Monday, September 30, 2013

A Feast of Food Pairing Ideas for Autumn Maple

Autumn is here and it's time to take a look at the great seasonal eats on the horizon as the leaves turn. This guest post comes from cookbook author and freelance writer (and our friend!) Randy Clemens:

Autumn Maple is a beautiful thing. Chock full of yams and the perennial potpourri of pumpkin pie spices, it’s pretty much a natural choice to have alongside a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. But that’s just a little too predictable for you, isn’t it? You want to dig a little deeper because you’re a gourmand. You’re clever... and I like that about you.

Funny enough, when I gave Saison Rue a shout out in a piece I did on beer pairing last year, I got an email shortly thereafter from The Bruery’s Director of Marketing, Benjamin Weiss, exclaiming, “You put a Bruery beer in a Thanksgiving article… and it wasn't Autumn Maple?! You are crazy!!!”

So, what else could you pair with Autumn Maple? I thought you’d never ask. Here are a few of my favorite things to match it up with:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Staring into the Barrel -- Our Final Days in Belgium

What do they call craft beer in Belgium? Beer.

So many beers. So many personalities. Each a mirror of their brewer.

First, Tilquin, a "blenderie." No production here. Just blending of some of the finest lambics Belgium has to offer.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Bruery's First Day in Brussels

Our day began with the usual wi-fi check in at the nearby hotel, followed by a brisk walk through Bruges to the train station. All of us were equally excited at the idea of purchasing Belgian beer from a vending machine to drink on the train, but alas, it required ID and none of us trusted that our California ID would work. So we ended up having fun buying several bottles of cola which had our coworkers’ names on them.

Once in Brussels, it was another short walk to Cantillon. Like nearly every other beer geek, Cantillon has been on my list of bucket list breweries to visit since my first introduction to the Cantillon Gueuze in my craft beer drinking infancy. I had heard stories of others’ visits, so I knew to expect the brewery to be oddly located in an unassuming industrial building, in a not-so-glamorous area of town (sound familiar?).

The instant we walked in, a change in atmosphere could be felt. We went from the warm sweaty streets of Brussels to a cool, pleasantly humid, and deliciously smelly interior. The stern-faced lady behind the counter greeted us with a friendly smile and gave us her spiel of the brewery basics, the lambic brewing process, and how to proceed on the self-guided tour. Soon enough, we were on our merry way.

The first stop was the ‘Mashing tun’. The rustic white walls and floor of the room complimented the rustic wood and antique looking metal equipment as if it were staged for a museum… except, unlike a museum, this is completely functional and makes some of the best lambic beer around.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cantillon, Cantillon (You're so delicious)

I think I Cantillon, therefore I can.
What tricks belie your layered lambics?
The guzzled gueuze that goes so quick?
With sours of cherries, grapes and raspberries.
A perfectly balanced lot, like your teetering tin man, a teetotaler not!

Cantillon, our fermenter mentor, our tormentor.
Spiders in webs, wed beside barrel heads. Spying on flies.
So is this where spontaneous souring secrets lie?
Or in the wood beams, near the coolship tun?
(Is there no health department in Belgium?)
I've prayed tell us, what games, will say the rows of
Rosé de Gambrinus, are played?

Forget it. A sip of Lou Pepe made with Schaerbeekse,
a Zwanze, a Kriek, a Framboise. A fanboy am moi.
An ode to an oude gueuze of 2006.
What would I owe to taste the brett in that mix ... again?
So much to gain.
I think I Cantillon, therefore I can.

Yes, this beer poem was indeed written by Carl Katz, our CFO and resident champion of eastern culture ... and poems.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

We're Famous! In Belgium, at Least

We were part of a Belgian TV Show segment while visiting 3 Fonteinen during our pilgrimage! Check out Patrick, Matt, Carl, Ben and Tyler in the clip starting at about 2:03

Thanks to our very astute Facebook fan Kevin Dvs, we have a translation of what master brewer and lambic blender Armand Debelder is talking about after we handed off some of our beer to him!
Basically they are saying that a lot of americans are visiting 3 Fonteinen. The commentator says that it is unbelievable how much these americans know about Armand's brewery and that they almost see Armand as an idol; they have an unlimited respect for him. 
Armand himself doesn't understand this hype around his person. After the conversation in English (when Armand is pouring some gueuze) he says that his brewery is some kind of Disneyland for American brewmasters. Then he says that he visited USA in June, and when he told people he is a belgian brewer, Americans considered him as a rockstar and wanted pictures with him. 
The commentator says 3 Fonteinen was almost broke 15 years ago but because of the big interest from American customers and other foreigners, they survived. Now they can't keep up with the orders from abroad. If Armand wants to, he can sell all his stock to American customers but he doesn't do that because he's loyal to his local customers. 50% is export.
Kevin kindly explained the highlights of the rest of the piece as well:

Belgium, Day 3

Lets start at the very Beguine, a very fine place to start.

For our first day of brewery tours, we loaded up in Serge's van and headed towards Antwerp. Not far from there, in the area of Mechelen is Het Anker, a brewery that is on a location where beer had been brewed for over 700 years. In the 1400s, the Beguine sisters received permission to brew beer here. Beguines and Beghards were an indigenous Catholic religious order, whose adherents performed works of mercy, which included running hospitals, baking bread for the poor and, at this particular Beguinage (convent), brewed beer.

A local volunteer took us on a tour of Het Anker. We tried to explain that we were an owner and employees of a brewery in the States, but the point got lost. Tyler especially enjoyed hearing how beer includes four basic ingredients and how yeast turns sugar to C02 and alcohol.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Belgium, Day 2

Note to self... when seeking to conquer a foreign land, be well rested.

Our 20 hour journey from Orange County to Chicago to Brussels to Brugge took its toll on us. We arrived in Belgium on Tuesday (though it might've been Wednesday), met our driver Serge, who took us the 90 minutes to Brugge.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Bruery Takes Off for Belgium

Belgium is a door mat. In the course of European history, one country/kingdom/empire/duchy can't conquer another without trampling over the country. It's the original Game of Thrones.

In the course of the last 2000 years, the Romans, French, Habsburgs, Vikings, Germans, Spanish, English, Austrians, and countless fiefdoms have had there way with large swaths of the Low Countries. No wonder Belgium is the world's beer capital, as what could be more needed than a nice pint after another day of storming the castle?

Today, The Bruery prepares for its own invasion.