Tag Archives: Van Eecke

#113 – Helleketelbier

#113 - Helleketelbier

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 7 %

I had just tried my first beer from De Bie, and as another one of their beers looked remarkably past its best before date, I thought it might be wise to try another. Where I was reasonably satisfied with the Hellekapelle (#112), I was much less impressed with the Helleketelbier or as it translates into English, the Hell’s Kettle Beer – clearly the cauldron wonderfully depicted on the label.

On first glance you might begin to associate beers from De Bie with witches, broomsticks, fire and brimstone, however many of their other beers seem more closely associated with bees, which is exactly what the name of the brewery translates as. Stef Orbie, (there is a clue in the name somewhere) the chief brewmaster started to brew beer at his farmhouse in Watou in 1992, and eventually converted his property into a fully functioning, yet wholly rustic, brewery. You will have heard of the town of Watou before as this neat little brewery lived just down the road from Van Eecke (#108) and St. Bernardus (#46). Things have moved on since then however, and De Bie moved out of Watou and to nearby Waregem where they have upped the stakes in terms of the quality of the beer produced.

It may have been I had tried one of the older batch as I was not at all impressed with this brew. The pour was my first concern in that the sediment that sunk eerily to the bottom of the glass was definitely green and not unlike mucus. It was so bad in fact that I decided to strain it back into another glass which served only to dilute the gunk into further grimness which in turn diluted into the beer. I let it settle for a while, although am sure this did the beer no favours whatsoever. Once I got round to tasting it I had quite lost the desire. It was largely flat and uninspiring, tasting as if it might have been diluted with water. It was akin to a weak English summer ale, which at 7% I was not expecting. The sediment had caused the beer to cloud, and I struggled gainfully to finish it. Not good at all; although if I see it again, I am prepared to give the newer batch another go.

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Filed under 4, Belgian Ale, Cat, De Bie

#86 – Watou Tripel

#86 - Watou Tripel

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 7.5 %

Watou is a bit of a haven when it comes to beer. If you start to plot breweries on a map of Belgium – which lets face it is a perfect thing to do on a quiet Sunday 😉  – you start to notice a batch of them all concentrated in a quiet area of countryside just north of the French border. Westvleteren, Van Eecke, Struise Brouwers and St. Bernardus are within a stones throw of each other, and each are renowned for the quality of their beers. The latter is based in the small village of Watou for which this beer is named.

The brewery claim that this beer was made for the French, maybe as a compromise for the fact that in 1793 this area was designated to fall within Flanders, as opposed to France. It’s odd because the beer sounds French, although there are villages that ended up in France at the carve-up that sound nailed on Flemish such as Steenvoorde and Winne Zele. It just happened that the geographical location of two rivers meant that it ended up in Belgian hands.

Watou generally translates as “watery area”, a direct reference to the rivers that dominate the locality. It only has a population of around 2000 people, but often the streets are bursting with visitors to the Flanders fields, or to a number of annual festivals that take place in the village and surrounding areas. One of these is a choir festival that takes place in St. Bavo church, the one so beautifully recreated on the label of this beer. The church has been a preserved monument since 1939 and contains the tombs of two of the first counts of Watou. Other visitors come to visit the brewery of St. Bernardus and the famous hop farms of Poperinge.

Local hops are used to make this extremely pleasant medium strength blonde. The bitterness of the hops is played off expertly against the zesty fruity tang which accompanies every sip. To be honest it didn’t start off as a great beer, but it grew with every inch downed. Where it began mellow and indistinctive, it ended alive and buzzing with energy. Rarely does a beer start as a six and end as an eight – though you would expect nothing less from a St. Bernardus.

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Filed under 8, Abbey Tripel, St. Bernardus

#2 – Het Kapittel Pater

 

# 2 - Het Kapittel Pater

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 6 %

OK. I am only on my second beer, but I could have sworn Het Kapittel was a seminal piece of literature by Karl Marx. I stand corrected. Het Kapittel is actually a range of beers brewed by Van Eecke up in the Watou region of Belgium. They took over this brewery in 1862 from what was then the Gouden Leeuw (Golden Lion) brewery.

Het Kapittel roughly translates into English as ‘the Chapter’ and represents the hierarchy of priests in a monastery or abbey, emphasising the importance of monks, monasteries and the like in the history of Belgian beers. In fact throughout Europe, as far back as the 5th Century, monastic communities spread like wildfire, brewing beer, at first for their own consumption, and then for a wider market. Water supplies were often suspect, and so the brewing process meant a more tasty and wholesome drink for the local community. This desire to have ones thirst quenched sums up the Het Kapittel Pater rather aptly, as the Pater refers to the daily drink of choice for the monks while they work. Pater also translates as ‘father’ from Latin, and probably represents a lower rank in the hierarchy of a monastery after a Prior, and Abbot which are 9% and 10% respectively in the Het Kapittel hierarchy.

At 6% this particular beer is a little stronger than regular Paters, however perhaps in a region reknowned for its hop production, the monks preferred something a little more potent. In the case of this beer, those monks are said to have come from Mont des Cats across the French border. The appearance of the beer was dark and coppery – yet not at all unpleasant. In fact it becomes maltier and hoppier, and reminiscent of a good English ale as you continue to quaff. I remain convinced I wouldn’t buy this beer by the case, but it does sweeten near the end, albeit not quite enough to make you desperately want to open another.

(Post-Script) – The Het Kapittel Dubbel (#108) though is definitely one to try and stock up on !

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Filed under 7, Belgian Ale, Van Eecke