Tag Archives: Malonne

#92 – Abbaye de Malonne Brune

#92 - Abbaye de Malonne Brune

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 6.3 %

There isn’t much more to be said about the Abbaye de Malonne which I feel I amply covered when introducing the blonde (#14). There is going to come a time when I run out of things to talk about a beer that is as indistinguished as this, but rather than rush off it would be worth taking some time to look at the range of brown beers, and in particular those from Belgium.

It would be easy to look down any supermarket aisle these days and see brown ales as the minority; beer made for the discerning gentlemen only, however historically beer has almost always been brown. This was until the 20th Century when technology started to improve. In fact in Belgium in the 1930s, 80% of beer was brown. I would hazard a guess that these days the variety of brown beer in Belgium would be as low as 25%.

Belgium was world famous for its early brown beers, with varieties such as oak aged browns from Oudenaarde, and Trappist dubbels (#16). As we have already seen in other tales though, the rise of blonde beers and lagers began as these were cheap and simple to make, and the brown beer began to fall in popularity. In fact, one might even argue that was it not commonplace these days for breweries to make a range of beers to satisfy all their customers then there may have been even less around. The quality though of course can be up for question in many of these, where brewers have found simple ways to turn blonde beers to brown with the simple switch of a button.

The above issue does illustrate a pertinent point however; that of brown beers being generally made from similar ingredients. Darker forms of malt, or a higher concentration of caramelised sugars can turn any beer brown, and these are often used as a replacement for hops to attain the preferred degree of bitterness. I have always been a massive fan of the Belgian brown ale, although have been quickly learning on my Odyssey that just because it is brown it does not guarantee quality. I would advocate that the Abbaye de Malonne Brune is a decent example of this.

It was a particularly dark beer, almost stout-like in appearance, although my final impression was that of prune juice. It was silky and soft on the palate, but the flavour never really got going and was particularly limited. Compare this to something like the complexity of a St. Bernardus Abt (#46), and you can understand where this beer sits in the pantheon of brown beers in Belgium – inherently pleasant but distinctly average – although better than the blonde of course.

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Filed under 6, Abbey Beer, Abbey Dubbel, Haacht

#79 – Gribousine Brune de Malonne

#79 - Gribousine Brune de Malonne

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 8 %

The Gribousine Malonne beers are common to the Abbaye de Malonne (#14, #92) range in that they are distributed by the Brasserie de L’Abbaye de Malonne, although they are brewed by the La Binchoise brewery in Binche. While these beers may like to be associated with the purity and sanctity of an Abbey, it simply cannot mask the fact that these are actual homage beers to a legendary witch from Malonne – the one astride her broom on the label.

During the early 1800’s in Malonne, some strange occurrences were afflicting the local population. There were varied reports of cows suddenly being unable to produce any milk, strange nuts growing on trees and plants where previously impossible, and people finding themselves riddled with sudden unfortunate illnesses. The legend goes that an old lady living in a small isolated cottage on the edge of the forest was responsible for casting these bizarre spells on the natives – her name was Gribousine.

The witch, as she was known to all, filled the population with such fear, that the locals would avoid travelling anywhere near her cottage, and instead take diversions on other paths which would often add many miles to their journeys. This everyday routine continued for many years, with more mysterious curses being cast, and Gribousine becoming more and more isolated. Eventually as she grew old and unwell, she came to the local village and sought the help of Father Marchand, the local priest, to rid her of illness and cure her of her loneliness. The priest, along with local warden Francis Joseph Bacq took Gribousine into their care one long and troubled night, and between doses of herbal remedies, they performed a full-scale exorcism. Gribousine was never really accepted by the villagers following this, however the curses and afflictions suddenly abated, and nobody ever reported seeing her ride her broomstick again. The legend though of course has raged on in local history, so much so that they even named a range of beers after her.

The Gribousine Brune de Malonne is a strange one. Sometimes you can drink a beer that has a hint of confectionery, or perhaps an undertone of a drink you once tried as a child. This one however was straight from the Hansel and Gretel fairytale, in that it tasted virtually of a cross between Dr Pepper and Vimto, with the slight taste of beer to keep the adults happy. I can just imagine Gribousine standing on the edge of the forest luring children to her candy cottage with bottles of this stuff. This beer won some International Taste and Quality awards in 2008. I can only assume Gribousine had popped back for a bit of fun !

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Filed under 6, Belgian Strong Ale, La Binchoise