Erik's Highlights: Boon, Rochefort & Averbode
Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2013-07-20 15:17:47 +0200 / Last Updated: over 4 years ago
SCHOTEN - Our BeerTourism Editor-in-Chief Erik Verdonck has been unselfishly travelling thousands of kilometres across the Belgian beer landscape in order to capture what's happening in the beer and taste capital of the world.
Starting this week he will be giving our readers regular updates (Erik's Highlights), of where his journeys take him as well as the the people he meets along his never ending Belgian beer trail.
An Expert's Opinion
It is the peak of summer and once again the week has flown by. My week started with a fine glass of genuine old kriek topped with a lovely layer of purple-pink froth. “The colour comes from the fruit,” brewer Frank Boon tells me. I recognise the colour of our home-made jam. Not everyone is used to these vivid colourings and some even suspect the brewer of adding colour to his beer.
And the taste, the taste... slighly sour and totally delicious. I discover that the term ‘Schaarbeekse krieken’ refers to the market in this town, part of Brussels, rather than to a specific variety of kriek.
These 'krieken', or Morello cherries, now mainly come from Eastern Europe. Oude kriek is made by steeping 300g of cherries in 1 litre of the base beer, oude lambiek. The kriek will then continue to ferment in the bottle.
The lambiek is stored in oak barrels and the brewery has a storage area with over 100 foeders, or barrels, stored lying down. Each has an average capacity of 8,000 litres.
Over the years, these foeders were purchased from brewers and wine makers throughout Europe. Mature oak is the only type of wood used as young oak contains too much tannin to be suitable for beer. The oak allows just enough oxygen to penetrate the barrel for the development of the wild yeasts.
Each 'foeder', filled to the brim, has its own character and thus contributes to the taste in its own specific way. Properly brewed kriek is ready to drink six months after bottling and can be kept for 20 years or more. “The wild yeasts contribute to aging in the bottle,” Frank Boon assures.
The press has very recently reported a clash between cash and heritage. Multinational company Lhoist works the limestone quarries near the abbey of Rochefort, Notre-Dame de St-Rémy. This abbey brews a Trappist ale using the hard water from the Tridaine spring.
Quarrying is now putting the existence of the spring in danger say the monks. If the company gets its way, the monks will have to go further afield to source the water for their Trappist beer as their original well may run dry as a result of the quarrying.
The current situation is that both the abbey and the town of Rochefort have free access to the water from the spring. Lhoist will pump up new water to safeguard the water supplies of both the town and the abbey.
However, this would affect the taste of the water and therefore, that of the Trappist beer.
If the source were to run dry, this would affect the entire ecosystem in the vicinity. In the meantime, the monks are not sitting still.
They have started an online petition and your support is very much appreciated by the monks and beerlovers worldwide.
Whilst one abbey beer is endangered, another abbey has announced plans to enter the brewing market. The Norbertine Abbey of Averbode has joined forces with the Huyghe brewery, known for its Delirium Tremens or ‘the Pink Elephant beer’ as it is more commonly known.
The new Averbode abbey beer, set for launch next year, pays homage to the abbey’s rich history. In common with most Belgian religoius houses, Averbode has been a brewing centre for centuries. Averbode will become Belgium’s 27th recognised abbey beer. Huyghe is about to install a microbrewery on the abbey site and plans for a degustation room are also underfoot.
I look forward to seeing their blond and dark beers filling my glass.
Recent Blog Posts
BRUSSELS/MONS - We’ve made our way down to the historic city of Mons (Bergen) for the eighth edition of the international Brussels Beer Challenge. A 90-strong jury is busy tasting; there are four morn ... [ read more ]
BRUGES - This city draws you back in time to the heydays of the Burgundian era. After years of renovation works the Gruuthusemuseum has re-opened its doors. This former city ... [ read more ]
ANTWERP - Brewers from 59 different countries flocked to attend the Brewers of Europe Forum 2019 in the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall, right next to the renowned Antwerp Central Station building. ... [ read more ]
ERTVELDE - To track down a brewer within his own domain is a high-ranking form of sports, or that’s the impression I get. After a bit of practice I spot Jef Versele, CEO of the Van Steenberge brewery, ... [ read more ]
You must be logged in to leave a comment
What is Belgian beer without a café in which to enjoy it? For as long as anyone can recall the two have been inseparable. Throughout Belgium you will find cafés in every size, shape and colour an... [ more ]
Take an unbranded glass and taste a blond, an amber, a bruin or a rood. I’d like to know if you can guess the beer and the brewery every single time. This gets even harder if the test comprises some lesser known or hard ... [ more ]
The name ‘Trappist’ refers both to a religious order and to the world famous abbey beers that they produce. In Belgium there are six abbeys that belong to the order of the Trappists, otherwise k... [ more ]
LEMBEEK - When you pass Lembeek on the Thalys from Brussels to Paris you probably won’t realise that not far from these railway tracks, one million litres of lambic is quietly maturing in oak barrels. ... [ more ]
‘What do you think is the best beer?’ You know this type of awkward question. In fact, it’s not really answerable as there is no such thing as the ‘best beer’. The wonderful thing about <a href... [ more ]
This Trappist beer finds its origins in the pre-war bottled beer destined for the sick and infirm. But further back, 1899 was the year that first saw the monks of Saint-Remy in Roc... [ more ]
Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup
Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.