European Beers

21 Jan

As mentioned in my previous post, I was lucky enough recently to be sent some very interesting beers from R&R Teamwork to try out. In the last edition, I tried out the beers from the U.S. and now I shall wax lyrical on those from this side of the ocean (namely, Belgium and Scotland).

If you’ve tried any of these, then drop me a line and let me know – I’d be curious to hear your thoughts!

Fruity beer? Well, why not...

Liefmans Fruitesse: 4.2% – Liefmans Brewery, Belgium:

Sometimes fruit beer can be too sickly sweet for my liking. I’m almost always after a bitter, punchy, yeasty beer or stout to sit by my side while I cook dinner or watch a film. So, I was a bit hesitant with this one. Liefmans Fruitesse is a fruit beer (duh!), combining flavours of cherry, bilberry, elderberry, strawberry and raspberry. What makes it slightly more interesting than a run-of-the-mill fruit beer is that it has been matured for 18-months on cherries. And you can definitely taste that. This beer manages to hold its own by focusing on more tart, bitter flavours – cherry, bilberry – rather than overdoing the candy shop strawberry taste that I find too sweet. It’s a bit biting and – although I’d only have one – I found it to be a refreshing, rather than a sugary, beer; great for summer picnics. It retails for £1.60 at Waitrose & Selfridges.

A smoking gunn?

Innis & Gunn Highland Cask 18: 7.1% – Innis & Gunn Brewery, Scotland:

Opening up the box to find this beer was a real treat – a 7.1% beer that I hoped could really set my taste buds alight. Innis & Gunn is very popular back in Canada, but until my latest trip there, I hadn’t heard of it – odd, I thought, given I live in England and this is from Scotland. But, Innis & Gunn do a lot of promoting in North America – it’s a bigger market and people’s beer drinking tastes are evolving rapidly there. This bottling was a limited edition, matured in casks previously containing 18-year-old scotch whisky. And, I could really pick it up – there were hints, not unlike a whisky, of toffee and oak, and it was rich and warming. It didn’t get me quite as excited as I thought it would but I have a feeling that – given I love whisky so much – I was expecting more of a whisky hit. It was well balanced, though, and an interesting one to try. Though, at 7.1%, maybe just stick to one or two. It’s available for £2.50 at Sainsbury’s.

Duvel, how you set my heart on fire!

Duvel: 8.5% – Duvel Brewery, Belgium:

To top things off, I finished with a Duvel – I held off on this one because it has been a long-time favourite. I discovered it for the first time at the fabulous De Hems pub on Macclesfield Street in London a few years back and I’ve been drinking it ever since. This Belgian beer is really one for beer lovers, in my opinion. It comes in at a hefty 8.5% but still manages to be refreshing – always dangerous! The blond beer is fermented a second time in the bottle (fermentable sugars and yeast are added at the bottling stage). It is then matured for another 60 days in warm and cool temperatures to achieve its characteristic biting, yeasty flavour. It’s slightly sweet but has a drying bitterness on the finish which keeps the sugars down. I could drink it all night long. Definitely a favourite. It retails at most supermarkets for £1.67 upwards.

One Response to “European Beers”

  1. cult1982 January 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    I like all of the Innis & gunn beers, the rum cask is really special, dark and broody, but with a lovely sweetness, molasses, just like a good rum…….try the original and also the Canadian cask……keep up the good work Innis & gunn!

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