During the last week of March and first week of April I was able to travel around Belgium enjoying wonderful Trappist Ales, Lambics and sours and many other well known Belgian brands. I was able to connect with the site manager of Rodenbach, the production manager of Liefmans and the in house cicerone of Duvel Moortgat. At Grand Teton, we have been brewing some sour ales, our most recent release being Oud Bruin (pronounced Ow’d Bruin) as part of our Cellar Reserve series. Being able to talk with the brew team at Rodenbach and try a true Belgian Oud Bruin was very enlightening because they were sharing practices they use to brew this style which I was not familiar with at all.
One of my favorite conversations I had was with Nicolas Soenen, Duvel’s in house cicerone. I was able to try almost all of the beers in their portfolio that are made in Belgium (Duvel Moortgart owns Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York and recently purchased Kansas City based Boulevard Brewing Company). They make some wonderful Trappist ales, as well as Kriek beers under the Liefmans label and of course, Duvel. Each year they make Duvel Tripel Hop by adding a new hop that turns this classic Belgian Pale Ale closer to a Belgian IPA; this year they used Mosaic Hops. The last beer Nicolas shared with me was their new IPA; Vedett Extra Ordinary IPA. I will tell you, nothing about this IPA is ordinary. It is bursting with Pacific Northwest hop flavors and aromas and it is perfectly balanced, one of the finer examples of an IPA I have tried. Nicolas was particularly proud of this beer when he poured it for me and I understand why. I asked him if he could tell me what hops they used in this beer. He told me it was actually a secret but he assured me it has several hop varieties used in most American IPAs and he has a feeling we use them at Grand Teton Brewing.
My trip to Belgium aligned perfectly with the release of our new Summer Cellar Reserve; Splashdown Belgian Style Golden Ale. This beer is a great blend of drinkability and complexity from the simple malt bill, noble hops and Belgian Yeast. While pale in color, this beer boasts an ABV of 7.5%. We will be featuring another beer this summer brought back from our Cellar Reserve Series which was promoted to our Seasonal program; Snarling Badger Berliner Weisse. We brewed this beer to be crisp, clean and sour like a slice of lemon. Brewed with a strain of Lactobacillus to provide that crisp tartness, low in hops and pale in color, we hope this beer will become a summer staple. This beer will be released in four packs as well as on draught. Make sure to get some while you can.