It’s too hot. Too hot and muggy to drink anything heavier than Helles, let alone write anything longer than a snarky Facebook status about the arbitrary and dangerous recent beer tax raise or the spin-war those who run this country are determined to launch. However, I still drink heavier stuff and still determined to go on with this blog and the 1001 project and beer writing in general, even if it means tasting Belgian ales in the middle of the Tel Avivian summer and then re-live the experience by looking at the tasting notes and typing.
The people we taste with rarely ever bring Belgian Ales to the sessions. Scandinavian stuff?Oh yeah! American beer? Bring ’em in! Italian brews? The more, the merrier. Belgian ales? Unless it’s Crazy Sour Sessions or true rarities, usually they won’t be found on the table*. It’s too heavy, too spiced and not too interesting to the seasoned drinker, I guess. However, the Israeli market is quite fond of Belgian Ales with it’s high alcoholic percentage and sweetness. Maredsous, the Dwarf beer and Chimay are popular around here and beer importers always expand the selection of available Belgians. Besides the major players, every now and then the local beer hunters and gatherers bump into new bottles on the shelves, brought by unknown businesses that for one reason or another decide to get into the importing game, either because they read too many press releases about the raising popularity of beer or because they drank something fantastic they had to share with the world. I think that De Halve Maan beers that The Secret Agent and I spotted on the shelves of the local homebrew supply business Beer-D in the spring of 2011, is an example of the latter. Why else would a computer hardware company distribute beer from Bruges?
The three types of beer marketed by the computer company, Straffe Hendrik triple and quadruple as well as Brugse Zot, were a rare sight at the beer shops. Then it went on sale at the Ninkasi, Beer-D’s pub and pretty much disappeared from the market. We bought bottles at Beerandbeyond’s sale last spring. They seemed pretty old back then and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were from the same batch as the ones we bought at Beer-D’s a year before.
The Secret Agent and I remembered liking those beers, but lowered our expectations because of the age of the bottles and more importantly the shift in our particular taste, that’s been less tolerant towards Belgian stuff. The floating particles that were pretty apparent while pouring the clear amber liquid kinda turned me off. It also tasted and smelled old and cider-like with dominant yeast and toffee in the nose and sour in the mouth. I recall it was much better last time we had it.
Last May The Not-Yet Nicked brought us 2 25cl bottles from the beer tour he guided in Belgium. I sent him a list of 80+ items and told him to grab whatever. Didn’t look for rarities (and at that point preferred not to spend money on them anyway), just for stuff that’s unavailable here. He returned with bottles of Rodenbach and Dupont Biolégère, both we shared at tastings.
Biolégère is an organic Saison by the creators of Saison Dupont which we fondly remember from our trip to Belgium last October, but like too many other organic beers we got to sample, this one wasn’t satisfying. Dry aroma with some yeast and limestone and a little sour, a little sweet taste. It has light body and fruity finish and I won’t regret never drinking it again. Rodenbach is a Flemish sour ale. I’m becoming more and more tolerant towards sour beer so drinking it wasn’t too shocking. Sourness and cherry in the nose, malt, sour, sweet undertones in the mouth and a medium body with hops that pop up towards the finish.
These were beers #95, #96, #97 I must try before I die. 3 more to the 100.
*The above sentence is based on gut feelings and not on real statistics.