As spring continues to evade Belgium, and the family has run off to Scotland in search of warmer weather -- yes, that’s how bad it’s been here -- I carved out some time to catch up on a bit of important paperwork. But since tax forms are infinitely dull and these ones aren’t due for some time yet, I figure it would be far more interesting to write up some tasting notes that I’ve also been neglecting for a while.
Let’s start with a few blonde Belgian ales. I’ve run into a few new ones in recent months, all worth mentioning. Well, actually, they’re more worth drinking than mentioning, but you know what I mean.
The first is an experimental beer from Brasserie de la Senne here in Brussels: Wadesda #3. It’s not a strong one, being only 5%, and this comes across in the taste right away. Wadesda #3 has a thinnish mouthfeel, and astringency in the aftertaste grabs your palate’s attention. Its elegant simplicity reminds me of Westmalle Extra, though Wadesda #3 is more foamy and less spicy. I think it’s only had a limited production run, but grab a bottle if you can.
Not exactly new, but new to me, is the second offering. Lamoral Triple Degmont is a fine, classic triple: rich and strong. It also delivers hints of lemon and rosemary that I find very welcoming. I think I’m right in saying this one is named after the 16th century Count of Egmont, whose beheading in the Grand Place in Brussels helped trigger the uprising that in time would lead to the independence of the Netherlands. (thanks, Wikipedia) This beer is not going to spark any major revolts against established political authority, but it is certainly worth a try.
Again new perhaps only to me, Non Peut-Être hails from The Black Cat Brewery, located in the village of Genval just outside Brussels. I don’t know much about it, but I think they only create the recipes there and do the actual brewing off-site. Perhaps a reader could jump in and correct me if I’ve got that wrong. Non Peut-Être pours darker than the previous ones -- it’s a lovely amber-orange -- and it’s got an apricot note that sets it apart from others.
Finally, we have Vlawa, which really is a new addition to the world of Belgian beer, only appearing this year, I believe. It seems to be available in a few limited locations for now, and you might be more likely to find it at a beer festival than a bar for some time yet. I was able to get a taste only because the brewer is the friend of a colleague.
The name “Vlawa” comes from a combination of Flanders (Vlaanderen) and Wallonia, celebrating the union of the two major parts of Belgium, which don’t seem to agree on much besides beer these days. The beer pours a rich, gold-orange colour, and the taste is classic triple but with notes of elderflower, honey and liquorice. More on this one at the Vlawa website.