Sunday, February 20, 2005

72 Hours of Belgium Beer Festival

So many beers, so little time.

The 72 Hours of Belgium Beer Festival took place this past weekend in Baltimore at Max's Taphouse. On tap, Beer Manager Casey Hard had in excess of 25 beers - in bottle, in excess of 100 different brands. Suffice it to say, the selection, bottle and draft, was extensive and stunning.

A lot of beer glitterati were in attendace Saturday evening when I was there. To name a few, in no particualr order: Ed Janiak, past brewer at Oxford Brewing; Joe Gold, Baltimore's long-time beer guru; Chuck Cook, peripatetic beer traveler and writer; Rick Kennedy, past brewer for Brimstone Brewing; Ed James, treasurer, Society for the Preservation of Beer from the Wood; Volker Stewart, Tom Creegan, Chris Cashell, Steve Frasier, owners and brewers of Brewers Art; John Pollack, past beer buyer for the Old Vine; Ron Fischer, cellarmaster for importer B United, International, and others whose names I have forgotten or whose conversations have become, I must apologize, lost in a mist of Belgian euphoria.

In the for what its worth department, here are some notes I took on my handy dandy (geeky) Palm Tungsten T3.

Beers I tried (some sipped, some drunk):

Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux
Disappointed. The 'Uber' Saison character of the bottles I have tasted was missing here, replaced by a deep amber color and matching maltiness, and a somewhat flabby character.

Le Canard
Complimented Chris from Brewers Art on this. A Kwak-inspired brew (hence the punny name), cask-conditioned, and poured from handpump. Amazingly bright! Crisp firm biscuity malt, appropriate fruit and spice.

My surprise favorite of the evening. Deep golden, very 'sparkling'. Botanicals nose and flavor. Eminently drinkable. Now, if it weren't for the high price of the bottle ...!

Cantillon Lambic Aged 2 years
Nectar!! I was surprised by the mellowness of the beer. Lactic creaminess outweighed acetic character. Poured from draft there was som sparkle. In a bottle would assume this would be nearly still.

Cantillon St. Lamvinus
Stunning. Not worth the price but so deliciously complex. An example of wine in a beer without the usual oxidative wininess. Instead, hints of vanillin and Bordeaux character. If it weren't so expensive, this would be my #2 'go-to' gueuze after Hanssens.

Fantome BBBalliard
didn't like. seemed unfermented/worty. Maybe a bad bottle.

De Dolle Special Brousel 2000
A 'special' treat from Casey to us. Still good; malty, complex, but in a 'tween' stage where the aging is more of an oxidative/winy note than the the mellow sherry/port stage.

De Dolle Dulle Teve
as tasty as ever, if a tad sweeter on draft than in bottle. Slight haze, good bead, spicy/zesty

La Rulles Tripel
Wonderful, creamy, spicy, nicely done sweet mouthfeel.

De Dolle Special Export Stout
This seemed a bit harsh/acrid roast. I'll have to revisit it when I haven't had lambics in my mouth.

Val Dieu Winter
stopped taking notes by this one, but dark, plummy, cinnamony. Would be good after-dinner, slightly sweet, winter brew.

I didn't get to the food. (If I used emoticons, there would be a smiley face here.)

Yours for good fermentables,
Thomas Cizauskas

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