Daily Archives: December 2, 2009

#30 – Tongerlo Tripel Blond

#30 - Tongerlo Tripel Blond

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 8 %

The date on the label of the Tongerlo beer says 1133. If I’m not mistaken that’s – er – 876 years of brewing beers? Apparently true.

The monastic community of the Norbertine Abbey of Tongerlo was founded in the same year, and like all good monks, they didn’t mess around in getting the beers brewed. We have Abbot Waltman and Bishop Burchard of Kamerijk to thank for this, and the subsequent rise of Tongerlo abbey as a powerful centre of religion and culture.

The usual history affected the abbey throughout the middle ages with secular powers and Calvinism haranguing the occupants, but it was only eventually World War I that put a final nail in the coffin of the brewing at the abbey, when the German occupying forces looted the abbey of the copper stills to make armaments. It was only in 1989 that the beer was re-launched by Haacht, and the Norbertine traditions (#137) were once more reignited in this beautiful area.

With a seriously blocked nose it probably wasn’t wise to waste a beer as I was unlikely to taste much, but I doubted it would be a classic. The beer poured golden with an initially thick head, with not much of a smell and to be honest not much of a taste (who knows?). This seemed a fairly routine blonde which definitely tastes of 8% but remains fairly anonymous. Pretty average fare in all with bit of a kick to it. I blame the Germans 😉

(Post-Script) – I have since learnt that this beer is now retired, to be replaced by the stronger and yet untested Tongerlo Prior Tripel.

4 Comments

Filed under 6, Abbey Beer, Abbey Tripel, Haacht

#29 – St Feuillien Blonde

#29 - St Feuillien Blonde

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 7.5 %

Another famous Saint? Yep. Another martyr? Yep. Another range of beers in honour of? But of course. Did he come from Ireland originally? How on earth did you know that? .. yawn

It’s a familiar story, Feuillien (or as often referred to in Ireland as Foillan) decided in the 7th Century to quit the Emerald Isle and chance his arm in Britain. He settled in East Anglia until viciously attacked and in one last fling at peace, he boarded a boat to the continent of Gaul, where he spread the word of God, setting up a monastery in Fosses-la-Ville in Namur. One night while on his way back from preaching in local Nivelles, he was set upon by bandits and brutally murdered, having his head cut off and thrown into a pigsty. Again rumour had it that the head continued to preach as it lay in the hay (reminiscent of St Livinus #18).

As a martyr he attracted many disciples who eventually in 1125 set up the Abbaye St-Feuillien du Roeulx in his honour. The abbey of course flourished until the decimation of the French Revolution, but the legend and name of St Feuillien live on in Belgium, especially with the self-named range of beers being fairly popular in present day Belgium.

I have to say however, that I wasn’t overly impressed with this one. This may be more personal taste than anything as everything else seemed to fit the bill. It smelt extremely fruity, had a big puffy head on a barley coloured beer. I couldn’t clear the taste of lemons, and it ended being very distinctive – just too distinctive in the end. I like beers that challenge me, and remain unique, but this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

(Post-Script) – Much better beers are the velvety St. Feuillien Brune (#119), and the sumptuous St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel (#123).

10 Comments

Filed under 6, Abbey Beer, Belgian Strong Ale, St. Feuillien

#28 – Bon Secours Brune

 

#28 - Bon Secours Brune

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 8 %

This website is beginning to feel like a trainspotters’ guide to monasteries. For that I must apologise, but I must admit my previous views of the behabited ones was that life can’t really have been much fun, but then on reflection – offer good beer and silence to any man, and it’s likely they will bite your arm off.

Bon Secours is another example of a brewery taking the name of a local monastic establishment and playing on its status to sell brews – although with one vital difference – this time its all about nuns !*

Peruwelz is both the home of Caulier the brewery, and a side-arm of the Bernadine Bon Secours monastery which was formed in 1904. This may seem rather late in the day given recent accounts, however the story of the nuns travel here shows how determined and passionate they were to find a home again. Typically during the French Revolution they found themselves leading a nomadic life – desperate to continue to live in the Cistercian tradition. Eventually, they made home at the monastery in the village of Esquermes near Lille, before dispersing further afield. There are actually orders of the nuns in England, Japan, and even the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burkina Faso. Quite what association the nuns have with the beer is another question, but it serves once again as an excellent example of the selling power of the church when it comes to alcohol in Belgium.

I would surely hope that the Grolsch-style bottles were not around in the monastic days, as I would imagine there would be a few vows of silence ruined by a rogue bottle of brown beer exploding all over a monks freshly cleaned habit. This certainly happened to me, with once again, the sofa cover needing a thoroughly good dry clean. I am now banished to the kitchen to open my beers! In fact, the whole product was deeply malevolent – complex, herbal and extremely spicy, not unlike a beer equivalent of mulled wine. Possibly a little similar to the Trappistes Rochefort 10 (#13), although essentially thinner. Totally enjoyed this beer, once I had learnt to get it in my mouth, and would definitely be perfect for a Christmas tipple.

* (Post-Script) – The nunnery is now sadly closed.

4 Comments

Filed under 9, Abbey Beer, Abbey Dubbel, Caulier