Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kerstbierfest

Just some pictures for now.










Back at the Kulminator after the fest...








Didn't take many pictures the 2nd day -- it looked pretty much like the first.

Struise Special K -- 22% "Kaiser Stout"
Leifmans Grühkrieck -- served hot.

Three warm krieks to choose from



The beer I had for dinner -- OK but not that interesting

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day Two in Antwerp

I decided to try a restaurant, Fiskebar (on Marnixplaats) that was recommend to me. It is supposed to be a Danish style seafood place.  It turns out they have two places next to each other, so I ended up a the more informal "Fiske Tapa/Oysterbar" rather than the "sit down" type more formal dinning next door. But it was good and I'd definitely go back. Plus its only about 10 minuts from the Kulminator.


They had a bowl of mixed shellfish in a garlic sauce. It was very good but I was burping garlic the rest of the day.


I wandered around Antwerp for a few more hours until the Kulminator opened (at 4pm). Life was easier when they opened earlier.

I broke with my usual tradition by not starting off with a draft beer, but rather the beer of the month, Ename Cuvee. I really like the Ename Triple so I thought I'd give this a try. I was amber colored with good flavor and not too strong -- a good starting beer.



There were a few draft selections I hadn't had, so I decided to "run the table" -- except for the fruity beer.
I having had a Bourgogne des Flandres in a while, so I went with that first. There was just the right amount of sourness and no saccarine sweetness that you fine in some other breweries versions of this style.


While the beer is good, I do like the thistle glasses quite a bit. This is the Gordon's Christmas from 2008. Very malty as you'd expect.


I couldn't wait any longer, I had to have an Avec les Bons Voeux -- it was all the better for the wait.


Now it gets interesting.  I wanted to try one of the "new" Westvleteren 12 -- the ones packaged in painted bottles and sold as sets in some supermarkets here. But I was told they weren't serving those, they were being saved for later. Leen said that even Dirk hadn't had one. But she brought me one anyway -- it's good to be a "semi-regular" sometimes.


Not making any comment on where it was brewed, this beer is different that the Westvleteren 12s I had in the past. It was sweeter and the fruitiness and yeast character was missing. It wasn't bad by any means, but certainly not worth the prices they are fetching. Another note to this -- the best buy date on the cap was only 2 years in the future -- the W12s I've had before were 3 years -- which I always thought should be "don't drink this before date" as they are much better with a little aging.

Dirk came over and asked if he could taste it. (Of course I said yes). He took a few sniffs, then a sip,  swished it around in his mouth,  shook his head and said "Westmalle Quadruple." I don't have the knowledge or expertise to judge that, but I can tell this is a different beer -- either "dumbed down" in order to increase production or farmed out to another brewer.

I guess I was "over the hump" as I seem to pick up speed, alcohol wise. Next was Bush Noel (this from 2010) and at 12% is a big beer. If Santa reads this blog, he can bring me all of these he wants.



The finale is Mikkeller Black (brewed in Belgium, of course) at 17.5%.  This is some Imperial Stout. I think this one will age for a while, but I'd be hard pressed to save any, it was so good.




That was supposed to be the last beer, but I wasn't really ready to leave, so I asked Dirk to pick a beer we could share. He came back with a Hoegaarden Grand Cru from 1985. It had aged well, but it made me sade that I didn't have a chance to drink it when I was (reasonably) fresh. Of course in 1985 Anchor Steam was an exotic beer for me so even if I had traveled to Belgium I wouldn't have tried. Mr Peabody, I need your wayback machine.


Not sure I took this, just fooling with the camera but I did like design on the cap foil.


And I took a short video clip that I hope will show those "Snow lights" I mentioned yesterday.

video

The Kerstbierfest starts tomorrow -- I think I am ready.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Drinking in Antwerp

After the De Koninck, I had the St. Bernardus Christmas.


Followed by a De Struise Pannepot Reserve Special (3 years in a port barrel, I was told). Yum.



I love this window decoration (it was taken from inside so the text is mirror image)


In addition to these taps, there is a separate tap that had the Affligem Christmas.


It was getting on time for the Kulminator to open, so I decide to head that way. Went by some more Christmas Markets...



Santa Costumes for everybody!



I got to the K. just after they opened. It's always tough to pick the first beer


When in doubt, go for a favorite: Avec le Bons Voeux from DuPoint.


Followed by another favorite, Gouden Carolus Christmas


Head that this years Stille Nacht was good, so I had one. It is very good -- and I bet in 10 years it will be a classic.

There was quite a bit of buzz in the beer world about the Westvleteren packs being sold in the grocery store. It turns out there are quite a lot of these still available. Also heard a rumor that they were actually brewed at Westmalle. The two breweries to co-operate: Westvleteren uses Westmalle bottles and supposed the Westmalle yeast.




Jet lag was starting to kick in so I had a final beer: Straffe Hendrick Quadruple.


These doesn't show up well in a photograph, but the streets in this district of Antwerp have these great "falling snow" lights.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

First Beer in Antwerp

And it is a Bolleke (De Koninck) at Antwaerps Bierhuiske


It is a grey and rainy day here, but what do you expect for December?



There are a bunch of little Christmas Markets in the Old Town, around the Cathedral.

And then I was ready for a beer...



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On my way to Belgium...

...for the annual Kerstbierfestival (Christamas Beer Festival) It is held each December in Essen, Belgium (not far from Antwerp) and this year they expect over 160 beers -- all Christmas beers brewed in Belgium. The fest is only two days so I have my work cut out for me!