Tag Archives: Pig

#120 – Cochonnette

#120 - Cochonnette

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 9 %

You need to be a bit careful when you try and find out information on this beer – the first website you come across might not be something you particularly want to let your kids stumble upon. I learnt French at school, badly, but haven’t had a lot of opportunity since to hone my skills. When I drank this beer I was safely and surely under the assumption that ‘cochon’ meant some kind of suckling pig, and that a cavorting half naked pig on the label was just a female version – a cochonnette. I didn’t really give it a second thought. The fact that innocent research in my lunch break led me to having to explain to my colleagues that I was not some kind of filth peddlar meant that there had to be more to this beer than first met the eye.

It turns out that the term ‘cochonnette’ is not a particularly flattering one. Vapeur Cochonnette essentially translates into ‘Steam Slut’. Now go back to the pig on the label and look in more detail and you start to get the picture. Although Vapeur started brewing in 1984, it was 1992 when the brewmaster commissioned a local artist to design a label for the Cochonne beer. The result was two different labels, each with a naked pig drying themselves, with just a towel covering their modesty. The ‘Steam bitch’ was born, and although it was risque the public loved it – so much so that all future incarnations of these beers still have the same theme. Over the years, the pigs have worn lingerie, cavorted on bar stools, worn see-through T-shirts and donned saucy uniforms but the sales have rolled in. The Cochonne beer has remained the same, yet reincarnated itself from label to label, picking up the Cochonnette term along the way, and various other marketable guises.

The beer I got hold of was the Cochonnette with the ‘slut’ on the label busting out of what looks like some kind of nurses uniform. It is universally the same beer as the other varieties – a strong spicy amber beer with plenty of herbs and plenty of punch. It didn’t really work for me though. It was trying to do too much and seemed to forget that beer is supposed to be enjoyable. It may just be that too much effort has gone into the marketing and not enough into the beer, although the same allegations could be made at probably 95% of the international beer market today.

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Filed under 6, Belgian Strong Ale, Pig, Vapeur

#88 – Zwijntje

#88 - Zwijntje

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 8.5 %

Everything I need to discuss about Zwijntje is covered on the label. There is a piglet holding a coat of arms, while sitting on a mound of flowers in front of an old windmill. So what exactly does this excerpt from some bizarre hallucination actually represent?

Firstly, we should explain the pig – Zwijntje is the diminutive version of Zwijn, which translated nicely into English means ‘swine’ or ‘pig’. Zwijntje being the diminutive suggests a piglet, or piggy. I wasn’t quite sure why Van Steenberge would create a beer named after a pig and so I did some digging and discovered that the beer was created for the people of Zwijnaarde, a village about 7km from the centre of Ghent. One can only assume that the pig reference is based on the towns name which essentially means “field of pigs”.

The town is identified clearly on the label, with the coat of arms of Zwijnaarde and the windmill in the background, which was built originally in the 18th Century and has been a protected monument in Zwijnaarde since 1945. The village being completely ruralised (although now intersected by the A10/E17 and A14/E40) tends to be illustrated by the flowers and the windmill. There is now a large industrial area on the edge of the town, and a number of scientific companies are based there, with connections to recent innovations in treating swine flu – no doubt something based around this beer.

The beer itself seems to be based on the stable Augustijn brew of the Van Steenberge farm brewery. It is likely according to the back label of the beer that Zwijntje is tweaked from the mother brew rather than directly lifted and copied, although this is common practice at Van Steenberge, with the Augustijn beer.

Whatever the origin though, this is a damn fine beer. It is a rich amber gold colour, which lets you know its strength from the off, and in between hits you with twangs of oranges and honey. In the background, the flavour is maintained with the dry faint sniff of hops. This very much reminded me of Piraat 9 (#15), and is one beer I will seek out again for the summer months, or of course if I desperately need a remedy for swine flu.

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Filed under 8, Belgian Strong Ale, Pig, Van Steenberge