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Kim tilbyder et varieret udvalg af smagningstemaer. Lær om stilarter, bryg metoder, indkøbssteder og om øl rejsemål. For mere information kontakt venligst Kim eller klik læs mere.

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Stone Sour Fest 2010

November 22, 2010 by Kim Lund Johansen

July 18th the 4th edition of the Stone Sour Fest took place at their relatively new brewing site, Escondido California. I had the opportunity to participate this year and with 35 mostly American sours to do I had plenty of work cut out for me.

Stone Sour Fest 2010

It was an early Sunday morning when I picked up Jonathan (WeeheavySD from RateBeer) and his friend Liz. Jonathan a local aficionado had helped me out getting a ticket and taken me around town the night before. So to say the least I wasn’t exactly in top form when I drove up north to enter the world of sours.

Arriving exactly 10 AM we entered the fest that this year again took place in the beautiful garden at Stone Brewing Company. Packed with lacto lovers, a fantastic scenery and beer stands it was time to get going. The ticket price included 15 tokens and most beers required one token each. This year Stone had imposed a 15 token maximum for participants. Not the most ideal thing for the experienced visitor but it surely kept things quiet towards the end.

Hot as hell

Even though the locals assured me that the temperature outside wasn’t close to the usual peaks, it was still hot as hell. The garden itself is surrounded by trees and therefore a breeze to cool the visitors down was a rare thing. Stone provided free water and plenty of ice though and inside the air condition was in overdrive. Being Scandinavian and red haired I had quite a tuff time surviving outside so most of my day was spent inside at the Stone bar for a chill. That turned out to be very handy especially after having spent 15 minutes in one of the 5 queues outside.

Stone Brewing’s first Sours

I think I wasn’t the only one that anticipated the brand new Funky Sour from Stone. Having proven their great interest in the world of sours by doing this fest for the 4th consecutive year, it seemed like the natural step for the semi giant craft brewery. The beer poured hazy deep amber with a small off white head. The aroma came out slightly sweet and sour with notes of caramel, roasted malt, dark fruits and lacto bacteria. Flavor had notes of acetone, lacto, bacteria, roasted malt, caramel and dark overripe fruits. It felt like a mix of Belgian strong dark ale and lactic sour ale. Good mix to be honest and a combination I’ve been waiting to try for a long time as it is. 8,3,9,5,17 = 4,2. Stone also presented another sour at the event named Estate Grown Peach Sour. A Sour ale with peaches as the name implies. It felt very young and had some unwanted brewing cereal notes. But sour and dry with hints of peaches. 6,3,6,3,12 = 3,0

Lost Abbey and New Belgium where popular

Even though Lost Abbey and New Belgium where represented with no less than 5 beers each, they were quickly sold out and having previously tried most of The Lost Abbeys and some of the New Belgiums I for one understood the visitor statement. Quality sours from both breweries and the Lost Abbey Framboise de Amorosa was lovely tart with natural raspberries and lacto bacteria. Dry and refined with a solid malt backbone. Good stuff. 7,4,8,4,16 = 3,9

Ballast point Hout Series

The somewhat local brewery Ballast Point was represented by three beers and two of them were from their Hout Series. The first one I tried was the Hout Series - Black Currant. Black currant is a long time love for me so the order of the beers was pretty obvious here. Once again Ballast Point didn’t disappoint me. But this time it wasn’t a massive hop bomb, but a refined sour ale that had plenty of black currants, lacto bacteria, roasted malt and caramel notes. Flavor had plenty of acetone from the lacto bacteria, again lovely black currants, hints of barnyard, wood, roasted malt and caramel. Very tart and dry. Top stuff. 8,4,8,4,16 = 4,0. The next one from Ballast Point was the Hout Series – Gueuze. A fine example of the style, a bit young but still refined. I found it slightly sour with brettonomyces, barnyard, wood and leather. Flavor also had hints of lacto and it was sour and dry. 7,3,7,3,14 = 3,4. The third one from the San Diego guys was a beer named Sour Wench Blackberry Ale. It lacked some of the power the Hout Series beers had and for me a bit average I’m afraid. Poured deep red with a pinkish head. It had black berries, hay, wood and a semi dry mouth feeling. 6,3,6,2,12 = 2,9.

Stone as a venue

One of the nice things about attending a beer event like this at Stone is the great availability of quality food. I enjoyed a great lunch and when things had quiet down a delicious dinner among good friends. Something many events throughout the world must envy them for. There are no doubt about Stone’s facilities being great and their many knowledgeable employees know how to host such an event. I’m sure they will perfect this event to even greater heights over the years to come and if the general picture of thee beers will follow, then this event will be outstanding.

The verdict

There is no doubt about it, Sour ales are THE thing these days in the US and this fest proved it. The event was massively attended and the knowledge within the crowd was quite high. The local passion is sky high and that’s what you need to keep a narrow scene like this going.

Only a few of the beers will probably be remembered as classics but all in all the standard was very good. We all know that brewing sours is a waiting game and a fair share of the beers were a bit young to be honest. It will be very interesting to see how far the Americans can push the limit when it comes to sours and I for one will be following the process with great interest. Will I return? No doubt about it!



Drinking Lambic in Rome

August 9, 2010 by Kim Lund Johansen

One might have thought that RBESG 2010 in Rome would turn out to be a long tiresome walk in the dessert. But all such speculations where put to shame when Rome unveiled it’s top spots for the RateBeer crew in June.

Early June this year I had the pleasure of doing Rome together with 20 or so of my colleagues from RateBeer. Alex the charismatic owner from Brasserie 4:20 organized the event and without revealing to much at this point, the RateBeer European Summer Gathering 2010 edt. turned out to be a bit of a surprise.

This year it took place 3rd – 6th of June. We obviously did the usual stuff like pub crawling, tastings, food pairing and so on. But who would have expected to do just that in Rome of all places? I for one had picked up a rumor or two about the scene and it's qualities. But what we in fact experienced was a varied scene and much greater than I ever would have expected.

Brasserie 4:20

So what made it so good? Well as a start we found several places combining fine Cuisine with a mind blowing beer selection and as an example of that we hit Brasserie 4:20. From what I was told Alex’s place had a lovely food selection with plenty of fresh fish (I don’t eat fish). Paired with Lambic, plenty of big beers on draft and in bottle and many other fine examples from the modern part of the industry, made it a fantastic spot. It wasn't all though because 4:20 had an exquisit scenery. 4:20 is housed within an old train building and the old curves in the sealing, the rough brick walls and the cozy lights made it charming as hell. Now that was all downstairs and on top of the old building I found a beautiful roof terrace with close to a 100 seats and a second bar. Sitting up there in the night time was absolutely sublime. The atmosphere, the youngsters enjoying big beers, lambic and classics nearly made an old timer weep. Combined with the awesome service made 4:20 an outstanding spot for the passionate Beer Connoisseur.

Brasserie 4:20Just like Revelation Cat (4:20 house brewery) had dry hopped straight lambics from Girardin for the Copenhagen beer fest, they had done pretty much the same thing when we visited Rome. This time though with more focus on the noble hops and the lambic was brought in from 3 Fonteinen. Unlike the American hops the traditional European hops complimented the lambics in a refined way without being to dominating and in some cases actually made the lambic slightly better. The Styrian version made it for me with a nice fruity touch. 7,3,8,4,15 = 3,7.

The Italian Beer Scene

Having spent the first night at Brasserie 4:20 with the top class foreign beers, it was time to dig into the local brewing industry Friday morning. A shop crawl with four stops on the way definitely got us more familiar. One of the reasons was the Italian shops setup that made it possible to drink the bottles on the premises. Most of them actually had a bar like thing going on and it was apparently quite normal to have a few during the evening. That made the shops a heaven for the European high rollers.

The Italian beers where for the most part heavily inspired by the Belgian scene. Plenty of residual yeast and sweetness where common things. A large part of the Italian beers were somewhat messy but not without potential. Having said that they weren’t all like that and Toccalmatto was a nice oasis among the Belgian Inspired Italian micros. Quite a few of them where heavily hopped and the majority had quite a bit of American influence. Toccalmatto was the Italian brewery that made it for me and many others on this trip.

Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà (The Football Pub) and Bir & Fud

Ma Che Siete Venuti a FàAfter the shop crawl we were bound for the Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà, often referred to as the Football Pub. Just like Alex from 4:20, Manuelle Colonna, the owner the place, is a common face at many European beer festivals which is most likely one of the secrets behind their success and their top spot on RateBeer. Inspiration and plenty of it. Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà, meaning “What the fuck are you doing here”, was a small charming place in two levels. Plenty of football memorabilia made the walls and while the selection on 4:20 for the most part was imports, this place had both Italian micros and classics from Cantillon on draft. I had Lou Pepe Kriek and later on Vigneronne. Both quite stunning. Even though I’ve had most of the lambics present on the globe, it’s a rare sight to experience lambics on draft in the so called great beer city Copenhagen. Therefore it was a great thing to experience lambics on draft both on 4:20 and the Football Pub. Fantastic stuff. Great atmosphere all around and lovely beers.

Apart from the pub Manuelle also co owns a pizza place across the street called Bi & Fud. Excellent pizzas may I add and to compliment them they had a splendid draft selection with focus on the local craft brewers.

Open Baladin

The third day we had lunch at Open Baladin. A modern style outlet featuring a long list of Baladin brews and average food. Again most of the Baladin’s had a Belgian influence but some of them where drinkable. I heard some rumors about infections being the common thing and speculations pointed out missing cleaning of the pipes as a likely cause. A pity really because the place and the location deserved more to be honest.

Domus Birrae & Toccalmatto

Later on we also stopped by the beer shop Domus Birrae that featured the best domestic selection by a mile. Owned by Manuelle Colonna and his partner Alex who also is Manuelle’s partner at Bir & Fud this place didn't disappoint. With a selection of 300+ Italian micros this shop has the largest Italian Micro selection in Rome by far. Very knowledgeable staff, friendly interior and good space. A very good place all around.

ToccalmattoNow we also stopped by for another reason, a new beer from Toccalmatto premiered and the place was packed with aficionados, geeks and hang rounds. As previously mentioned Toccalmatto is one of the top breweries in Italy and perhaps the best to be honest. The heavily US inspired brewery once again stood out from the crowd with the solid hopped golden ale, Toccalmatto Grooving Hop.



The Grand Tasting

Sunday it was time for the traditional Grand Tasting and once again Alex proved himself as a fantastic generous host by hosting the event at his old Wynyard. The big hall of the place featured a long rather inferior homemade table. That didn’t spoil the fun and beside it was a big table packed with homemade food. Loads of meat from the grill, lovely sausages, cheese and bread. Alex had hired a handful of guys to take care of us and that’s exactly what they did.

The time on the Wynyard gave us the chance to check Alex’s stash out. In a long former wine cellar thousands of bottles met the eye and what a sight it was. Loads of Lambic, Belgian classics and so on. I saw quite a few leaving the cellar drooling.

The tasting itself featured plenty of great beers and the company and spirit is always great at these events. Another cracker to say the least. After the tasting we were offered to take a couple of bottles from Alex’s warehouse for the bus ride. Menno, the brewer from De Molen, saw his opportunity here and opened a keg of his lovely 666 Imperial Stout. After a bar stop and the mandatory 4:20 visit for some leisure drinking the event was all history. Yet another great RBESG had come to an end.



Fresh hops and lambic

May 9, 2010 by Kim Lund Johansen

What might be a good idea in theory is not allways a winner realistically. We all like fresh Ammarillo in our IPA. But does it fit in a lambic?

Fresh hops and lambicThe Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation in Buggenhout Belgium is coming up and that brings back memories of a visit back in 2008. I remember that one of the beers that I especially looked forward to was the Cantillon Lambik Amarillo. Amarillo is a quite distinctive grapefruit and floral aroma hop which has been widely used in the American style India Pale Ale. I do like a nice dry and fruity IPA and I think I expected the grapefruit aroma to fit in quite well with the Jonge Lambik from the Cantillon.

Now I remember that the first sniff of it came out kind of strange. The funky barnyard and the Amarillo fought against each other and I soon found out just why the old masters use aged hops. In fact the strong scent of hops had polluted the high end product and notes like rubber and floral hops did not fit in.

Revelation CatWe have just seen the end of the Copenhagen beer fest and one of the more exotic entries in the program was a single hop Lambic series from Revelation Cat, Rome. Five lambics based upon young Girardin dry hopped with Amarillo, Aurora, Nelson Sauvin, Saaz and Simcoe. Tasting them brought back memories of the Cantillon Amarillo and just like that one the fresh hops didn’t make the product any bit better. In fact for the most part it worsened the base product from Girardin.

Now call me an old timer but I think we have now verified it, fresh hops and lambic is not a good idea. It might work out in theory, but in real life it’s not worth the effort.



New Gueuze blender - Pierre Tilquin

April 27, 2010 by Kim Lund Johansen

A stone's throw away from Pajottenland in Wallonia, a young man named Pierre Tilquin has created a new Gueuze blendery. When I did Zythos in March I had the pleasure of meeting Pierre for a chat about his production and making a dream come true.

Pierre TilquinWhen I visited Belgium in early march I made the mandatory visits to my friend Jean Moeders new place Moeder Lambic Fontainas. On my third visit Jean introduced me to a new player in the game. Piere Tilquin, a young man from Wallonia and founder of Gueuzerie Tilquin.

Now an opening of a new Stekerij (blendery) is not an everyday thing. In fact we haven't seen a new producer since De Cam started their blendery. While I sipped a glass of 3 Fonteinen Hommage, Pierre told me about his background. Having previously worked as a brewer at Huyghe, 3 Fonteinen and Cantillon he felt it was time to move on and make his dream come true. Start a Gueuze blendery.

Last year Pierre founded Gueuzeri Tilquin s.a. residing in Rebecq. It's a small warehouse where more than 200 barrels is put into use. The barrels are former wine barrels from Bordeaux with a capacity of 400 liter. They contain lambic from Lindemans, Cantillon, Boon and Girardin. Cantillon lambic used for Gueuze outside the brewery is quite a rare sight so it will be interesting to see how the character of the blend will be.

Pirre Tilquin examins the lambic With a pedigree like that it's hard to see how it would go wrong and the first bottle of Gueuze is expected to hit the market in June 2011. Pierre expects to produce up to 500 hl / year and the first year is expected to yield 200 hl.

We all know how costly it is to start a Gueuze production. It's a waiting game and when I asked Pierre about that exact challenge he responded "It's my life and a dream coming true. A very expensive one". Well I for one anticipate the final product with great interest.



The Lambic Renaissance

April 21, 2010 by Kim Lund Johansen

The existence of lambic seemed threatened a few years back. With very little change the last handful of decades we have all feared that it was about to run out. Nowadays though, a new Gueuze blender is on his way and in the big beer cities like New York, London and Copenhagen it's more than hot. Prices in Belgium are stil ridiculously low while people abroad seem willing to pay far higher prices. So how does the future for lambics look like in a modern world?

Timmermans bottleWhile lambic is a given amongst beer aficionados the lambic producers from the payotenland face a tough market where the locals hardly know of their existence and the ones that actually do, are not willing to pay more than a couple of Euros for a superb bottle of lambic. Tim Webb started the discussion about that very same problem a couple of years ago @ The Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation. Suggesting that a focus on abroad markets could be the survival of lambic as we know it today. Because what we are seeing in cities like New York, London and Copenhagen is a big interest for traditional lambics and more important, the consumers seems willing to pay the price.

Now that's quite different from what some of the lambic producers once thought there would be a demand for. In fact the lambics from Timmermans, Lindemans and the obscure series from De Troch where seriously sweetened before they went to the US. Apparently the producers didn't believe that the original products like Oude Gueuze and Oude Kriek would be appreciated by the Americans.

These days it seems like we have reached a turning point. Because apart from the rising demand abroad we have seen a change in lambics coming out from commercialized lambic producers. Last year Timmermans released an Oude Gueuze and an Oude Kriek. Both with very nice results as well. When Frank Boon brought the Mariage Parfait Kriek back on the market last year and the traditional blender Hanssens put out a Cassis and a Framboos it was very much driven by the US market.

Glass of LambicSo it seems like there is a movement towards the original style and some of it is driven from abroad. On top of the rising interest from outside the Senne Valley, producers from abroad have taken up the fine art of brewing lambic. In the US, Scandinavia and Italy we have already seen the results from several breweries and even more is on it's way. Adding it all up it seems like that what was on the edge of disappearing is on it's way back to its former strength from the past. So I guess Tim Webb was on track when he encouraged the Senne Valley producers to focus on export markets. Cause with locals that are not really as keen to pay the price as people from abroad the challenge is clear and it seems like the producers are facing it in the right way. All in all it looks like the demand and awareness abroad have brought out a Lambic Renaissance.


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