Keeping it real … Real Ale
It only takes a few minutes looking at this blog or twitter to see that I am huge fan of Belgium! I visited a few years ago and I was instantly hooked, on my return I needed to satisfy my Belgium fix and looked into where I can enjoy Belgian beer around London. I soon found the Dovetail in Farringdon, a small very authentic Belgian cafe with a great selection of some of Belgium’s finest beers on draught and bottle. I signed up to their news letter and had many a great evening in the Dovetail and their other pub The Dove in Broadway Market.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I receive an email from The Dove inviting me to celebrate Belgian National Day Monday 21st July. I was there with bells on! Not only was I excited at the invite I was double excited as for the first time in what feels like months my other half was off work on a rare day off and was able to join me to celebrate the independence of Belgium.
We arrived at the Dove in Broadway Market on a boiling muggy Monday evening to be greeted at the bar and shown around to the back room in the restaurant half of the pub. On our table was a sheet of paper of the evenings plan and we were served at our table by the very polite and knowledgeable staff. A huge thanks goes to them because they were great all night long and really did know their beer facts. The lay out for the evening was in three parts, regional beers to start, something special in the middle and finishing off with Trappist tradition.
First up with were introduced to Lindemans Cuvee Rene Lambic beer, funnily enough a beer I had in the Dovetail a month or so back. A great example of the traditional Belgian blending techniques resulting in a lip smacking tart sour beer, which at the moments is blowing up in London with many breweries trying to replicate. To go along side this beer was some mussels in a white wine cream sauce, chips, bread and of course mayonnaise! I have eaten in the Dove before and hats off to their chef as every time I have eaten there it’s been amazing! The mussels were huge and really tasty and most importantly the Lindemans Cuvee complimented the food perfectly, the best food matching I have had which was surprising as the Cuvee is such a required taste. Next up in the regional beers we had an example of a cherry beer with Boon Kriek, it was nice and sweet and one of the best examples of a Belgian cherry beer however I personally don’t go out my way to have them. Rodenbach was also part of the regional section, a beer I really like with its sour, vinegar, balsamic flavours. But the stand out beer of the section (and the entire evening) was St Fueillien Saison, outstanding! I love a saison but this one is a perfect example of these excellent beers originating from the farmers fields of Belgium. Belgian yeasts with a bitter finish invade your taste buds!
The second serving of food was some Thai finger buffet style food, which was incredible, the salmon fish cakes was amazing, crisp vegetable rolls and juicy satay chicken, I really recommend anyone to eat in the Dove you will not be disappointed! The middle section excited me, three beers I had never tried before. First up Duvel triple hop 2014, this year’s version of Duvel with a new hop added every year. This year was the American hop mosaic, which gave it a tropical fruit bitter finish, very nice and a little stronger than the usual Duvel at 9.5%. Next up was a beer I had previously read about in Belgian beer and food magazine, The Huygue Brewery with their beer Deleria, a beer produced by female brewers for national female day. Similar to delirium but with a floral scent, this beer however tastes it strength which is odd with Belgian beers as usually I don’t feel they taste high in percentage. Last of the specials we was treated to a brand new beer from.The Huygue Brewery Abbey Averbode a beer which has been made in collaboration of the Norbertine Averbode Monastry, Belgium’s biggest producer of paper! Like a few other breweries The Huygue has teamed up with the abbey using its name and status and all profit is given back to the abbey to help with any costs for the abbey itself etc. Along side these beers we had some incredible cheese! One was a Kwak cheese and the other was triple Karmeliet cheese and both were perfect, no doubt I will be looking out for them in September to bring back from Brussels!
Last section was one all beer geeks are familiar with, Trappist beers! Although we were celebrating the independence of Belgium from The Netherlands we started off with a Dutch Trappist beer La Trappe wit, one of my favourite wheat beers and it took me right back to Veere where I first tried it on draught! Interestingly I was told that it doesn’t use the usual wheat beer spices and the taste is all hops, so this is a great example at what you can really do with different hops. Along side a whole load of Belgian chocolates we had a St Bernardus at 12 and the classic Rochefort 6, two beers that needs no explanation as they are two incredible beers just go out and find them!
It was a lovely evening and we both enjoyed it very much. There was a few guys from Cave Direct there as well to talk through the beers and chat. It was a small group of us but we chatted till late and shared stories of our trips to Belgium over a few more beers!
A huge thank you goes to Paul and his team at The Dove for putting on such a great night and I advise anyone who likes their beers to make a trip to both the Dove and the Dovetail soon!