Thursday, December 10, 2009

157 Reasons for the Season at the Kerstbierfestival.

Kerstbierfestival is tomorrow. Maybe the best festival on the Belgian calendar. The gents from OBER have outdone themselves this time, putting up 157 winter, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or otherwise really special beers up for tasting. Or drinking. That's a lot of merriment and cheer. Time to study the list and point out a few promising numbers.

We're only scratching the surface here, but what about the Winterkoninkske Grand Cru? It's a new one from Kerkom, makers of the classic Bink Blond. The reasonably spiced and reasonably bitter Winterkoninkske, at 8.3% abv, is already one of the better seasonals out there. For the Grand Cru, brewer Marc Limet kicked it up to 13% with a bigger malt bill and some hungry Champagne yeast. (See Steven Vermeylen's report on the beer here, in Dutch. Don't worry, the photos are in plain English.)

Before that we'll need some Courage. That's the new winter offering from Dochter van de Korenaar. According to the brewer, Courage checks in at 8% abv and is spiced with anise and elderberries, "and is nicely balanced by hops." It will be on draft and in bottle. The spicing doesn't excite me, but the "corn ear's daughter" has yet to disappoint.

The new (or old?) Rodenbach Vintage will be there, for anyone who wants a taste. So will a handful of bruising seasonals from Mikkeler, made in Belgium then sent to Denmark then imported back into Belgium. Also a bunch of offerings from new breweries like Den Tseut and Den Hopperd.

And if those don't work out, there's always the old classics. Like St. Bernardus Christmas (draft or bottle), La Rulles Cuvée Meilleurs Voeux (bottle), and De Dolle Stille Nacht (draft or bottle). Recommended lighter beer, as a starter while perusing the list: Slaghmuylder Kerstbier, an unfiltered lager on draft or in bottles.

OK, there is no Kwanzaa beer to my knowledge. But there should be. Here, however, is a clever Kwanzaa beer stein for 20 bones.


  1. But can any festival be better than the one I was at yesterday? Day of the Lambic in little Eizeringen: 17 unblended lambics from 9 breweries in a cosy little village pub. :-)

  2. Yeah Sven... It sounded beautiful but I really wish they wouldn't plan that for Kerstbierfestival weekend.

  3. I agree, seems a bit odd. Or maybe they don´t want more guests, 'cause it was pretty packed already.

    p.s. Still haven´t got your book, but I´ll get it next time at Cantillon.