Tuesday, May 29, 2012

of Love & Regret-a pictorial tour

The highly-anticipated of Love & Regret Pub and Provisions
opens tomorrow, May 30 , 2012 at 11 am. This collaborative project
between Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales and Ted
Stelzenmuller of Jack's Bistro has been in the works for several
months, and the soft opening was held on Monday, May 28th.

I'll just say the food and beer were superb.

of Love & Regret is located just across the street from
The Natty Boh tower in Baltimore's Canton neighborhood,
at 1028 S. Conkling street.

(Photo, above: the dirty smirk drip tray)

(Photo, above: the second floor.)

(Photo, above: that's the harbor and Fort McHenry 
in the distance. The third floor has a great view.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The First Austrian Trappist Beer

Well, the world's eighth Trappist brewery has produced its first beer.
Gregorius is named for the a former Abbot of Stift Engelszell. It has 
9.7% abv.

See here for more photos.

From the International Trappist Association Newsletter:

"The Trappist monastery of Stift Engelszell is located in Engelhartszell, in the northern part of Upper Austria, on the Danube, in a valley with wooded hills.
This monastery has been a member of the International Trappist Association (ITA) since 2008.  
In 2009 the ITA granted Stift Engelszell the right to use the “Authentic Trappist Product” label on its Trappist liqueurs.

Today the Trappist community is launching a dark Trappist beer, the “Gregorius” (9.7% ABV).  This name refers to Dom Gregorius Eisvogel who was the abbot of Stift Engelszell Abbey for 25 years (1925-1950).

The right to use the “Authentic Trappist Product” label on this beer can only be granted later though...
...for a thorough assessment by the International Trappist Association (ITA), lasting several months, must precede this authorization.

However since the “Gregorius” originates in a community of Trappist brothers, it may now – like all products produced by Trappists or Trappistines – already be justly called a Trappist beer in honor of its place of origin !"

Stift Engelszell
Stiftstrasse 6
A - 4090 Engelhartszell 

Tel. +43 (0) 7717 80100
Fax +43 (0) 7717 801017

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal: barrel aging project

Photo, above: Dries and André Jannsens,
Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal.

Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal: a barrel aging project

One of Belgium’s newest farm breweries recently began 
an exciting new project.

Yours truly was just there to check it out.

(Photos, above: Brouwerij and farm of Hof ten Dormaal.)

Hof ten Dormaal, located near Tildonk in the northeastern part of the Province of Flemish Brabant, near Haacht, has added new blond and dark ales to their lineup. Both are 12% abv. What’s even more exciting is that these beers will be aged in barrels that recently contained Armagnac, Cognac, Jenever, Madeira, Port, and Sherry!

(Photo, above: former Port barrels at Hof ten Dormaal.)

Owner  André  Jannsens told me during my visit on May 1st: “I went to France, Germany, Italy and Spain in search of freshly used barrels. It’s pretty easy to find good used wine barrels, but hard to find Cognac and Armagnac. I developed a relationship with a small producer of those in France, and I was there when these were emptied.”

(Photos, above: former Cognac and Madeira barrels.)

André’s son Dries, Hof ten Dormaal’s brewer, went to Portugal in search of Madeira barrels. “There is a firm that builds these barrels (new) in a little town about 30 km from Porto. They sell them to the Madeira makers, and then buy them back once used a few times. The firm, J. Dias & CA, SA, then sells the used barrels to whiskey producers, and us, as you can see. They even branded the barrels with our logo.”

(Photos, above: former Jenever barrels. They were also former wine, 
then whiskey barrels.)

The former Jenever barrels were first used by a winery many years ago, then by whiskey makers for over 50 years. They then held Belgian Jenever for 20 years. Now, they will contain beer. That’s a great run of…alcohol maturation!

(Photos, above: a tasting of six different barrel-aged beers
in the brewery tasting room.)

The same base blond and dark ales will be used for all the barrel aging: “The only difference will be which barrel the beer is aged in,” André commented. As the nuances from these brews will come from the barrels, the hop content is very minimal: “These beers only have about 1/3 the hops of our Amber and Blond Saisons,” Dries mentioned, as we tasted a sample from each of the six different barrel-aged brews.

(Photo, above: five of the six barrel aged beers. Corked,
75 cl bottles. Photo courtesy DVT Photography.)

“We will age the beers for about 2 months in the barrels, then they will be put into 75 cl corked bottles. A small amount of sugar will be added at bottling to spark a refermentation,” Andre told me. There will be about 2,000 to 3,000 liters per bottling for each of the different barrel types. So that makes somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 bottles for each flavor, so to speak. Most of Hof ten Dormaal’s barrels hold between 400 and 600 liters each.

Why two months as maturation period, you ask? “Professor Freddy Delvaux, who is the Head of the Center for Malting and Brewing Science, at the Katholieke University of Leuven, recommended this. He advised me that with freshly emptied barrels, it should take about that length of time to impart the character of the former wine or spirit into the beer within the barrel,” André told , as we sipped a delicious Cognac-barrel aged sample.

(Photo, above: former Armangnac and Cognac barrels.)

Only the Armagnac, Cognac and Jenever versions had reached full maturation at the time of my visit, and I was very impressed by them, especially the Cognac version. I hear Prof. Delvaux liked the Armagnac version best.  The rest of the samples only had about 2 to 4 weeks aging time, so they were young, but with great potential, I think.

An early bottle run took place in mid-May, just a few days ago. The beers will be labeled as: Beer Nr. 1-Jenever; Beer Nr. 2-Armagnac; Beer Nr. 3-Cognac; Beer Nr. 4-Sherry; and Beer Nr. 5-Madeira. No beer from the Port barrels have been bottled yet, but that would assumedly be Beer Nr. 6.

(Photo, above: former cider barrels in an old WW II blockhouse 
on the farm. They are not being used at this time.)

“I also bought some used Aquavit, Grappa and Sauternes barrels, and I even have some used cider barrels as well. But I have not decided as yet what to use these for,” André remarked.
“Also, I think I have found the perfect place to store our barrels. As you can see here, we have no cellar at the brewery, and we don’t have an extensive amount of room. There was an old Abbey one kilometer from here, and the cellars are 200 meters long, and 5 meters wide. That is a huge space. So, I think we will relocate our barrel-aging project there, and also possibly install a small bottling line in the future. The reason for this is that we want to limit the possibility of infection in the brewery. So, we will keep our Saison beers and barrel-aged beers separate,” Andre stated.

It may be some time this autumn before we see these brews stateside. They will be imported by 12 percent imports/Brian Ewing. See here

Hof ten Dormaal is also adding a new bottling line soon. They had just poured a new concrete floor in the room where the bottler will reside before my visit on Belgium’s Labor Day, a national holiday. In fact, at least 25 cyclists stopped and asked if they could pop in for a beer on that warm sunny Tuesday, as the country backroad is popular cycling area.

(Photo, above: André pouring a Hof ten Dormaal
blond at In de Ster/Bij Boeres Krant in Wezemaal.)

(Photos, above: inside the brewery.)

The brewery is best known for its Blond and Amber Saison/Farmhouse ales, as well as the Witloof beer. Witloof is Belgian Endive, considered a delicacy in Belgium. They also craft a winter brew in season.

(Photo, above: the pond and Belgian draft horses
on the right.)

Hof ten Dormaal produces all the hops and malts needed for their beers on their farm. They even have a pond and pasture across the road, with several authentic Belgian Draft horses. It’s an incredibly serene and beautiful spot, and its tasting room is open from 1 to 5 pm most Saturdays. They are also open for beer sales from 6 to 8 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. See here for more info.

(Photos, above: Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal's brewhouse
and fermentation room.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dupont Spéciale Belge

The Dupont-Iron Hill collaboration beer, brewed for 
Philly Beer Week 2012.

It is Dupont's first ever collaboration with another brewery. 

I'm not going to steal Philly's thunder, so you can read tasting notes 
from Philly Beer Week luminaries Here

Speciale Belge will debut June 1 at Philly Beer Week's
opening ceremonies. Get there and taste it!

I'll just say I really liked it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Trappist article in the ITA Special Edition newsletter

Article about Trappist breweries, beer and other products: Here

Friday, May 11, 2012

De Cam Kriek-Lambiek

                                                  Oh yeah. Enough said.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Belgium: trip 24, day one.

Looong time no post. Getting ready for an eleven day, fifteen brewery trip will do that to you.

Sorry everyone.

Here's a pictoral look at some of the places I visited on April 21, 2012.

Brasserie Augrenoise in Casteau, Hainaut Province, Wallonia.

Christian Bougard, brewer of Augrenoise.

Mashing in at Brasserie Augrenoise.

Augrenoise, the brewery's primary beer. It contains
6.5% abv and has a fine hoppiness. A very
good beer.

Gunther Bensch of Brouwerij Montaigu pouring an 

The Augrenoise Noel, another very good beer.
This one has 9.5% abv. Yum. 

Taverne La Fourquet, taproom/restaurant of
Brasserie Blaugies.

Kevin Carlier, brewer of Brasserie de Blaugies in Dour, Hainaut Province, Wallonia, inside his brewhouse.

Alain Bailleux of Brasserie Au Baron in Gussignies, 
France. The family is actually from Belgium, which 
is just over the border. 
Blaugies and Abbaye de Rocs are less than 10 km 
away. The family have been running the superb 
restaurant since 1973, and have been brewing several 
fine beers since 1989. Cuvee de Jonquilles is imported 
stateside. The Saison Saint Médard Ambrée should be 
as well. 

Now this is how grills should be cooked. Take 
an old copper mash tun, cut it so the front part 
fits in the corner of a wall in your restaurant, and 
get busy cooking. Nice. Seriously. Cool. Oh, and 
the food...

I had a mixed grill with baked potato and asparagus 
on the side. Gunther had a steak and frites. The food 
was excellent. That's Alain pouring a Cuvée des 

Alain pouring the Amber Saison, 7% abv. 
This one had a year of age on it, and possessed 
an enticing light sour character. A very good 
farmhouse ale!

Another brewhouse shot at Brasserie Au Baron.

The restaurant/brewpub is located in a beautiful
setting, right beside a small river. There is seating 
for over 200 people outside in good weather. 

Brasserie Brootcorens (Erquelinnes)
Hainaut Province, Wallonia. 

Brewer Alain Brootcoorens with his son and

Brewer Alain Brootcoorens with a colleague in the brewhouse.

Alain savoring the smell of some whole hop flowers. 

Brasserie Brootcorens has a hop field across the street from 
the brewery. 

Alain with his new Abbaye de la Thure beer, with 10% abv.

Well everyone, that was just day one on trip 24. Of course it was a Saturday, which is always a good time to visit breweries in Belgium. More later!