Anderlecht: Brasserie Cantillion

Of course, the Euro-beercation would not have been complete without a trip to the motherboard. After taking a cozy (but pricey!) train ride to Brussels, I walked over to Cantillion, which was surprisingly close. The brewery blended right into the street of quaint little boxes, portraying a sort of humbleness and authenticity that you immediately fell in love with. 

As I walked through the door, I spotted a man at a podium nearby. With a quick, "Parlez vous anglais?" I was redirected to the self-guided English tour. With the free tour comes two free tastings of a choice of three beers. While a few other beers were available to purchase by the glass, most were only available in a 750mL bottle, which had to be opened and drank at the brewery. I suggest bringing friends, or grouping up with strangers to get the most tasting without wasting. 

Lambic straight from the barrel, aged 16 months - This poured a urine-like color, deep yellow and hazy with no head. Aroma was tart, lemon-rind and funk. Taste was funky, wet wood, and apple-esque towards the end, bitter apple. Low carbonation and drying finish. 

Geuze - This was not as tart as the lambic I tasted first. It was cloudier, but still a piss yellow color. Funky smell with some white grape fruity esters. Nice, easy mild tartness. A bit of spice at the end. Lighter bodied, medium carbonation.

Rose de Gambrinus - Deep, clear, pinkish color with hues leaning more towards garnet. A pink head, which dissipated quickly. This had a beautiful aroma of raspberry with a touch of barnyard funk. Tastes bright and slightly sweet at first, then dries out like a wine towards the end. Slightly acidic and effervescent.  

Zwanze 2012 - This pours a light golden clear color and has a thin, white head. Smell is cat piss-esque, kind of tangy. Definitely pick up the subtle rhubarb in the taste, but not sweetened, which was perfect. Well balanced. Tart and drying towards the end. Lighter bodied. 

Fou' Foune - This poured a dark hazy orange with a thick white head. Wow, a big, sweet apricot smell with some underlying funk in the nose. Tart, not overly apricot sweet, like you may assume from the nose. True apricot in the flavor, not candied or artificial. A nice funk takes over, without any astringent or vinegar-like qualities. Probably my favorite beer of the entire trip. Perfectly balanced. 

Lambic Haute Densite - This poured a clear copper/amber color and had no head at all. It smelled like apple baby food and slightly vinegar-like towards the end. Somewhere between sherry vinegar and apple cider vinegar in the taste with slight oakiness. Oxidized. Body was flat and more towards the astringent side. Oddly enough, the more I drank it, the more I liked it. 

Malted chocolate - Their malted chocolate tasted like the wort from a stout! Delicious. I suggest tasting the little malt grains on their own too by picking them off the chocolate. This was a nice snack to pair with the Fou' Foune. 

Though brewing season had just ended when I had visited and many bottles were sold out, I snagged a few Rose de Gambrinus, Geuze and Kriek Lambic Bio to bring home for friends. Like and follow my Facebook Page for updates through out the week on how to win a beer box with one of these 375mL Cantillion bottles, along with other OHL selections. 

Until then, hoppy drinking!

- One Hoppy Lady

Paris: La Fine Mousse

This was my favorite beer spot that I went to in Paris. I went there two nights and loved it both times. The interior had rustic stone walls, wooden stools, some sunken armchairs and tables that stood at the edge of the open building front. There were about 20 taps and a long list of bottles available, including a ton of Cantillon and Tilquin. The lights were dim and the room was dark, like a proper bar, in contrast to Brewberry's bright yellow walls and strong lighting. The environment here was very relaxing. 

Jandrain J Dark Sasion - Brewed with the La Fine Mousse team. This was kind of like a chocolate saison to me. Instead of being fruit forward, it was a light chocolate beer with bitter hops and spice at the end. Lighter bodied.

Tilquin Geuze L'Ancienne 2012/13 - Poured golden orange-y color with a white head, which persisted. The nose was citrusy/lemony. The taste was tart with lemon and orange flavors. Hay flavor was present and the beer ended with a bittering funk. Well carbonated.

Loverbeer For Fan - On my first night here, the bartender was generous and gave us a pour of this from his bottle. So awesome! It poured a hazy coppery orange, with a thin white head. Wow, great funky apricot smell, like rotting apricots. Taste is slightly tart with mild apricot flavors and some barnyard funk. Astringent.

2012 Mariage Parfait - Poured a dark gold. Acetic smell with tropical fruits on the nose, pineapple, mango. Taste had tropical fruits, lemon, white grapefruit, plus some wet, musty, earthy funk. Well carbonated.

Cantillon St. Lamvinus - When I first ordered this, I was told that they were out. However, several minutes later, the bartender reappeared with a bottle, which he had found in their restaurant cellar (Their restaurant is across the street). Made my night! This poured a clear, bright red with darker burgundy hues and a pink tinged head. You could smell the merlot and the tartness on the nose. Pretty tart at first taste. It transformed into tannic/wine-like and woody, then finished with an unexpected musty flavor. Slightly solvent, reminds me of a very specific paint I used in pre-k. I absolutely loved this! 

Trust me, you won't want to miss my next post on Brasserie Cantillon ;) So check back soon!

Until then, hoppy drinking!

- One Hoppy Lady

Paris: Brasserie de la Goutte d'Or

Considered by many to be the first craft brewery in Paris, Brasserie de la Goutte d'Or was a mandatory stop. The brewery is named after the area it resides in (Goutte d'Or, or "drop of gold"), which is considered to be a Sensitive Urban Zone (ZUS). This ZUS consists 35% of immigrants and suffers from a high percentage of unemployment. This was apparent by the unusually high number of men who lined the streets in the afternoon. On the short walk from the subway, I had a slightly uncomfortable feeling being the only woman on the street, as I passed maybe 150 men (Something that any beer-drinking woman traveling through should take note of).

When I arrived at the brewery, I found the door at a cute little corner with a "craft beer" sign in the window and a glass store front. Beer bottles made up the main lighting fixture and there was an artsy wooden counter top, on which their beer samples rested. 

My favorite thing about this brewery is the culture that is infused into it. Being such a new microbrewery in the area, I feel it's extremely wise that they are filling it with regional culture that is immediately noticeable. Though there was no one available to speak in English with me about the brewery or beers at that time, I saw that the beer names all had meanings behind them. La Chapelle is the name of the boulevard that bounds Goutte d'Or in the south. Chateau Rouge? A sub-neighborhood of Goutte d'Or. L'Assomoir? The name of a novel, which takes place in Goutte d'Or and depicts the life of alcoholic workers.

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My favorite of their brews was the 3 Ter, their coffee tripel. Sounds weird, I know. But it worked. It had a very thin white head, which did not persist. The beer itself was a cloudy dark, slightly orange, yellow. The aroma very distinctly smelled of rich coffee. The coffee in the flavor dominated, as well, but leaned towards a sweeter coffee flavor (rather than bitter or coffee ground flavors). Backed by your classic Belgian maltiness and slight spice, I found 3 Ter to be an interesting mixture. 

My second favorite would be L'Assomoir, their imperial stout with ginger. All samples were poured from bottles, but as I arrived rather close to closing, the sample bottle was pretty warm and near its end. I don't feel that I can write a proper review, based on that old bit of beer. However, I brought a bottle home and will write a full review on L'Assomoir as soon as I taste it again. 

I have to give this brewery credit for their very unconventional recipes. Coffee Tripel? Ginger Stout? A Red Chilli Biere de Garde? While some worked better than others, I wonder whether the unusual recipes are in attempt to cater towards the tastes of the African and Algerian populations existing in the area. I always assumed Belgian styles would be more appealing to French tastes, but it's an obvious truth that many of the French still prefer their traditional (and well respected) wine selection. Or are the strange recipes simply a brewer being creative? Either way, I'm curious to see how the Parisian craft beer scene continues to develop in the coming years. What are your thoughts on the Parisian wine v.s. craft beer issue? Let me know in the comments below or check back soon for my next post on Paris! 

Until then, hoppy drinking!

- One Hoppy Lady

Β 

Paris: Brewberry

Cave a Bieres

One of my first destinations in Paris was Brewberry, a craft beer company which had both a bottle shop and a bar right across the street from each other. How convenient! Cave a Bieres, their bottle shop, had a nice selection for an American visitor. The walls were lined with bottles, divided and organized by country of origin. Mikkeler and Toole made up a huge portion of the collection. Cantillion bottles hid on a bottom shelf. Several bottles of Westvleteren were present, as well as American beers, like Almanacs that I can't even find at home.

You are allowed to drink the bottles that you purchase at the shop, which is what I did as I waited for the Brewberry bar to open. 

Tool Velvets are Blue - Saison fermented with blueberries. This poured a red, raspberry color and had a white/pinkish head, which persisted. The nose was amazing on this beer, like blueberry filling. It had a sweet candy smell that reminded me of Christmas for some reason.. A pie from my childhood, maybe? I don't know, but it was lovely. The taste was slightly tart and had some funk to it, like blueberry seeds. 

Buxton/Tool Sky Mountain Sour - Berliner Weissbier. Slightly murky orange-y gold color with a white head. Aroma was sour, very lacto acidic. The taste was sour with lemon zest, white grape sweetness, and had a minerality to it. Body was on the lighter side and well carbonated. 

Westvleteren Blonde - Clear dark straw/golden in color, little head. It smelled strongly like honey. The taste was a combination of that expected bready maltiness and belgian yeast, but with a bitter honey flavor that I quite enjoyed. Medium carbonation.

Bar

Before I knew it, 2 hours had passed and it was opening time for the bar. I crossed the street and entered a bright yellow room with both sitting and standing areas available. I looked up at the chalkboard and was surprised to find Hawaiin Speedway and Pizza Port Chronic on tap. I drank both, then continued on with European beer.

Crimson Bird Raspberry - The aroma was fantastic; a fresh, sour, raspberry smell. However, it was much more mild in taste. Not very raspberry in flavor, nor super funky. It wasn't bad, but the smell had built up an expectation that the taste didn't meet for me.

Crimson Bird Strawberry - An extremely underrated beer! When I went to check this in on my Untappd, I saw that it only had 3 stars. I thought this was crazy, so I went to beeradvocate and ratebeer and saw that it wasn't rated well on either of those sites either. There weren't many reviews, so I'm assuming that those who did review it were comparing it more to your typical, fruit forward saison with a hop finish, since this is categorized as a "saison/farmhouse ale." However, I think those who appreciate funk would be more likely to enjoy this. The color was a murky, pale, peachy-pink and had a thin white head. The smell was super funky in that baby diaper way. The taste was also funky, with underlying hints of moldy strawberry. This was definitely not a fruity or sweet beer, as people may have expected from the name. I had it on draft and brought 3 bottles of it home. 

Tool Black Malt & Body Salts - A delicious black coffee IPA. Obviously, this poured very dark, between very dark brown and black. A tan head persisted. You could smell a strong, bitter coffee and herbal hoppy aroma from the glass. The taste masked the abv with strong chocolate and bitter coffee flavors, blending with some dark stone fruit (black cherries) undertones and ending with a somewhat citrus-esque hop taste.

Darker Side of Sour - Sour Ale. Dark brownish ruby color. Very malty aroma, but the taste was unsweet, like black currant with some light blackberry sourness. Slightly confusing, unrefined, but still pretty enjoyable. 

Check back soon for my next Parisian adventure post! 

Until then, hoppy drinking!

- One Hoppy Lady 

Beer in Berlin

Sorry, guys. I know that it's been a while, but I'm back with plenty of tales from my Euro-beercation. First stop on the trip: Berlin! While a series of unfortunate events led the Eurotrip off to a shortened start in the German capitol, my cousin, Marissa, and I explored as much of the city as we could.

Beer

The first beer I tried was, of course, the first Berliner Weisse I came across: Berliner Kindl Weisse. I ordered it "ein rotes" (a red one) and my cousin ordered "ein grune" (a green one). Unfortunately, these beers came out nearly glowing. The bright neon drinks smelled and tasted very strongly like jolly ranchers. Being someone who doesn't like sweet things to begin with, I was not a fan. It really wasn't a beer at all. The next time I tried it, I asked for the bartender to put only a very little bit of syrup. It was less sweet than the first, but still too sweet. I just barely tasted the essence of beer through it.

The second beer was the classic Berliner Pilsner. Pilsner was the most common type of beer that I found on any German menu, which was expected. However, I didn't foresee that many of the menus would ONLY really offer pilsners, with maybe three other beers on the list. The Berliner Pilsner was very classic, clean and crisp, a popular amongst the natives. Bitburger and Radeburger were some other pilsners I had in Germany. I must say, I'm really not much of a pilsner girl, though I do appreciate it for what it is. While Berliner was my favorite of the pilsners, they all paired well with the local cuisine. The bitter pilsner taste and the clean, crispness cut through a lot of the heavy, salty dishes (schnitzel, salted herring, etc..) that I found myself attracted to. 

The next beer type was schwarzbier. Kostritzer schwarzbier was pleasant. It poured, obviously, near black in color. It smelled roasty and malty. It tasted bready sweet/pumpernickel & malty at first with a bitterness at the end, which balanced it out. The body was on the lighter side of medium and actually was pretty refreshing. I wish I had seen more schwarzbiers on the menus!

The only kolsch I saw was Scion Kolsch, which didn't stand out much to me. I was disappointed because I do like kolsches and hoped to come across some really good ones. 

Bars

Like I said, time was limited and I did not get the chance to really go to "craft beer bars," as there weren't many nearby. There were simply bars that served German beer. Due to plenty of unforeseen circumstances, I did not get to go to some of the places I had wanted to, which were much further away. Next time.

We did get to go to Berliner Republik, a cool restaurant that was set up like a beer stock market. TVs lined the walls around the bar and a timer would count down 30 seconds. At the end of the count down, the screen lit up in red and green, which signaled which beers went up in price and which beers dropped. It was fun trying to get your beer at the cheapest price. The food was also pretty good! 

Notes about Berlin:

  • You can smoke everywhere, including in closed restaurants. Needless to say, tasting beer was difficult in these situations. I recommend sitting outside, if you can.
  • Dogs are allowed in some bars, but it's okay. The dogs in Berlin are weirdly well behaved. They don't even use leashes on the city streets. 
  • Nightlife starts super late. The craft beer bar that I wanted to check out didn't even open until 12am and closed at 8am. I ended up not making it to the bar at that time.. 

Non-Beer Things

  • Berlin Wall
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Maxxim's (lol, checking out the night scene..)

More soon on my beercation in Europe! 

Until then, hoppy drinking! 

- One Hoppy Lady