Tag Archives: Brotherhood

#174 – du Boucanier Dark Ale

#174 - du Boucanier Dark Ale

Size: 330 ml

ABV : 9 %

I had already tried the du Boucanier Red Ale (#27), which dealt with the origins of buccaneering. I won’t go into that again, however it would be good to explore the links between buccaneers and their beer. They certainly didn’t mess around when it came to drinking!

These undesirable pirates of the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean had a tradition of drinking a toast while on the deck of plundered ships or harboursides they may have just overrun. Not content with a nice 330ml tumbler or tulip, buccaneers had an altogether different vessel of choice for their strong seafaring ale – their boots! A sobering thought given the hygiene issues many of these vagabonds would have endured. To drink from the boot of a fellow buccaneer was seen as a symbol of brotherhood and a bond of trust between fellow seafarers. It was known as the custom of being “brothers of the coast”.

Modern day acts of brotherhood often include initiation rituals or the sharing of blood. I would imagine all are preferable to swallowing the verrucas and corns of stinking scurvy ridden sailors. This hasn’t deterred the marketeers of the du Boucanier beers though, who have continued the tradition into the modern day world, and sell glasses shaped as half-litre boots. These can be ordered from their website should anybody wish to indulge.

I opted for a half of the dark ale served somewhat more sedately in a Grimbergen chalice. It was not how I would have envisaged real buccaneer dark beer to be though. Although strong and weighing in at a hefty 9%, this beer didn’t have a lot of guts. It was thin and limp, and lacking in any real definitive robust flavour. I enjoyed it, as I do most Belgian beers, however these leaner dark beers often tend to be ten to the penny on the market, and thus this one gets the boot from me I am afraid.

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Filed under 6, Belgian Strong Ale, Van Steenberge

#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.

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

#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).

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Filed under 4, Belgian Ale, Du Bocq, Heron