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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Brasserie d' Ecaussinnes

Just a short note, but I couldn't finish the glass without mentioning this sweet little nugget of a brew to the world.  Unfortunately it was so irresistable, I was more than half way through before I thought to take a photo of it (also being new to the whole photography of beer thing), so you'll have to excuse the dodgy "artistic" angle, while I try to make my glass look more than half full (less than half empty?), but here it is:

Ultramour... and in love I am.

A little gem selected by Squirrel as we raided the Beer Store in Bruges.  Not one I would have picked up (terrible label), so lucky the shopping list was not entirely down to me.

The cloudy mahogany liquid (that's not just dodgy photography, it was pretty cloudy) smelt like liquid marzipan.  There was something entirely aromatic that kept the spicy raspberry palette very much in balance.  I'd also be surprised if there wasn't some cherry in there somewhere too.  Although it's hard to tell from the vague description of "top fermented fruit ale".  The exquisite champagne bubbles swept the flavour over your tongue, reverberating round your mouth.

Really rather good, from a brewery I've never heard of in a town I've never heard of.  I'm now keenly keeping my eyes open for somemore "Ultra" beers...  anyone seen any this side of the channel?

Monday, 7 March 2011

More Belgian antics

So "Belgian beer week" (OK, 2 Saturdays do not in any way, shape or form make a week, and I didn't fulfil my original intentions) was (nonetheless) very successful.  I am pleased to learn that London has an impressive collection of Belgian beers on offer.  Although it won't stop me going to Belgium, because there is no substitute for the real thing, as I discovered, there are some excellent imitations. 

I was a little concerned when I booked my table at Lowlander that they insisted it was table service only.  I know it works in Belgium, but perhaps I wasn't ready to fully transport myself across the channel whilst still firmly in the West End.  Still, I rolled with it, and thankfully so, for how wrong I was.  Not only did we luck out with the best table in the house (so you really didn't want to leave it) but the table service was amazing.  Waiters who were knowledgeable about the beer turning up at perfectly timed intervals to refresh your glasses.

And where to start with the beer?  Well, I got to try the Rodenbach Grand Cru and establish that it wasn't as good as Duchesse de Borgogne.  More sour and less mellow, although I still salute the overall style and until I find a successor, crown the Duchesse as the queen of it. 

The Karmeliet Triple is another best in class with a lovely fragrant lemongrass, but slightly sweet palate to it.

Troubadour's Magma and Obscura were both a delight.  The former your classic "hop store" on the nose and the latter a mild stout that bore slightly disconcerting resemblence to marmite, but tasty none the less (I am a marmite lover - if you're not, maybe steer clear).

 The Lindemans Faro definitely won the prize for smelling least like it tasted.  Aroma comparisons varied from cheese to sock.  But a lovely raspberry palate came through afterwards (if you got that far). 

 I had a small dabble in one of the guest draft beers, as recommended by our smooth talking bar steward - the Kasteel Rouge.  This was a perfect "dessert beer" - it literally tasted like a cherry reduction.  Too sweet for most, but you have to admire the intensity of the fruit flavour.  Only for half a pint though. 

And finally, of course I had to end the night on a hoptastic beer.  So much so that the barman felt the need to warn me it was very hoppy.  The Viven didn't disappoint.
All in all, a cracking selection of beers, some very tasty mussels and throughly decent Belgian Beer Cafe experience, delivered by some excellent staff and only spitting distance from Covent Garden.  We are truly spoilt in this cosmopolitan age.