German dishes, of course, prominent. Wursts of all kinds. Bakeries going on site. Cheese. Pretzels, Cotton candy (Zuckerwatte), an "American Ice Cream" stand with soft-serve sundaes, meat on a stick, candies, fish and eel, Belgian waffles, one hamburger stand, french fries, baked potatoes. And of course pickles.

There were also 15 music stages. Weird to hear a band introduce a Karol Keene song and play, in English, with no accent at all, "Will You Love Me Tommorow" just as Carol King would. As a girl with pink hair in a death's head T-shirt taps her army-booted foot. 100ft away is an oompah band.

There was even a guy brewing beer on the spot.

These beer-can model cars are incredibly complex. Selling for 5 to 10.

Three guys in the back of this van waiting a while to go back to drinking.

If you might be thinking this is a good place to make an inroad into Europe for your brewery, you are right. There's lots of press around and it is, in fact, a profit-making event for most breweries.
The typical small brewery at this fest is serving 3 styles and more than 30 half-kegs on hand for the weekend. They have a small specially-built trailer or a custom pitch-tent. There are a couple with a rental trailer that looks purposely built for beer fests. They use the supplied water lines and 240v electricity to power a 2-stage glass rinse, an electric cooler/jockey box, and some interior lights. Most have a company umbrella or two to cover some of the supplied tables.
Brochures, mats, etc go fast. Many also sell T-shirts, hats, 4-packs, 6-packs, openers, and other memorabilia. Beer is served in company-logo glasses which are let out at a 2 deposit.
Prices are normally 1.50 for a .3 liter glass or 2.50 for .5 liter. Patrons who buy the official .2 liter mug for 3.50 get it filled for 1. Specialty beers such as lambics or doppelbocks are more and the festival glass is not honored (or maybe honored for 2€).
I envision an American promotion with a red, white, and blue tent selling about 6 beers. After all, there were breweries from Ukraine to Spain, Viet Nam to Ireland, but Sam Adams and Corona were the only North American brands present (plus one Cuban beer). Plenty of bitter pilsners, but no IPAs. Not a Cascade hop bouquet anywhere to be found.

Did stop at one Berlin brewpub. The Lindenbrau is under the Sony Center dome at Potsdamerplatz. It's one of the Hofbrauhaus Traunstein family along with our "local" Flieger Brau in Munich's suburb Frauenkirchen. They sell in the .3 (kleines), .5 (halbe), 1.0 (mass), and 1.5 liter "kanne" (8.80) but have only have one of their beers available:
  • Hofbrau Weisse - Hefe with lots of carbonation which gives a long lasting foamy head. Somewhat bready with no sweet banana. Just solid weissey beerness. Fairly dark.
But they also sell Berliner Kindl's Berliner Weisse in rot and grun and it should have been a good opportunity to compare the two. Unfortunately the syrups were overdone, making them diabetic sugary. The grun (green) woodruff syrup is very hard to describe. The beer came out a dark florescent green. It's not mint or lime but very tart to balance the sweetness. No beer essence at all.

There are at least 3 more brewpubs in Berlin but fifteen is my limit on schnitzengruben. Baby, I'm not from Havana.