The Porterhouse's annual Belgian Beer festival doesn't kick off officially until this day week, but the grand launch by the Belgian ambassador happened in the Temple Bar branch last night and yours truly was invited along to sample the wares, hassle the management, and generally rip the arse out of their generous hospitality. Again.
Some fairly high concept Belgiany nibbles were rolled out, including mini pots of very authentic stoemp with not-so-authentic cocktail sausages and a Kriek Boon sauce. Gratinated mussels were the highlight for me, though the Früli jelly would have been much more manageable had spoons been supplied. Anyway, we were well fed.
I was quite surprised to see one of the special draughts they've brought in for this is Chimay Blanc. I had been labouring under the impression that Westmalle Dubbel was the only tap Trappist around, but there you go. I don't remember the last time I had this tripel from Scourmont, so it was first on my roster yesterday. I've noted before that Chimay beers tend towards the bitter, and this one is decidedly tart all the way through. It lacks the fruity-spiciness that I like in my tripel, but it's still a big and tasty beer.
Früli is a regular at the Porterhouse and is being brought to the fore for the duration of the festival. I'm a big fan of this the strawberriest of strawberry witbiers. Newton apple wit has made a welcome return and sinks just as easily and deliciously as last year. I didn't go near the Leffe Blonde, a beer I understand InBev Ireland are trying to get into more and more mainstream bars. I'm not especially fond of it, but hey, if it serves as a gateway ale for less adventurous punters, good luck to them. And, strange as it sounds, InBev are still very much the little guy in this country.
The last temporary tap was pouring Delerium Tremens. I've never had this on draught before and found it slightly unsettling. The bottled version has a delicious interplay of flavours going on, but yesterday it was being poured exceedingly cold and it was hard to determine any of that. The carbonation was off too, making it flatter than I would have expected and little bit cloying and difficult. I was back on the Newton after just one.
It would have been nice to have the Westmalle Dubbel in again, just to put a bit of colour into a parade of blonde ales and fruit beers. I also didn't get a chance to examine which, if any, bottled Belgians had been brought in. I'm guessing Hercule Stout is too much to hope for, but if there's anything particularly special in the fridges I'll be sure and let you know. The festival runs until Sunday 27th.
(Thanks to Fiona, Jim and Dave at the Porterhouse for the invitation and conversation. More of this kind of thing, please.)