Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Caution: Overlords at Work.

Old Masters! I'm unsure of which way to go on that. It has two distinct connotations for me: dead Renaissance artists, or scary science-fiction-fantasy overlords. Right. I'm going with the second one.

You'll heed the Old Masters and drink this if you know what's good for ye! 

OK. That's a Palm Ongefilterd from the tap at Belga Queen in Brussels (please turn to p. 24 in your textbooks). The BQ is uppity Belgian cooking with impressive surroundings and magical toilets stalls, if you don't know. Beer list is Palm-Rodenbach-Boon-heavy. Mixed reviews on service but the food is usually good, they say. I can only vouch for the raw bar. You can do worse than a large, iced pile of various mollusks and a bottle of Mariage Parfait. (That was my birthday lunch one year. It was a good one.)

Back to the Old Masters. It is a label Palm has given to three its rare draft beers, which for years now have only been available to a small number of pubs. Among geeks the most coveted Old Master tick would be, I guess, the Rodenbach Foederbier, typically found only at the Zalm in Roeselaere (occasionally there are rumors of appearances elsewhere). The third member of the Old Masters is Boon lambic, three years of age. Besides Belga Queen and the Zalm, other cafés that get one or more of these beers include the Vosken in Gent, the brewery's own Brouwershuis in Steenhuffel, the Horta in Antwerp, and Engelbewaarder way up in Amsterdam. That's about it, as far as I know.

Actually Boon Oude Lambiek is available on draught in several places around Brussels and Payottenland, but only in those few pubs does it get the "Old Masters" treatment.

Are you ready for the strangeness?

The Palm website has a page devoted to the Old Masters. (Caution: Marketeers at work.) As the special glassware suggests, there is a CONCEPT at work here. So let's see what one of Belgium's largest breweries does with what are arguably its three most interesting (noting that interesting ≠ best) beers.

oh boy.
Appearances are important too!

Flat beers are very digestible and moreover they spare you that bloated feeling in your stomach. However, a nice head looks good, which is why OLD MASTERS are served through a nozzle spraying fine jets of beer that absorb nitrogen from the air.
Really? And did you know... 
The consumption of carbonated drinks is dropping globally:
Flat water sells better than sparkling water
Lemonades are being replaced by fruit juices
This why the “Old Masters” are trendier than ever!
Maybe I should say that I'm just poking fun and don't really have any great point to make. But promoting three beers of pedigree and mystique as "flat," and comparing them to water just before serving them via sparkler, is a head-scratching decision.

Or maybe it's best if we not question the overlords and just drink the stuff.


  1. Rubbish.
    But I had the Foederbier in the Palm Brouwershuis a few years ago, and it was great stuff. The challenge was to keep these beers chilled enough to keep them under control.

  2. I had the Foederbier at the Zalm. It was educational. Nice and tart but also one-note, lacking the complexity of the Grand Cru... which makes sense, since that's a blend of young and old rather than simply old. I thought the Foederbier was like a dog-eared photograph of something distant, while the Grand Cru offered a little something in the foreground to put it all in perspective.

  3. Flat beers? Well isn't that something...

    Generally the only beers I enjoy that are flat (or close to it) are some of the thick, syrupy, rich Imperial Stouts that are sooooooo heavy that they have trouble forming a head when pouring. Otherwise, hmmmm, I don't think flat beer is a quality I prefer. Haha