Monday, March 7, 2011

James Bond (Sean Connery) in Bier Central?!?!

Hello there,

If you read the title you must wonder if I'm joking. Well, I'm not! This friday (March 11th, 2011), we will have a visit of nobody less than Sean Connery. Sean Connery is most famous as actor of legendary movies like James Bond (Gold Finger, Dr No, From Russia with Love, ...), The Hunt for Red October, Indiana Jones, and many many more.

But Sean Connery is also a proud Scottish man, and loves to promote everything Scottish. As such he will come over to promote the Gordon-beers we offer (Gordon Scotch, Martin's Pale Ale). Allthough these beers aren't Belgian, they are brewed in Belgium (by brewery Timmermans), and as such we do serve them. To promote these beers, he will be joining us and you might get a beer served by the man himself.

For anyone who's a fan of this legendary actor, this might be the chance to have a drink with him and have a chat.

It's not clear yet when he will be there, but it will be in the evening. So be sure you are on time and find yourself a seat, as you probably won't be the only one. And though there is quite some room in our pub, we don't have unlimited space.

So, be there on Friday ... not only will you get to taste a beer you might not know yet, you might also get that beer from Sean Connery himself!!!

See you on Friday!


Friday, February 18, 2011

First Bier Central beer tasting report, February 3rd ...

Hi there,

It's been a while since my last post here. Apparently winter is at it's end, spring is coming, and I've been suffering a nasty flew, as I seem to be having the last 10 years around this period of the year :( But I think (hope) I'm over it, and feeling better again. So the last few weeks my head wasn't really "beer-minded" to be honest, hence the lack of posts here. Now, feeling better again, it's time to get back on track :)

Two weeks ago, we had our first "open" beer tasting at Bier Central. Anyone interested could join the tasting at a very reasonable price of €12,5 per person. The tasting was lead by Hans Bombeke, president of the ABC (Antwerps Bier College). Hans is a real beer expert and has been giving workshops about beer for many years. He is also a full-time teacher in beer-science, and though he doesn't admit it: he knows about everything "beer", especially Belgian beers.

We started around 8:30 pm and took around 2 hours. During those 2 hours the approx. 25 participants got tons of information about beer/tasting beer, and eventually tasted 6 beers covering a wide range of Belgian beer-styles.

The tasting started of with a hefty intro, giving us everything needed to enjoy a good tasting. During that intro we first got a ton of information about "beer" itself. It's ingredients, it's elements and everything needed to taste beer the right way. During this intro we got to drink a "De Koninck", or "bolleke" as it called here in Antwerp.

A bolleke has never been one of my favorites, but with all the information we got and the positive atmosphere, I have to admit that for the first time I actually liked it (and I was actually feeling sick that day).

As it was the first tasting, we got served a wide variety of beer-styles. Future tastings will focus on specific beer-categories, in which we will taste different beers from a specific beer-style. Now, we got to taste 6 beers all from different categories.

After the De Koninck we got a "3 Fonteinen Oude Gueuze". Allthough I liked this one very much, I noticed that several people didn't share that same feeling, which surprised me a bit. In hindsight this is of course a bit normal. Gueuze is a special and very typical Belgian beer-style, not known to the masses. You would probably have the same when you would do a cheese-tasting and started off with a bleu Rocquefort (while having never tasted different kinds of cheese). It's too much of the good, too soon. One's taste has to grow towards more complex tastes before being able to appreciate all the aromas.

The third beer was yet again a very typical Belgian style beer: a Rodenbach, an Old Flemish Red style beer. Rodenbach is a sweet-sour dark beer, with it's roots in the West-Flanders.

The fourth beer was another typical Belgian style which is most famous around the world: a trappist beer. For the occasion we got to taste a La Trappe Quadruple, a very strong, rather sweet amber-dark trappist, which was liked by many of the participants.

The next beer was yet again of a complete different style called a "Saison". The Saison Dupont was a very nice surprise for me, as I never tasted a saison before. Bitter-sweet and very easy drinking. I can imagine that this kind of beer is super during the summer.

Our sixth and last beer was a XX Bitter. As the name already reveals, this is a very hoppy and bitter-tasting beer. I was a bit reluctant to taste this, as very bitter is not my thing. But much to my surprise I actually liked it a lot, and is certainly a beer I will drink again!

This first beer-tasting sure proved to be a success and I'm looking forward to the next tasting on March, 3rd, where we will delve further in a specific category to explore more beers. Again, this coming tasting is open to anybody interested. Just mail me, or to reserve your place. Hope I will meet you there!


Monday, January 24, 2011

How beer saved the world ...

Apparantly there's a new show coming on Discovery ... watch the ad ... I've always known: nothing, NOTHING has been more important than beer :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beer Review #3: La Trappe Tripel

The La Trappe Tripel is brewed by Beer Brewery de Koningshoeven, the only Trappist brewery in The Netherlands. All beers are brewed in collaboration with the monks of the O.L.V. Koningshoeven Abbey. This monastery was founded in 1880 and is compared to the other trappist monasteries, relatively young. It was founded in The Netherlands after moving from France, where they were worried about the fate of the monks.

There are actually quite a few La Trappe beers: Blond, Dubbel, Tripel, Quadrupel, Witte Trappist, Bockbier, Isid'or, Oak Aged, PUUR and Real Trappist. Here at Bier Central we offer the first 4, and the Tripel is the first one I'll describe.

The La Trappe Tripel has an ABV of 8% (alcohol), and has a golden to light amber color. The firm white foamhead disappears quite fast, allthough there remains a very thin layer that stays on top of the liquid.

The smell is quite fruity and reveils the coriander, which definitely gives it a spicy character. The beer is well carbonated, but I found it to disappear quite fast, and made the it a bit flat if you don't drink it fast enough. I like my beers well carbonated.

The mouthfeel was well present, which wasn't the case for the aftertaste. It's taste reminded me of something roasted and also made me think about caramel. Bitter-sweet I'd say.

Allthough this is definitely not a bad beer, it's not one of my favorites, especially if you compare it to their Quadruple, which I like much more.

Don't try to compare it with the Westmalle Tripel, it's a complete different tripel, it would be like comparing apples to oranges. Where the Westmalle stands out in it's bitterness, the La Trappe Tripel is way more fruitier and sweeter.

My rating ... 6 out of 10.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Beer Review #2: Achel Blond

The Achel Blond is, just as the Westmalle Tripel, a beer of one of the 7 trappist monestaries in the world. Achel Blond is brewed by the Saint-Benedictus Abbey "De Achelse Kluis", situated in the small town of Achel (B), near the Dutch border.

Just like most of the other trappist monestaries, it's roots go way back, back to 1656 to be exact. Since that time the "Achelse Kluis" is a center of prayer, spirituality and christian culture.

The Achel Blond is a tripel beer, with re-fermentation in the bottle, and has an ABV of 8% (alcohol), slightly less than the Westmalle Tripel.

The Achel Blond is again just as the Westmalle Tripel clear and yellow-gold of color, but slightly darker than the Westmalle Tripel. The foam-head is white and big, and lasts for a decent time. It is a bit more carbonated than the Westmalle, which you can see more clearly.

Just as the Westmalle it's smell reveals hop, but again a little explicit as the Westmalle. Mouthfeel is a bit lame, but the aftertaste is all about hop and bitterness.

In many ways you could say the Achel Blond is a slightly softer version of the Westmalle Tripel.

A very nice beer, which I surely will drink again, but personally I prefer the Westmalle Tripel, which is a bit more pronounced in all it's aspects.

My rating: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beer Review #1: Westmalle Tripel

In my previous post I showed you my first batch of beers I'm about to taste ... tonight I tasted my 2 first beers. I started with the Westmalle Tripel. Not actually the best choice as it is a very strong beer in it's taste and overwhelms other tastes. Using this as the first beer is risky, cause it's taste might stick and influence the taste of the next beer. But since I consider Westmalle Tripel as a reference beer, I thought it to be a good starter.

Westmalle Tripel is brewed by the Monastery of Trappists of Westmalle. The history of this monastry goes way back, back to April 22nd, 1836 to be exact. One constant in it's long history is that over the years they kept on investing in their manufacturing plant with only one aim: better quality of their Trappist beers. Better quality is truly the "leitmotiv" through the history of the brewery.

And it shows (or tastes in this case). The Westmalle Tripel is a true example of a high quality Trappist beer that has had this high standard for many years.

No need to mention that the Westmalle Tripel is categorized as a Trappist beer. Trappist beers are beers brewed by or under control of Trappist monks. To learn more about what exactly defines a Trappist beer (or Trappist monastery), check the International Trappist Association website.

The Westmalle Tripel is as a true Tripel should be, quite strong in alcohol. With 9,5% ABV this beer has a strong punch. If you plan to drink Westmalle Tripels for a whole night, beware! Believe me, I've seen very tough guys, who really can handle a lot of alcohol, go completely wasted after 5 or 6 of these. Personally I think this has not only to do with the alcohol percentage, but also because of the density of the beer. Trappist beers seem to be more dense than other beers, and as we say here in the Flanders: "die blijven aan de ribben plakken" (literally translated "they stick to the ribs", meaning they are stronger than what you're used to).

When pouring in the beer, you notice that besides the golden yellow clear color, you get a firm, white foamhead, which lasts for a decent time. The smell reveals a lot of hop. I noticed some "glue"-like scent. I recall that this smell is due to a particular sort of hop, but I can't recall which one (I'll ask my mentor one of these days). I also noticed some vanilla-aromas. Be sure when you first taste this trappist, not to pour everything into your glass. The bottom of the bottle holds a lot of yeast. If you add this to your glass the beer might get a bit cloudy and adds an extra punch of bitterness. It is also said that this last bit of beer holds a lot of vitamine E.

When tasting, I found the mouth-feel a bit disappointing, but the taste in the back of the mouth is quite the opposite and overwhelming. A strong bitter taste that lasts very long. Bitterness is the keyword for this beer.

The Westmalle Tripel is definitely one of my favorites, a beer I like to drink on a regular basis, and which is, here in Belgium, easily available in many stores.

Allthough there are numerous beers that have a more pronounced bitter taste, for me the Westmalle Tripel is about as high as bitterness of a beer should go. More bitterness would probably be too much. For me, the Westmalle Tripel is, as far as bitterness goes, the perfect match.

If you like bitterness and hoppiness, and you want to get to know what a trappist (tripel) beer tastes like, this is definitely THE beer to start with!

My rating: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First batch ... trappists ...

Hi there,

here is the first batch of beers I'll taste and review. Contrary to what I said before (tasting all the beers from page 1 to 86), I will start with the first category after the large bottles ... the trappist beers, Belgiums glory :)

Below a picture of all the beers I have here at home.

Shown above are:

  • Achel Blond
  • Achel Bruin
  • Chimay Bleue
  • Chimay Rouge
  • La Trappe Blond
  • La Trappe Dubbel
  • La Trappe Tripel
  • Orval
  • Rochefort 6
  • Rochefort 8
  • Rochefort 10
  • Westmalle Tripel
There are missing a couple however: the Westmalle Dubbel, the Chimay Tripel and the La Trappe Quadruple. The 2 first ones (Westmalle Dubbel and Chimay Tripel) are on tap, so I'll have to taste those in Bier Central, the last one (La Trappe Quadrupel) is currently out of stock, but should be here anyday now (chances are it's back in stock by the time I post this).

Of course there is missing one very important one (3 actually) ... the West-Vleteren trappists. But since we don't serve these (West-Vleteren is not commercially available), I do not have them at my disposal. I will ask my mother to go and get some for me one of these days (she lives very close to the monestary).

Stay tuned for the next updates ...