11 August 2017

The Brussels Brewing Projects

The missus is moving jobs, which seems likely to bring an end to the regular supply of odd beers from the off licences of Brussels. Today's post concerns the final three, all from companies based within the city itself, where brewing is very gradually starting to become a local industry again.

¡Déu N'Hi Do! is a hell of a name for a beer, and I'll leave it up to you to pronounce. It's a collaboration between Brussels Beer Project and La Pirata in Barcelona, a 5.6% ABV brown ale with added cascara, the cherry from the coffee plant. It's a pleasant dark red colour,  though rather light of body. I found it to be far more like a red ale than a brown one, being malt-sweet with a lacing of strawberry. After a second there's coffee and a drier roast, but that all ends very quickly without any of the characteristics making much of an impact. Red ale blandness rules and it really doesn't make the best use of its ingredients.

Next up on the collaboration roster is Churchill's Delusion, brewed with Weird Beard of London and described as a "cigar mild ale". A glance at the back of the bottle reveals that, yes, they've used actual cigars, as well as smoked malt. It's a dark garnet colour and muddy with haze, smelling of sticky liquorice and coffee. The flavour is very sweet, that liquorice turning to red liquorice rope, and adding a few toffees from the next jar along the candystore shelf. I don't get any smoke flavour as such, just a hard acrid bitterness, which I guess is the smoke and tobacco's contribution. This harsh and sticky offering really didn't sit well with me. It's certainly not what I look for in a mild, or a smoked beer.

Finally to Beerstorming, which as far as I'm aware is the newest brewery in Brussels. It's a sort of a white label affair, a tiny operation designed to give small groups of outsiders free rein to make whatever kind of beer they want. That's certainly the spiel on the website so I guess the beers released under their own name are kind of adverts for the service. There are over 100 of them now but the one that crossed my path recently was number BS #0028 - GMGK, dating back to January of last year. Interestingly it wasn't even brewed at Beerstorming but at Brassserie Deseveaux in western Wallonia. It's a blonde ale of 6% ABV and includes tea, lemon peel and kaffir lime leaf. Sounds interesting but the taste says otherwise. It's very sweet with a granular sugar edge like, well, sweetened tea. The citrus doesn't put in much of an appearance and it all slinks off the palate shamefully quickly. This beer definitely promises more excitement than it's able to deliver.

Perhaps it's just as well that there won't be any more selections like this overly sweet trilogy for a while. This experimental and collaborative side of Belgian craft brewing would do well to go back to basics.

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