Monday, July 27, 2009

"Belgium Comes to Cooperstown" is this weekend!

Photo: Captain Lawrence brewer/owner Scott Vaccaro, with his lady at last year's beer fest.
I'm hoping Scott will be bringing some of the newest batch of Cuvee de Castleton this weekend.
Fingers crossed...

Brewery Ommegang's superb beer fest, "Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (N.Y.) is this weekend.
I'll be there. Yes, a "Beer Research" weekend is ahead!

Here's an article about last year's fest.

“The Big Lebrewski”: Belgium Comes to Cooperstown, 2008

“We have over 250 beers at the fest this year!” Larry Bennett, Marketing manager for Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY, told me as I entered one of the best Belgian beer fests in all the U.S.A. on Saturday, August 2nd. “There are about 50 Belgian beers and 200 Belgian-style brews” Larry continued. What a lineup it was!
The weekend began with a multiple-course VIP beer dinner on the Friday night, featuring a variety of fine foods, such as mussels, duck, frites, cheeses, and a plethora of brews from the Duvel/Moortgat/Ommegang “family.” These included Duvel, several Maredsous and Achouffe beers, as well as the entire Ommegang lineup. A new brew that impressed me was the Ommegang Rouge, brewed in conjunction with Brouwerij Bockor in Bellegem, West Flanders. I toured Bockor and sampled several very tart and refreshing brews from their wooden foeders in 2007, and the new Rouge is a fine Red Flanders ale, in the style of Rodenbach.
The weather was nearly perfect for the weekend, despite some morning rain showers, with temps in the upper 70’s and low humidity. The beer fest on the Saturday was another top-notch event, with about 50 breweries in attendance. Boulevard Brewing of Kansas City pleased beer lovers with their Saison Brett 07; Brewer’s Art, of my hometown of Baltimore, had Seven Beauties, a country rye style ale, and other brews; Bullfrog Brewing of PA offered several tasty Saisons; Russian River drew a large crowd for its superb Beatification and Supplication; Iron Hill with its Heywood sour brett ale and Saison Extra, and many others; Ithaca Brewing had their excellent Brute, a golden sour ale aged in French oak, with Brettanomyces added, and finished with a champagne yeast; Southampton offered the fine Cuvee de Fleurs, brewed with lavender, dried flowers and spices; Cambridge Brewing wowed with its always-tasty Cerise Cassee and Weekapaug Gruit; Captain Lawrence Brewer Scott Vaccaro really impressed with his excellent Cuvee de Castleton, which is brewed with wild yeasts, muscat grapes, and is aged in French oak wine barrels. Yum!
The theme of the 2008 fest was “The Big Lebrewski” and tickets-200 for the Friday night beer dinner, and about 1,000 for the Saturday beer fest-sold out the same day! See for more info.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gunther Bensch...anyone stateside looking for a Belgian brewer? Plus Girardin and Bienvenue a Montaigu

Gunther Bensch, 32, knows a thing or two about lambic beers. He represents the lambic brewery, Girardin, at several Belgian beer festivals throughout the year. The Girardin Oude Gueuze 1882 is one of the great lambic beers of Belgium. “My mother used to give me a table beer from Brouwerij Haacht, instead of cola, when I was very young” Gunther told me, as we talked after our tour of Girardin in April 2009. “She said beer was healthier than a sweet cola” he continued. Table beer is typically about 1 to 2 percent alcohol by volume; a good training wheels beer.
“Later, I drank Horse ale when I was about 14, and then someone shared a bottle of the Girardin with me when I was 16. By then, I knew I really liked beer. I worked at an Interbrew plant for three summers, beginning when I was 16. I became a disc jockey when I was around 20, and spent a few years doing that. When I was 26, I enrolled in brewing courses at CLT in Ghent. I also joined beer appreciation clubs and started homebrewing. Then in 2004, I first visited Girardin. I really like lambic beers” Gunther said, smiling. “In 2006, I created the world’s first Tripel Gueuze. It was a blend of Girardin White Label Gueuze, and Dilewyn’s Vicaris Tripel, which is brewed at De Proefbrouwerij. Nowadays, my beer is Bienvenue a Montaigu, which I have brewed to my recipe at ‘t Hofbrouwerijke in Beerzel. It has 7.5% abv, and uses some wheat in its recipe. So, it has more body than a normal Tripel, yet is a little lighter in alcohol. You can have two of these in an evening.”
Gunther’s future plans? “I really like the USA. I would like to get a job as a brewer somewhere there, and stay and build a life.” Anybody need a Belgian brewer? Shoot me an e-mail. Seriously.