Category Archives: Du Bocq

#210 – Triple Moine

#210 - Triple Moine

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 7.3 %

When is a new beer not a new beer? The answer to this question became obvious on my brewery tour of Du Bocq. Following a mystifying non-English speaking jaunt around the premises I was delighted to settle in the brewery tap and select my free beer from the bar. I’d opted for the Deugniet (#64) for no other reason than it had a jaunty picture of a jester on the label and I’d never seen it before. As I recall it was a reasonable beer, and it was with beer in hand that I approached the bar and attempted to engage the bar girl in some inane beer chat. It’s what the English are good at.

“Sho”, she says in a thick Flemish drawl, “thees Deugniet beer you are drinking eest the same as these one here”, pointing at the small bottle of beer behind the bar with the dull brown label that didn’t have a jaunty picture of a jester on the label. “Excuse me?”, I said trying my best not to sound Dutch. “Yesh, they are the shame beers, but for different markets – the Deugniet eest for the Dutch speaking people, and the Triple Moine eest for the French speaking people”. I’ll spare the rest of the conversation from these pages, but it essentially covered the Belgium Conundrum, and one of course which has resonated through the politics of the country for the last year or so. Belgium is divided of course and if it helps to sell beer then why not market the same beer to two different populations?

I’ll tell you why not – because it fucks with my counting! Is the Triple Moine a new beer? It’s not is it? It’s the same beer but it’s just called something different. I decided the matter needed investigating, and once I was back in the UK I started to poke around. I noticed the small farmyard brewery at St Monon did it. Their Ambree for example doubles up as a number of brand beers for local breweries. Lefebvre have done it also – their Floreffe Double (#40) is also a double of the Durboyse Brune; their Floreffe Wit is also their Blanche de Bruxelles. Brasserie de Silly have done it, Millevertus have done it, and Van Steenberge – well they are guilty beyond belief.

I needed to make a judgment call and decided to rest my case on the tasting. I much preferred this one to the Deugniet. It looked the same as you would expect, but this seemed to be more fruity than I noted from the brewery tap. It had a decent afterkick and it lasted well to the end of the beer. I am beginning to learn that on different occasions and under different conditions, beers often can taste very different, even if they are actually the same. For that reason, and because a different label can tell a different story I am counting them. In this case a new beer actually is a new beer, though there isn’t much of a story on this one. Moine means monk, and that’s about as interesting as it gets.

5 Comments

Filed under 7, Abbey Tripel, Du Bocq

#136 – Cuvee li Crochon Brune

#136 - Cuvee li Crochon Brune

Size: 250 ml

ABV: 8.7 %

This beer took me back in time, to reclining by the sumptuous Lake D’Iseo in northern Italy and polishing off the rather uninspiring Cuvee li Crochon Blonde (#58). It was time to offer one last chance of redemption to the sister brown beer. I had previously introduced the Brotherhood of Li Crochon, who were set up to promote the local cuisine and tourism, and it is on the medallions of these officials that we see the link to the heron on the label of the beer.

The reference of the heron is in testimony to the many of these wading birds that have used the local area as a stopping off point during their periods of migration. The small river valley of the Condroz is a sumptuous pastoral landscape which is perfect for birds seeking the peaceful solitude and verdancy which accompanies the bloating of the river in the wet months. The valley is punctuated by charming picture-perfect villages, local taverns selling regional beer and hundreds of miles of walks, fresh air and touristic activities.

I have headed here on numerous occasions while stocking up on beers, to escape London and to take some time exploring the local area. Two worthy stops on this itinerary are the Abbey at Maredsous (#44, #111), and the chateau at Falaen, another place where the heron can be often be sighted, and which interestingly is watermarked on the label.

If on your travels you do find the li Crochon beers on offer, I strongly advise you to opt for the stronger brown. Having expected very little from this one I was very nicely surprised. At 8.7 % she immediately grabbed your attention, with a mixture of malt, licorice and other dark pleasures. My only disappointment was that with just 250 ml, she was gone before I knew it.

1 Comment

Filed under 8, Belgian Strong Ale, Brewers, Du Bocq, Heron

#74 – Agrumbocq

#74 - Agrumbocq

Size: 250 ml

ABV: 3.1 %

DuBocq announced their newest beer with the following – “After the Applebocq and the Redbocq, the Brasserie du Bocq is pleased to announce the birth of the Agrumbocq”. I wonder if the Director of the movie ‘Air Bud 4: Seventh Inning Fetch’ followed a similar marketing strategy? For anybody who hasn’t seen the movie franchise of the sporting golden retriever – don’t! Where Air Bud is clearly catering for the inane and the immature, I am still no nearer working out what market Agrumbocq is trying to serve. DuBocq recommend on their website that it is ideal after sport. Perhaps this may be why the Belgian national football team have so shamefully failed to qualify for any major tournaments in recent years. I could have sworn something Isotonic would be much more useful, or even a Schweppes soft drink which DuBocq seem to have shamelessly lifted their ideas from.

Agrumbocq is essentially a mix of their Blanche de Namur witbier, and mandarin juice with a hint of grapefruit and lime. Agrum generally refers to ‘the fields’, or ‘the soil’ – not something that springs to mind when considering citrus fruit, but it seemed to work for Schweppes.

On my travels I came across a particular spiritual latin phrase which when translated seemed to perfectly sum up the relationship between Agrumbocq and my 1000 Belgian Beer Odyssey. Per Agrum Ad Sacrum – the Per Agrum (literally through the fields) being the rough unchartered terrain that life entails, and Ad Sacrum (literally out of this world) being the ultimate reward at the end of the pilgrimage. The path to nirvana is often littered with obstacles, and just as my journey to 1000 Belgian beers is going to be rewarded by exceptional tastes and flavours, there are clearly going to be ones that make you wonder why you bothered. It is a common saying in the world, that to meet your prince you have to kiss a few frogs.

The Agrumbocq wasn’t what you might call unpleasant, but then neither is an ice cold glass of Pepsi. The bigger question is can this really be called a beer? I know Tim Webb would be shaking his head at me (#24) but then I took on this journey and I reason you can’t know what’s the best unless you really have tried the worst. I don’t have anything more to say other than it tasted of exactly what it said on the bottle. I only wish I had done some sport before hand and it might have gone down a little quicker.

Leave a comment

Filed under 4, Du Bocq, Fruit Beer

#64 – Deugniet

 

#64 - Deugniet

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 7.5 %

Deugniet tends to have three English translations. Originally this would mean a good-for-nothing, usually it would mean a rascal or a scamp, and occasionally it might mean a knave or a jester. If you look at the label of this beer it becomes fairly evident that Du Bocq almost certainly focussed on the latter.

I chose this beer at the end of my first brewery tour in Belgium. I had previously done a tour of Carlsberg in Copenhagen as a student, but that was more for the free beer than it was for the insight into brewing, although I really needn’t have bothered too much as we ended up on the Flemish/French tour. We thought we might get by as I learnt a bit of French at school, and Tash spoke some Afrikaans, however we may as well have just done the tour in Swahili. I managed to understand some of what was going on using the English pamphlet I was so considerately given, but apart from key words such as ‘biere’, ‘Du Bocq’ and ‘bonjour’ everything else seemed to drift in one vacuous ear and out the other.

If you asked me to sum up the brewing of beer however from what I learnt at the tour, then… Men in white coats choose their ingredients, and then after messing about with the grains, they boil everything up in these big copper funnels in a very pretty rural set of buildings. After a while – probably an hour or two – the residue is left to filter and then the men in white coats add hops and spices in big vats for cooling and more filtering. After a number of rickety staircases, the porridgy mixture is transferred to another bigger vat where it is left to ferment (and stink the place out) for about a week. The resultant beer is then left to condition, and in the case of these bottled beers further conditioned in bottles by adding yeast. Once they are ready they end up in the conveyor belt room, which looks like something out of a Willy Wonka film, and the labels and bottles end up in crates on a fork-lift truck. In the case of todays visit, this was St Feuillien Blonde (#29) which DuBocq brews on behalf of St. Feuillien most of the time.

I did get the time to ask a few questions in the Brewery Tap at the end as I tucked into my Deugniet which I will share another time (#210), but now for the beer itself. Served in the appropriate glass, it was cool, golden blonde and high in carbonation. It immediately slaked my thirst from walking round confused for an hour and certainly had a bit of kick to it. There were some hop flavours, but I really couldn’t put my finger on any others. A run of the mill blonde I would say, from a run of the mill brewery.

Leave a comment

Filed under 6, Abbey Tripel, Du Bocq

#63 – La Gauloise Brune

La Gauloise Brune

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 8.1 %

My second beer in the Purnode campsite was another local brew from just across the way – La Gauloise Brune. This is a beer that celebrates the many Gallo-Roman sites in the locality, and which when first brewed back in 1858 by Du Bocq, attempted to recreate how those residents of ancient Gaul would have brewed beer. The strapline of the beer echoes this – ‘La biere de nos ancetres’. These ancestors funnily enough were known as Gauls.

Gaul is the historic name used by the Roman Empire to refer to the region of Western Europe that was what is now largely France and Belgium. In fact, Julius Caesar went as far as to break Gaul down further into three distinct ethnic groups – The Aquitani in the south west, the Celts in the middle, and the Belgae in the north between the Rhine and the Seine.

Gaul was eventually conquered by the Romans during the Gallic wars, where at least a million people died, and a further million were enslaved (totalling almost a half of the entire Gallic population). three hundred tribes were subjugated, and eight hundred cities destroyed. The tribes never really had a chance to be fair, as more often than not they were fighting amongst themselves, even when Julius Caesar became the common enemy. Their principal religion tended to be animism, in which animals were worshipped, and they tended to follow the political inclinations of the Druids, who had particularly strong beliefs in not recording the Celtic wisdom and literature into writing. It is often said that this is the reason the language of the Celts has virtually disappeared without trace except for parts of Brittany. For anybody seeking further information on the Gauls I would suggest reading Asterix. From what I have read on Gaul so far, it remains remarkably coherent in its portrayal of life at this time.

I was served the beer in a cracking little tankard with the newer logo on it, and after pouring I held it up to the light, to see a chestnut brown infused with ruby red. It looked the business, especially with its sepia head remaining pert on top. The aroma was intensely malty, and the taste was smooth and strong, echoing even more maltiness. It was a pleasant drink right to the end, but just didn’t go far enough to earn a better rating. Anyway, it has inspired me to go back and read Asterix, which of course I will do once I finish Tintin.

Leave a comment

Filed under 7, Abbey Dubbel, Du Bocq

#58 – Cuvee li Crochon Blonde

 

#58 - Cuvee li Crochon Blonde

 

Size: 250 ml

ABV: 6.8 %

My final blonde of the night was Cuvee li Crochon Blonde – a little beer with a funky label, and another one from Couvin. The website which gives some information on the heritage of the beers identifies the Couvin warehouse as one of only a few in the area that actually stock this beer, thus this and its sister brown beer may be one of the rarer ones tried so far.

It is worth starting with the regionality mentioned above and the Onhaye municipality which has a population of only about 5000 inhabitants. It may be a tiny place, but it is proud of its beautiful Ardennes location (only 5km west of Dinant); so much so that in 1982 the ‘La Confrerie Li Crochon’ was founded. This Brotherhood of Li Crochon, as it translates, was set up to promote tourism in this area mainly based around local cuisine. Li Crochon is not the heron on the label, which I immediately assumed on drinking, but actually a symbolic dish of the region, which refers to the end slices of a loaf of bread, which are spread with local cheese and then roasted over a wood fire. By god that sounds delicious!

A modernised version of this dish tends to refer to a hollowed out bun, which is topped with cheese, ham and cream and baked in the oven. It must be good if they set up a brotherhood to look after it and then brewed a beer to accompany it. The brewing is now carried out by Du Bocq, but previously a couple of local brasseries began the tradition of finding a perfect beer for the dish. I must confess I am not sure they did a particularly good job. I found this blonde easily the most disappointing of the night. It neither fizzed or popped on opening, and once poured looked almost green in the light, and anaemic. It smelt of nothing in particular and tasted watery and weak. I had only reserved scores of below 5 for poor fruit beers and the truly disgusting but this moribund effort sadly didn’t make the grade. I just hope the dish Li Crochon is better or they may as well sack the Brotherhood.

(Post-Script) – At least the Cuvee li Crochon Brune was a lot better (#136).

1 Comment

Filed under 4, Belgian Ale, Du Bocq, Heron

#35 – Corsendonk Pater

#35 - Corsendonk Pater

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 7.5 %

I have already been impressed with the Corsendonk Agnus Tripel (#4), and now it was time for the dark Pater. We already know from the earlier drink about the history of the Priory in Turnhout, but Corsendonk beers are also something of a rarity in the Belgian pantheon in that they are brewed to comply with the ‘Reinheitsgebot’ – the strict German beer code which allows only barley, hops, water and yeast to be used in the construction of the beer. The original ‘Reinheitsgebot’ – meaning ‘law of purity’ originated in Ingolstadt in Bavaria in 1516, although had been applied previously in the late 1400s. The law has since been repealed, although only in 1987 but many brewers in Germany still claim to adhere strictly to it.

The original ruling only allowed barley, hops and water, but following the introduction of yeast in the 1800s, this was added. There were three main reasons for the ruling. Firstly to prevent inferior methods of preserving a beer, as hops were much more effective than stinging nettles, henbane and in some cases, soot! The second was that by restricting brewers to barley, it would prevent price wars with bakers over wheat and rye and thus ensure a higher quality of affordable bread for the populace. The final reason was largely financial with part of the rule decreeing that the beer could never be sold above a set price – originally 1 to 2 Pfennigs.

Considering the proliferation of high quality wheat beers now in Bavarian Germany, it is likely that the law perhaps raised the stakes eventually for beer in the region. Corsendonk of course only follow ‘Reinheitsgebot’ for marketing purposes, but in a world that is becoming more eager to pollute with sugars and syrups this is something of a healthy diversion.

Struggling back from illness this beer had been sitting waiting. The appearance was solid and dark, and the smell malty and quite potent. Although the head thinned rapidly, the effervescent brown brew was malty and hoppy with some treacle – a little like the Het Kapittel Pater (#2) but slightly more distinguished and effervescent. Wanted perhaps just a little more mystery – although not bad with the limited ingredients.

2 Comments

Filed under 7, Abbey Beer, Abbey Dubbel, Du Bocq