Tuesday, March 9, 2010

ZBF Post-Game Analysis.

Another ZBF come and gone. Another chance to schmooze, booze, spot up-and-coming breweries, and discover beers perhaps best described as "potential future classics."

An annoying trend worth mentioning: As with the Bruges festival, ZBF is gradually being colonized by beer firms whose products are made at one brewery: Proef. True, many of those products are very good. And it's a great compliment to the contract-brewing business that Proef is running. Just the same, I'd prefer to see a greater diversity of actual brewers at these events.

Off the soapbox. Briefly I'll point out three beers that left me most impressed. If you weren't in Sint-Niklaas, watch for them in your favorite pubs and bottle shops.

Troubadour Magma. From the Drie Musketeers beer firm and made at, yes, Proef. It's got a huge American-hop aroma and flavor — citrus and pine — without being overly bitter. It's also got the relatively light-and-lively mouthfeel you expect from a Belgian ale, so it's dangerous at 9% strength. One of the better so-called Belgian IPAs that has emerged so far.

Den Triest Dubbel. Marc Struyf's home brewery has become a microbrewery, and we should all be glad. So far he's making flavorful, dryish abbey-style beers with real malt backbones, bitterness, and without silly spicing. His Dubbel had real roast and toast to it, a clean bitterness, and just an impression of sweetness. I want more.

Saison de Dottignies. This is classic De Ranke — well-hopped, floral and dry — so in some ways this beer is no revelation. But it's lighter and brighter than the XX Bitter, refreshing as a saison ought to be, and at 5.5% strength ultimately very useful. And some good news: Jean at Moeder Lambic Fontainas says it should be a permanent fixture on draft there.

So, for those of you who went, what did I miss? Anything else catch your imagination?

1 comment:

  1. I would agree about the Saison de Dottignies; certainly my favorite of the fest. And it will be a regular on tap at ML-F? As if another reason to go there was needed. I like the Belgoo beers but I wish that the new Magma didn't have such a high ABV. That’d be my only gripe with that one.

    While De Proef are the kings of contract brewing in Belgium it seems like there might be an increase in the number of other breweries also doing brewing for others. I know in the past there were breweries doing maybe one other outside job (like Deca for Struise or Binchoise for Belgoo) but it looks like ones like t’ Hofbrouwerijke and De Graal are doing multiple outside beers now too. You think that will be a trend that increases too since they see the success of De Proef?

    Cheers Joe for sharing some of that bottle of saison on the train back from ZBF.