Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Nine New Belgians

By Jay Brooks
Saturday, June 19th, 2010 at 4:52 pm in On Beer.

In my column two weeks ago, Betsey’s Belgians, I highlighted Waterloo Beverages and the new beers they’re bringing in from Belgium. Since these beers are so good and I think deserve a chance to catch on with customers, I wanted to highlight each one of them a bit more and let you know where they can be found, at least so far.

st-amand

Abbaye de St Amand

Brewery: Brunehaut Brewery
Beer: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
A.B.V. 7%
Package: 330 ml bottle-conditioned
Organic: no
Notes: the Abbaye de Sint Amand, a bottle-conditioned strong blonde ale spiced with Juniper berries. The Juniper is subtle and gives just a hint of the berry’s distinctive flavors and has a great dry finish.

arend-tripel-sm

Arend Tripel

Brewery: Brouwerij De Ryck
Beer: Belgian Tripel
A.B.V. 8%
Package: 330 ml bottle-conditioned
Organic: no
Notes: The Arend Tripel from the Brouwerij de Ryck, is a favorite of local brewer Brian Hunt, who owns Moonlight Brewing in Santa Rosa. Hunt tells me, in fact, that he asked Hensley to bring in the beer, as he waxes poetically about the brewery. De Ryck “is a third-generation family brewery, and makes some of the finest beers in the world, with a brilliancy and passion you don’t often see.” After a visit to the brewery, he’d become friends with Anne De Ryck, one of Belgium’s few women brewers. “I don’t think a man can make that beer. Her beers have a grace that I haven’t found in others. We can’t make it, but we can appreciate it.” And it is a beautiful beer, soft and subtle, with some delicate flavors. It may simply be the best tripel you’ve never heard of.

Bersalis

Bersalis

Brewery: Oud Beersel; brewed at Brouwerij Huyghe
Beer: Belgian Tripel
A.B.V. 9.5%
Package: 330 ml bottle
Organic: no
Notes: The brewery’s only non-lambic beer, Bersalis, a tripel they created to help finance the operations of the museum brewery where they make their lambics. It uses wheat, as well as malt, to soften it and includes some spices to give it great citrus and spicy notes. It has a nice dry finish, and you’d never guess it’s 9.5% a.b.v.

gageleer

Gageleer

Brewery: De Proef [website currently offline]
Beer: Belgian Pale Ale
A.B.V. 7.5%
Package: 330 ml bottle-conditioned
Organic: yes
Notes: Gagaleer is a blonde brewed with sweet gale (a.k.a. bog myrtle) a traditional spice used in gruits that pre-date the use of hops in beer, though it’s used primarily here as a spice. The beer also uses local barley and Belgian hops. The beer is honey sweet and the finish is candy sweet, balanced by the bitterness of the sweet gale and hops.

Ichtegems-grand-cru

Ichtegems Grand Cru

Brewery: Brouwerij Strubbe
Beer: Flanders Red Ale
A.B.V. 6.5%
Package: 330 ml bottle
Organic: no
Notes: The Ichtegems Grand Cru, from the De Strubbe Brewery, is a Flemish red ale aged in oak barrels. It has a malty nose and flavors, with just a touch of sourness, a creamy mouthfeel and a sweet finish.

jessenhofke

Jessenhofke

Brewery: De Proef [website currently offline]
Beer: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
A.B.V. 8%
Package: 750 ml bottle-conditioned, cork & cage
Organic: yes
Notes: This beer is brewed with unrefined cane sugar giving it a ruddy complexion along with organic hops — Challenger, Goldings & Fuggles — from Poperinge, organic malt and there’s also organic garlic used in the brewing process. The garlic provides mostly body and mouthfeel, though it is evident in the aroma.

leireken-bio

Leireken Wild Berries

Brewery: Brouwerij Strubbe
Beer: Fruit Lambic
A.B.V. 8%
Package: 750 ml bottle-conditioned, cork & cage
Organic: yes
Notes: Leireken Wild Berries is a bottle-conditioned fruit beer made with the juice of pomegranates, cherries and strawberries, along with the pulp from blueberries, raspberries and the red elderberry, all organic and unfiltered. Surprisingly, the beer is more tart than sweet, and is refreshingly light and zesty. According to their website it’s “is based on Leireken White Spelt, an organic beer brewed from spelt. Spelt is a hardy ancient type of wheat that grows well in nutritionally poor soil. Its slow maturation process allows the plant to absorb a maximum of minerals from the soil. The 12th century medieval abbess Hildegard von Bingen, later Saint Hildegard, endorsed spelt, calling it “the healing grain.” (She’s actually quoted as saying, “It is rich and nourishing and milder than other grains. It produces a strong body and healthy blood to those who eat it and it makes the spirit of man light and cheerful”).”

beersel-old-geuze

Oude Geuze Vieille

Brewery: Oud Beersel
Beer: Gueuze
A.B.V. 6%
Package: 750 ml bottle
Organic: no
Notes: The Oud Beersel brewery is a working museum just like Cantillon in Brussels. According to their website, “Oud Beersel Oude Geuze is one of nature’s miracles. Oude Geuze is a blend of lambic from different years. One year old lambic is still readily fermentable. Two year old and three year old lambic main contribution is to the taste. Blending the lambic produces a sparkling beer that is made in accordance with time-honored traditions. Oud Beersel Oude Geuze notable hop and fruit character is much appreciated.”

beersel-old-kriek

Oude Kriek Vieille

Brewery: Oud Beersel
Beer: Fruit Lambic
A.B.V. 6.5%
Package: 750 ml bottle
Organic: no
Notes: Oud Beersel’s website describes Oude Kriek as “an artisanal product, made from real cherries and Oud Beersel Lambic from old barrels. Once the cherries have been added to the Lambic, they are slowly absorbed into the Lambic, which develops a fruity character and a red colour.
Oud Beersel Oude Kriek is unique of its type in that it contains around 400 grams of cherries per litre of Oude Kriek. Oud Beersel Oude Kriek has no added sugar and contains no artificial flavourings or preservatives.” It’s only bottled once a year, and what’s available now was bottled last fall.

The beers are just rolling out to retailers and restaurants around the Bay Area. So far, you can find some or all of them at the following locations:

  • Beer Revolution
  • Bi Rite Market
  • Church Key
  • City Beer Store
  • Eastside West (Restaurant on Fillmore)
  • Healthy Spirits
  • Heaven’s Dog Restaurant
  • Jardiniare Restaurant
  • The Jug Shop
  • Lunardi’s Supermarkets
  • Monk’s Kettle
  • New Star-El
  • Noeteca Restaurant
  • Pi Bar
  • Shotwell
  • The Slanted Door Restaurant (Ferry Building)
  • Swirl
  • Toronado
  • The Village Market (Ferry Building)
  • Whole Foods (Haight Fillmore)

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  • http://www.brewedforthought.com Mario Rubio

    A couple things to add.

    Here’s a little more of a review on Amands and the Gageleer: http://www.brewedforthought.com/?p=2345

    Also, a selection of the beers can be found at Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa. The Arend’s Tripel and Gageleer are also available at Toad in the Hole, located in Santa Rosa as well.