Belgium has a "new" beer, and it's an interesting one. "Seefbier" was
launched in Belgium in March, and what was projected as a
seven-month supply sold out in two weeks!
The driving force behind Seefbier is former Duvel/Moortgat Marketing
Director Johan Van Dyck, with his Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie.
Van Dyck, who lives in Antwerp, became intrigued-even obsessed,
he might tell you-with finding the recipe for a style of beer that was
said to be the most popular one in the city from around 1800 to about
Seefbier is mentioned numerous times in local historical records.
An 1863 account called it a "white beer that foamed like champagne,
and went to and the head like port." A 1904 account said that it was
a "Poor man's champagne."
An area of Antwerp called the Seefhoek was actually named after
Seefbier: "In those days, this was the area where all the nightlife,
dance halls and bars were located. Since a beer was at that time
synonymous with Seef, that part of town was nicknamed the beer
area, or Seefhoek," Van Dyck remarked. "In fact, that area is still
called the Seefhoek!" he added.
Van Dyck told me during a recent interview: "I searched for two
years to find a recipe. I searched the city archives, old newspapers,
talked with descendants of old brewing families, and even
interviewed elderly people in retirement homes, hoping to find an
old brewer. I finally found a brewer's handwritten notes. At that
point, I knew I needed help to translate this old recipe to modern
Van Dyck contacted Professor Freddy Delvaux and his son Filip
of the Catholic University of Leuven. Both men are highly respected
scientists in the field of brewing in Belgium, especially in the area of
fermentation. Both agreed to help analyze the recipe and help recreate
buckwheat, oats, malted barley, and Belgian hops, as well as a
historic yeast strain. It is a very cloudy beer, somewhat akin to
a witbier, but without spicing. It’s also a bit stronger, at 6.5% abv.”
beer trends in Belgium: everybody is now making extra hopped,
high ABV beers, or other more 'experienced' beers such as sour
brews. Seefbeer is the complete opposite: instead of an complex
or extreme 'sipping' beer, it is a very mild, soft and balanced brew,
with a subtle taste and similar aromas. The bitterness is even lower
that a standard Belgian lager, at 17 ibu."
and found it an interesting, refreshing brew. But that was a long
weekend with many beers, so I decided to taste it again. Last night.
It is indeed as I remembered, an easy-drinking, cloudy, refreshing
brew with notes of citrus, other fruitiness and light spicing.
See: Seefbier for more info.