Thursday, 26 June 2008

Brussels

Don't ask me why I hadn't been to Brussels for so long. I have no explanation. The EBCU constitution signing/reception was a good excuse to put that right.

Brewers of Europe house, where the event was held, is in the European quarter of Brussels . An area filled with various Commission offices and embassies to the EU. To be honest, it's pretty dismal architecturally. Lots of concrete and glass. One of the few exceptions is the Brewers of Europe gaff, a rather classy old house.

They'd already started on the beer when I arrived. There was certainly plenty of it. Between 70 and 100 different types, is my guess. From several different countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the UK, Holland. Not a bad little beer festival. And it was all free. Exactly the type of beer I like best.

The only formal part of the gathering was the signing of the EBCU constitution. The chair of each of the constituent member organisations put their scribble on the bottom. Fourteen scribbles, to be exact. Each of the 13 member groups got a document, plus one for the EBCU itself. It took a while. But not only were you allowed to take your beer along, you were reminded to do so.

Once that was over, I had a chance to look around the building. It's decorated with some interesting memorabilia. A painting of the City of London Brewery. (It's one of the breweries that shows up in the Truman and Whitbread Gravity Books.) But obviously this poster attracted my attention most. Good to know The Brewers of Europe understand the importance of Barclay Perkins, too.

Being an obsessive, I even took notes on most of the beers I tried. And photographed the bottles. I really am rather sad. Even my fellow geeks were giving me pitying looks. But I need to fill this blog every day. The material doesn't create itself.

As hard as I tried, I couldn't get through all the beers. There were just too many. The most unusual was Diamond Beer, from Trumer of Austria. A vintage wheat beer. An intriguing concept. The concept was good. The beer couldn't quite match it. One for Mike. I've really gone off aged beers since I drank my way through the out-of-date bottles in my beer cellar. Now aged beers always remind me of three year old Alfa Super Dortmunder.

I mostly stuck to Stouts because, well, I could. Wasn't that impressed with the British one (Stoodly Stout from Little Valley), which tasted like slightly dodgy homebrew. Sourish in a not good way. Though that could have been because of the package, which was one of these big tin things. The Danish ones were better. I had a few of those. Kinterkongens Stout from Stevns Bryghus was entertainingly roasty. Hornbeer Russian Imperial Porter was a roasted bridge too far, for me. But I did drink more than one bottle. Knark Imperial Stout from Duellund Bryglade was so nice I brought one home with me.

And a Carlsberg. A Bock from their Semper Ardens series. Brøckhouse Esrum Kloster was another good Dane. Spiced in a very subtle way. I could only pick out aniseed. Laurent Mousson reckoned he could identify a couple of others.

I really liked the treacly-sweet Grand Porter from Polish brewer Amber. Very nice. I limited myself to just one. The Czech beers were all gone by the time I got around to them. Pity.

A special mention for the Saint Croix ESB from Switzerland. Also served from one of those big cans. Citrusy from the simcoes in it, but not overpoweringly bitter. Enjoyable. Even with those evil hops in it.

After 18:00 was the reception. Evidently there were several MEPs there. Can't say that I noticed. But I'm not the most observant. Especially when there's free beer about. That tends to monopolise my attention.

What I still haven't worked out is why I was invited. The others all seemed to be delegates from one of the member organisations or EBCU officials.I was neither, last time I looked. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. Just curious.

8 comments:

Tom Fryer said...

You get all the luck, Ron.

I've found the Stoodley Stout sour too, though this was from a bottle, not a mini-cask. Apparently they put orange peel in it. No idea why - whatever they're trying to do, I don't think it works.

As for mini-casks (the 'big tin things'), a fair few UK brewers (usually small ones) sell them now, though they've never taken off in a big way. I've rather liked most of the beers I've had from them - when the beer inside is live it's a bit closer to a pub pint than your average bottle-conditioned ale. On the other hand, if a beer's rank to begin with, putting it in a mini-cask isn't going to help much.

Alan said...

I have not been able to find a copy of the text of this constitution. Did you happen to nick one of the 14 copies?

Ron Pattinson said...

alan, my tasting notes are written on a copy of the constitution. Not one of the signed copies, obviously.

zythophile said...

City of London - that was the old Nicolson & Tate brewery,in Thames Street by the river, next door to what is now Charing Cross station, and later one of two run by the Calvert family. It's one of the "forgotten" members of the Big 12 London porter brewers (not thast any of them, apart from Whitbread, Truman and, thanks to Ron, B-P are remembered that much).

Laurent Mousson said...

By the way, the offishall name of that St Croix ESB is simply "Trois Dames Ale" q.v. http://www.brasserietroisdames.ch/cms/front_content.php?idcat=28&idart=38

Cheers !

Tandleman said...

I note Mr Mousson's reflection in the mirror!

Ron Pattinson said...

Shhhhh!

Laurent Mousson said...

Yes indeed, that's me in the mirror... but who are the two others, then ? ;o)