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Sunday, 27 February 2011

All hail The Duchesse

Feeling a little continental after watching England trounce France last night, a few Moules Frites and some Belgian beer seemed quite in order.  Luckily we were just round the corner from the Dovetail, which I've been meaning to check out for some time.

Rather a compact little bar, not unlike the proper beer cafes you get in Belgium, I would advise calling to book a table under normal circumstances.  But we were fortunate to arrive just as another party had cancelled their Saturday night booking, it must have been fate, a theory I expounded to the barman at the end of the night, who very politely humoured me.  Anyway, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, we settled in for a thorough sampling of the beer menu.  All the usual suspects were on draught, as well as some less usual suspects - the delirium tremens was on typically lethal exquisitie form.

The selection of bottled beers was, as you'd expect, excellent.  The Grimbergen Double was a standout for me, having a good full bodied punch to it, whilst still being very drinkable.  The Steenbrugge Wit beer was very popular with everyone, being not too sweet, not too zesty, just fresh and grassy.

Another top tip of the night is Lindemans Cassis.  Always wary of alocpop-style fruit beers, I was looking for a not-too-sweet framboise, perhaps a Lambic, but the barman said all their framboise was on the sweeter side.  I was on the verge of choosing Liefmans' lambic framboise-kriek hybrid when he talked me into the Lindemans Cassis.  This is truly the kir royal of beers.  Amazingly intense blackcurrant flavour, not sweet at all, with the full tartness of blackcurrant, this was a very drinkable "dessert beer" at the end of the night.  High praise to the barman.

But my absolute favourite of the night was the Duchesse de Borgogne.  I had really enjoyed the Rodenbach earlier in the evening, a rich sultry lambic, but the others weren't so keen.  So I thought I'd sneak the Duchesse in under their radar.  To my delight they loved it, and it disappeared rather quickly.  A real "fruit cake" beer, with sour cherry running through it, but still appealing to a broad range of palettes.  I have to applaud this, and am only sorry I never got round to trying the Rodenbach Grand Cru, to see how it compared.  But it's always good to leave wanting more - it provides a convenient excuse to go back...

I am feeling a bit of a Belgian burst coming on now.  I wonder what other echos of Belgium London has to offer...

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