22 September 2007

Keep your kriek

I made two fruit beer finds in Brussels last week. The first is Mandarin Mortal which struck me first with its incredibly amateur label. Presumably the brewers at Mortal, caring not for image quality, have their minds on more important things. From the mandarins I was expecting something sweet and Fanta-like, but instead got a marvellously bitter and peppery beer with the orange flavours playing second fiddle to the beer complexity. Great stuff and, icing on the cake, served in a stoneware ostrich eggcup. There really aren't enough beers served in stoneware, in my opinion.

The second hit was Bon Secours Myrtille. If your kitchen French isn't up to it (mine isn't) then the blueberries on the label are there to indicate what this is made with. It's dark red and heavily sedimented, giving off a strong blueberry aroma. On tasting, the wheat beer base lends texture, but stands aside to let the delicious sour fruit flavour come to the fore.

Brussels may be best known for making fruit beers from lambic, but so much more is available.

8 comments:

  1. Bailey5:53 pm

    I had a Jever Pils from a stone krug a few weeks ago, and I swear it tasted at least 25% better than usual.

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  2. I hope you're not one of those Jever people who get annoyed when non-Jever people criticise Jever. I've never known a beer with such a fundamentalist fan base.

    My best ever stoneware beer experience was in this place in Estonia. They do an unhopped red ale with floaty herbs served in a mug. "Dark Strong Beer With Herbs" it's called: now that's marketing.

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  3. Bailey1:10 am

    I don't have a close personal relationship with Jever -- but it is in my personal top ten. There are Jever people...? Boak's not convinced about Jever at all.

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  4. The "unfiltraet" (sp?) draught lager I had in a stoneware stein in the Ratskeller in Pforzheim wasn't any better for the stein, I don't think, it was just a marvellous brew anyway, and in my top beer experiences for flavour alone. It was only in a stein because, being unfiltered, it was murky as a Sussex sea fog ...

    As for Jever, it shows all those American "extreme beer" idiots how it should be done - go Europe!

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  5. It's an odd one, the murkiness. "Oh", the trivia on the menu goes "all beers were cloudy until glassware was invented". So when beer was first poured into a glass, the customer presumably said "That's what I've been drinking? Ugh! Take it away and bring something I can see through."

    Weird.

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  6. I must confess to only having discovered fruit beers quite recently. I am really quite impressed with them on the whole.

    I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on how a brewery that produces lambic beers ensures the consistency of the end product if they are relying solely on naturally occuring yeasts to ferment the wort.

    Am I missing the point? Are the brewers trying to achieve consistency or just good beer?

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  7. I think every commercial brewer wants consistency at some level. With spontaneous fermentation, it seems that the place of brewing is vital. The Brussels area has long been known to have particularly useful wild yeasts in its atmosphere. When they changed the roof in Cantillon, they kept the old roof tiles in the fermentation room to keep the same strains of yeast near the wort.

    And secondly, there's the blending. Pure lambic is very rare, and probably specifies its batch, kinda like vintage wine. Most everything else is blended which will ensure some kind of consistency.

    Plus, of course, bunging fruit syrup in will cover inconsistencies in the base beer as well.

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  8. A mate and I were discussing this last night over a few pints followed by a couple of halves of kriek.

    It seems I was labouring under the misapprehension that the yeasts on the fruits surface were responsible for the bulk of the fermentation rather than the yeasts floating in from the aether.

    Cheers for clearing that up for us.

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