Thursday, December 15, 2011

Talking Beer with Pierre at Delices et Caprices.

That's Pierre Zuber from Delices et Caprices, still for my euros the best beer shop in Brussels. It's not for the quantity of beers he sells, which is frankly not large. It's because the beers are well chosen and the man behind the counter knows about all of them. Knowledge and passion are sometimes in short supply in the town's other bottle shops.

On Monday afternoon we shared my favorite beer of the week so far, the L'Enfant Terrible from Dochter van de Korenaar. It's an oak-aged lambic blend of some kind, although haven't had time to hunt down many details. Tart, sparkling, dry, with grapefruit notes and cobwebs. About 7 percent strength, but you won't know it until you stand up and try to walk away. Excellent beer and I wish there were more like it. Why aren't there?

A common theme on my travels this time: Everyone's seen a spike in interest in specialty beers, from visitors from all corners of the globe, in just the last couple of years. Chinese tourists, to name an example, know about Mikkeller and they are asking for it, among others. "The consumer has totally opened up his mind about beer," Zuber said.

But is he asking after the right beers? Sometimes they seem to be more interested in the international- or U.S.-style craft beers -- IPAs and imperial stouts, and so on -- than the traditional ones. "When the IPAs came along, it was slightly over the top. ...  I was dreading a little bit that we were losing focus on what beer really was."

But things swing back around and breweries like the good Dochter make beers like L'Enfant Terrible, and in the end we can skip what doesn't excite us, drink what does, take Pierre's suggestions, and sleep well at night.

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