Although I grew up in Paderborn, my culinary horizons in terms of beer, hops and wheat products fortunately do not end with Paderborner Pilsener. I owe part of this opening of horizons for several years now to winding family paths that occasionally bring me into the enjoyment of fancy Belgian beers. Anyway, beer is such a broad field, for a comprehensive introduction to all the variations and diversions I can only repeat myself and recommend this excellent CRE podcast.
The other day, a large shipment from this same family-entangled Belgian source arrived in our Hamburg test kitchen. The plan: to taste the beers and try to set them off properly with a dish or two.
Jandrain-Jandrenouille IV season
A surprise hit. I had already read that this visually quite appealing bottle (4.16 €) is a classic version of a Saison, so a light, fruity and very fresh beer.
So I combined it with (m)a chicken soup, Roasted Chicen Soup, a soup based on an organic chicken roasted the day before, very crispy and with lots of oriental flavors, and stuffed with two boiling(!) lemons. Very strong, dark, fresh, quite spicy and very intense.
In addition, the Jandrain-Jandrenouille IV performed fantastically. The lemony hints, fresh hops and aromas of hay, citrus and summer meadow are a perfect match. A great, light yet complex beer, naturally cloudy and in Belgium usually brewed probably more for the summer.
St. Bernard Abbot 12
The bottle (0.75l for € 5.57) reveals it at first glance: It is a Trappist beer, but only according to history, for many years already St. Bernard’s is brewed outside the monastery walls. But of course based on the old recipes.
The typical malty tone dominates, in this case very clearly and pleasantly tasting of caramel. Combined with very strong quiche, autumnal, winter and very strong.
Abbaye des Rocs Triple Impériale and Struise Black Albert
The Abbaye des Rocs Triple Impériale is a classic Belgian Strong Ale with about 10% (0,75l for 6.75€). I tasted it in a typical combination with French cheese and baguette.
Visually I found it less appealing, overall both the alcoholic note and the strong yeast aroma dominated too much for me.
I had not yet guessed that the second candidate of the evening, the Struise Black Albert, (3.97€) is again an increase compared to the Triple Impériale. An increase both in terms of alcohol content (13%) and intensity. Already when pouring the beer of the category (Russian) Imperial Stout is noticeable that it has an extremely high viscosity, oily pours the beer into the glass and forms an extremely dark and firm foam. Underneath, there is an intensity of flavor that I have not experienced before. All very heavy, very full and very massive. But, very malty, distinct hints of chocolate, coffee and of course yeast. The high alcohol content comes through, but is not too dominant. An exciting beer and a great companion for strong cheese.
3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze
What strikes me again as I write these lines is how incredibly wide the spectrum of Belgian beers is. The 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze (37,5 cl for €3.76)
has nothing at all in common with the two previously discussed heavy and very strong beers.
I combined it to a very light summer meal, bechamel, peas, mustard and eggs. Of course, a typical gueuze goes excellently with it. Since the process is completely different from most other beers (it is not only a cuvée of a one, two and three year old lambic, but this is also developed by spontaneous fermentation, that is, without the addition of yeast). The fine aroma and the nut light mousse makes it feel much lighter, with a little imagination you can quite follow the relevant descriptions, which almost compare the Fonteinen Oude Geuze with a good champagne. An ideal combination with light dishes, certainly with fish, salads and shellfish.