Tag Archives: Anheuser Busch

#41 – Leffe Blonde

#41 - Leffe Blonde

Size: 750 ml

ABV: 6.6 %

I already started the story of Leffe (#25), and predictably it didn’t take too long to be able to continue the tale of how she ended up as part of the world’s largest brewery, although I may (dependent on space) leave the rest for the next Leffe beer. Lets see how far we get. Ok, on with the tedious global bullshit.

We left the story on the Artois takeover of 1977. Artois themselves were the second largest brewer in Belgium at the time, and also had a rich history – having been set up in 1366 as Den Horen of Leuven. Sebastien Artois purchased the brewery in 1717 and decided to name it after himself. Meanwhile, back in 1977, and now run by the Spoelberch family, Artois were in direct competition with the largest Belgian brewer Piedboeuf, and the Van Damme family. Piedboeuf themselves had a rich history, having brewed since 1853, and neither wanted to give up the power. The end result was that to avoid the detrimental effects of intense competition, the two families merged in 1987 to form Interbrew, who eventually went on to acquire almost three quarters of the Belgian beer market. Interbrew used the brands of Stella Artois, Leffe, Hoegaarden and Jupiler to spearhead this assault, and went on to acquire numerous other brands and brewers across Europe, including Belle-Vue in 1991.

Interbrew were by now the 4th largest brewer in Europe, although real global ambition soon took hold of them, and they sought to break into the North American market. This was always going to be a tough ask, as Anheuser-Busch and Miller dominated two thirds of the market, but craft beers from Europe were becoming more popular, and Interbrew were in a position to buy out Labatts in 1995 which really put them on the North American map. This was soon followed up by takeovers of Bass and Whitbread in the UK, Becks in Germany, Oranjeboom in the Netherlands, and Peroni in Italy among many many others. Interbrew were suddenly a major force in the world, and the company then set its sights on the very top. But surely that’s another story.

Anyway, Leffe Blonde had begun to grow on me. I was always previously a bigger fan of the brown, but was beginning to appreciate the blonde. I decided to try the 750 ml bottle. The colour was pure golden, with a lacy thin head that sat on a fizzy soup of bubbles. The taste was striking and typical of many abbey blondes but still with that recognisable Leffe taste that despite its availability is annoyingly good. I ended up finishing the whole bottle without sharing, unlike some breweries we have recently mentioned.

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Filed under 7, Abbey Beer, Belgian Ale, InBev (Belgium)

#3 – Bush Ambree

#3 - Bush Ambree

Size: 250 ml

ABV: 12 %

Bush Ambree was the original Bush Beer produced by Dubuisson. From 1933 it was pretty much their only beer until 1991 when the family began to extend their range. This beer is also famous for being the oldest Belgian beer brand on the market, in that the recipe has remained completely unaltered since first brewed over 70 years ago.

It is interesting to note that the name Bush, is the anglicised name for the French Dubuisson. This was due to the desire of the Dubuisson family to produce a beer based on the English barley wines of the time. Stepping back into the present day, it is clearly noticeable in many shops round the world, particularly in the UK that the name has changed to Scaldis. Aside from a potential sexual connotation why would a brewery with such a rich history opt to change their brand to something that sounds more like a Latvian washing detergent?

Essentially it all comes down to corporate greed – the now defunct purveyor of Budweiser, Anheuser Busch decided in 2004 that Bush Beer was too similar in name to their weaker product Busch Beer, and so began a completely uneccessary legal battle against this small Belgian brewery. The minnow of course lost out and thanks to a ruling from the International Court of Arbitration in Paris they were only able to keep the Bush name in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland and Portugal. Elsewhere it must be Scaldis! Petitions and protests were launched all around the beer community but common sense of course did not prevail.

This was another beer drunk in the safety of my own home, from my ever growing collection bought from ‘Beers of Europe’ in Norfolk. I had pretty high hopes for one of the strongest beers in the Belgian catalogue, but despite the initial impressive flavour, I found it didnt really bring anything else of much distinction to the party. By the time the meagre 250ml had been downed I really couldnt think of anything else to say other than that this beer appeared to be little else than an expensive Tennents Super !

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Filed under 6, Belgian Strong Ale, Dubuisson