Keeping it real … Real Ale
My passion for good beer really went to obsessive levels when I first went to Belgium. I always enjoyed great British ales from a younger age and even though I did drink and like Belgian beers that were available in the UK it didn’t compare to that first La Chouffe I had in Brussels. Sitting in a classic Belgian Cafe slowly sipping a strong Trappist beer is my idea of pure relaxation. So when I was contacted by BelgiBeer to review their online subscription I jumped at the chance.
Although I love Belgian beers due to my awful attempts of speaking or reading French and Flemish my knowledge is fairly small when it comes to breweries and who brews which beer. There has been times when I didn’t realise two different beers are brewed by the same people! Maybe this is also a result of some Belgian big beers focusing on the name of the beer rather than the brewery.
BelgiBeer hopes to make people aware of the great Craft Beer being brewed in Belgium. Each month they are sending boxes out containing 8 beers from a single brewery, along with a booklet of information about the brewery and its history. You can also add glasses and snacks to your order.
The whole box was packed and present beautifully when it arrived from over seas. No worries about smashed bottles with this packaging at all.
The booklet that comes with the box is very good. There is info about the featured brewery along with tasting notes provided by Father Drunk Munk! All the information on the history of the brewery is a great idea, it brings the whole box together as a discovery experience not just an online subscription box. There is information for those who want to take their discovery to the next level too, as it features directions to go visit the brewery yourself and all its local attractions too.
This months the beer sent to me was Abbay des Rocs who are based in the Hainaut Provence. Its a great box for me personally as I have never had their beers before. The brewery brews their beers from natural spring water with no added sugar or chemicals at all. The brewery is found in an area known as the “Green Lung”. The brewery preserves the integrity of the land, water and air yet sits in the middle of an industrial area, hence the area getting the “Green Lung” nickname. Abbaye des Rocs is Belgium’s first microbrewery, opening in 1979. Strangely the Provencal government limited the brewery to small batch brewing, however this actually suited the brewer Jean-Pierre.
The four beers featured in the box were Blanche Des Honnelle a double wheat beer, La Montagnarde a 9% Amber beer, Abbaye Des Rocs a 9% Brune and Abbaye Des Rocs Blonde aka “La Nounette”.
The Blanche Des Honnelle was quite amber for a wheat beer and wasn’t strong on those usual Belgian wheat beer flavours, it was fairly bitter too for a wheat beer but very enjoyable.
Abbaye Des Rocs Blonde had a tonne of sediment in the bottle, I know those Belgians enjoy their sediment but when I opened the bottle the sediment just flew through the bottle, making the beer very murky. It had an aroma of vanilla and was slightly tart. It was rich beer and almost had a wine like feel to it. Very different to a lot of Blonde beers I have had before.
La Montagnarde is a sweet malt beer, but the sweetness isn’t from added sugar as this is not the way Abbaye De Rocs do things. Big on caramel in the aroma and taste. Also quite a meaty aroma. Spicy flavours along with dark fruits. Slightly metallic finish and very boozy! This is a beer I sat back and shared with Michelle (who really enjoyed it too) and enjoyed some TV, very relaxing.
Abbaye Des Rocs Brune is a double fermented beer with seven different malts. Taking the namesake of the brewery this beer is their highest flyer. This bottle for me was very lively and part of it ended up on the kitchen floor! Aromas of toasted bread. Sweet and slightly bitter this brune is slightly unusual compared to other brunes I have had before. There is an almost smoky mouth feel at the end of the sips.
The beers were interesting, some very different to what I was used to from beers from Belgium. The pick of the bunch was without doubt La Montagnarde. After drinking all the beers I truly got a feel for the brewery and what they were about.
I really like the whole concept of one brewery per month and not just random Belgian beers that you just drink and maybe not think about. It is unique way of doing an online subscription. Featuring an entire brewery each month, with lots of info on the brewery and its range of beers will no doubt help Belgian Craft Beer grow too. It was a great box for new beer fans and hardcore fans like myself to explore and discovery Belgian Craft Beer. There is a real feel of support with these boxes, not only are they a company providing these boxes but they are also supporting the breweries and helping them get their name known in the beer world.
I was that impressed with it that I signed up myself! You can also sign up by visiting their website here. There is a few different monthly plans depending on how long you wish to sign up for, including 12 month subscription which works out at very reasonable £21 per month (plus £3 PnP). If you get in quick you can also sign up to the Christmas (you can even download your Christmas card directly from the website!) or New Years Eve pack!
*Disclaimer – I was sent this box of beer for free to review but this hasn’t effected my own personal opinion on the beer or BelgiBeer service.