Tag Archives: Stella Artois

#152 – Belle-Vue Kriek Extra

#152 - Belle-Vue Kriek Extra

Size: 250 ml

ABV: 4.3 %

There are a whole host of fruit beers on the market that label themselves rather gratuitously. One that had already begun to confuse me was the way that Belle-Vue had two different types of Kriek. One was normal or classique Kriek, weighing in at 5.2%, and then there is the Belle-Vue Kriek Extra at 4.3%. So, if you aren’t getting extra alcohol in your Kriek Extra, what exactly are you getting?

The official website explains that the Extra, is the sweeter, more fruity variety of the traditional Kriek. It is made only with young lambics, with the addition of extra cherries, thus offering extra refreshment and extra sweetness. By that rationale then, one can only assume by adding extra cherries there is less room for alcohol. I was very much enjoying the irony of this (much more than the beer in fact), in that particularly in the US and Great Britain at the moment it seems brewers are offering more choice of beers, in an attempt to curb the latent binge-drinking culture. Stella Artois (#116) now offers a 4% beer, Becks offer the Fier; not to mention all the American Light beers. Only Belgium could offer a reduced alcohol beer and call it Extra!

I would not have normally gone hunting out the Kriek Extra, but I am on a 1000 beer odyssey after all, and as I saw this lying in the fridge at the guesthouse I was staying in, so decided to slump on the bed and refresh myself after the long haul around Bruges. It was I suppose vaguely refreshing, and at least did the job, in that it didn’t send me off to sleep – I was keen to keep myself fresh for the evenings drinking ahead. It poured a crimson red, and my overall analysis would be that this tasted like cherry cordial with the addition of some sparkling water and extra sugar. Considering the Belle-Vue range are made with lambic, I must admit to being fairly disappointed, although many rumours abound with regards to the actual processes that Belle-Vue use nowadays. Perhaps I can save that for the tougher non-Extra.

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Filed under 5, Belle-Vue (InBev), Lambic - Fruit

#9 – Grimbergen Dubbel

#9 - Grimbergen Dubbel

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 6.5 %

In 2007 as previously mentioned (#8), Alken-Maes was a bit-part of the major deal which saw Heineken team up with Carlsberg to usurp British giant Scottish Courage. Heineken effectively then became the worlds second largest brewing company after AB-InBev. The Grimbergen range however does survive just as a tiny flea does in the fleece of its strutting master. In fact, Heineken owns two more Abbey brands of beer in Affligem and Postel and the beer drinking world awaits the fate of these in the face of the dog-eat-dog business world that Heineken et al dominate.

It is fair to say however that Heineken has never been a major player in Belgium. Where the Dutch and British mass market have been quaffing Heineken lager by the hectolitre, the Belgian undiscerners have preferred the equally indistinguishable Jupiler (#192), Stella Artois (#116) or Maes. This may all change though as Heineken is the largest multinational brewery in Europe, and is active in over 170 countries. In 2008 alone she saw 125.8 million hectolitres pass under their umbrella, and at least half of that was sold within the European Union. You may have heard of the following beers which are also Heineken staples – Zywiec, Cruz Campo, Birra Moretti, Murphy’s, and 33 Export. While this is something of a success story for the beer business started by Gerard Heineken in 1864, it is a major worry for small regional breweries who struggle to compete financially. The decline in the numbers of breweries over the last fifty years threatens everything we all love about craft beers. I hope this story isnt a portent of things to come in Belgium.

The Grimbergen Dubbel has rich brown chestnutty hues yet remains clearer and thinner than many other brown beers. With more head than the blonde and a definitively smokey aroma, the taste is surprisingly sweet and uncomplicated, yet very pleasant indeed. As you continue to drink, hints of mushroom leap out at you in a brew that is far too drinkable for a dark/dubbel. With availability in UK supermarkets this beer goes very well in a slow cooker casserole *

* (Post-Script) – this has fast become a favourite meal of mine, whereby recently becoming decadent enough to replace the Grimbergen Dubbel with a couple of Trappistes Rochefort 8 (#31) – a la bloody carte if I say so myself !

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Filed under 7, Abbey Beer, Abbey Dubbel, Alken-Maes, Phoenix

#5 – Judas

#5 - Judas

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 8.5 %

Judas was first brewed in 1986, probably as a Golden Ale that could compete with the highly successful Duvel (#34) beer made by the Moortgat Brewery. The similarities in title, label and goblet are evident. In fact, it is surprising to find the number of beverages of this ilk which refer in some degree to the darker side of the force.

Duvel of course means ‘Devil’ in Flemish, Liefman’s brewery (now sadly defunct) produced the similarly styled Lucifer (#169), and of course there is the De Block brewery who are famous for their Satan Red (#215) and Satan Gold beers. Judas may not directly represent the devil, however the story of Judas Iscariot – one of the 12 disciples of Jesus who betrayed the son of God for 30 pieces of silver – is one that certainly leans towards the more macabre side of the spiritual fence. Certainly in the Gospel of St Luke there is a reference made to the fact that Satan himself enters Judas during the last Supper which might rather diminish the view that the 30 pieces of silver had any significance in the decision to hand Jesus over to Pilate’s soldiers.

The real truth about Judas is one of the most debated topics in modern day Bible school, and much of it depends on what school of thought you have or what book or version of the Bible you read. Either way he played an extremely inauspicious role in the history of Christianity and for that reason finds himself in the pantheon of evil Belgian beers. Quite what this fascination is remains to be told, however if the drippy Stella Artois (#116) can be rightfully labelled ‘Wifebeater’, then perhaps your more potent Belgian craft beers deserve to be associated as more sinister !

In terms of the beer, there was little head and very little sediment, although plenty of bubbles. A fruity aroma accompanied the opening with a strong uncomplicated flavour initially. He was a little coppery, yet fairly drinkable but there was nothing wholly tantalising. I am left unlikely to be a traitor and leave other better beers for this, but beware the strength though – two or three of these may leave you forgetting where you hid the silverware !

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Filed under 7, Alken-Maes, Belgian Strong Ale