Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When is a Brewery Not a Brewery?

So, the Brugge fest was a good one. Plenty of interesting new beers and old classics. Plenty of familiar faces and new friends.

One thing that stuck out on the beer list: a lot of asterisks. Each one stands for a brewer or contractor who does not have a brewery. The lion's share were made on contract at Proef, adding to that house's prolific list of products. And to paraphrase Tim Webb, a lot of the beers that come out of there are annoyingly good.

One to watch, maybe: Viven. Another Proef contractor. We sampled the Ale, Porter and Imperial IPA. The latter two, I think, would hold their own with many of the better American craft-brewed examples. The Porter was espresso-roasty, dry as a bone, and dangerous in its drinkability. The American-hopped Imperial IPA was aromatic, juicy and bitter, and basically only sippable (what, you expected drinkability from an IIPA?). But my favorite I think was the Ale. More a pale ale in the English style, it was hoppy, dry and sessionable.

I say "maybe" because I don't know what their future plans are. Maybe they're content having an excellent technical brewer execute their excellent recipes. Certainly I'd be content to drink them. But I don't have to be impressed until they can pull off the feat with their own hands, in their own place, keeping the floor clean and the books in the black.

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