Today is the traditional birthday of Gambrinus, sometimes called King Gambrinus, considered to be a patron saint of beer, brewing and/or Belgian beer. Not an “official” saint, at least not in the Catholic Church, but a legendary figure. Around the year 1100, the brewers of Brussels deliberated which strong and courageous man should be their leader. They organized a contest, at which a large beer barrel was placed on the ground. The one who could carry it to a spot two stone’s throws away would become their head brewer. Among many who registered for the contest was a Duke from Brabent, whose name was Jan Primus, a man of great strength and considerable intellect. With obvious joy, he followed the futile efforts of the numerous competitors to move the beer barrel. When his turn came, he ordered the servant to beat a spigot into the bunghole. He then lied down under the barrel, opened the tap and drank until the barrel was empty. Having done this, he carried the barrel effortlessly to the winning post. On the strength of this clever idea, the brewers of Brussels appointed him as their honorary leader. From then on he was the patron of brewers and innkeepers and Jan Primus became Gambrinus, the King of Beer. Peaks and Pints honors Gambrinus with a to-go Belgian beer style flight we call Peaks and Pints Pilot Program: King Gambrinus On The Fly.
Peaks and Pints Pilot Program: King Gambrinus On The Fly
7.3% ABV, 3 IBU
Petrus Aged Pale was never intended for the public. It was merely a blending beer, stored in 220 hectoliter oak foeders, used for Brouwerij De Brabandere’s Oud Bruin to give it a slightly sour flavor. It wasn’t until world-renowned beer expert Michael Jackson (no, not he who moonwalked) stopped by the brewery in the ’90s and wanted to try the beer. Jackson convinced De Brabandere to let him take the “mother beer” back home to the United States, which he named Aged Pale. Aged in one of the 15 25,000L oak vessels in the Petrus aging cellar, this beer is brewed and then aged in the aforementioned vessels for between 20 to 30 months. We get tons of oaky tannin and subtle malt kisses up front, which eventually turns into that red apple cider vinegar punch. Finish is lightly tangy and slightly sour with some dry lemon notes and a lingering puckering dryness.
9.2% ABV, 22 IBU
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy, which sits in a large valley close to Rochefort in the province of Namur, in Belgium, is home to a community of Trappist monks (Cistercians of the Strict Observance). The three brown ales produced by the abbey — Rochefort 6, Rochefort 8 and Rochefort 10— can be tasted in the nearby town of Rochefort and all over the world. Rochefort Trappist 6 is named after its original gravity measured in “Belgian degrees” — a brewing scale no longer used today. It was first sold to the public in 1953. Bottle-conditioned for soft natural carbonation, and the oldest of the three Rochefort Trappist beers, Rochefort 6 has the reddish color of autumn leaves, a soft body and an earthy, herbal palate (a hint of Darjeeling tea), which develops into a deep fruitiness. Refined, soft spiciness in the bouquet finishes with a bit caramel.
9.5% ABV, 36 IBU
In 1836 the Belgian Westmalle monastery became a Trappist Abbey and began brewing beer shortly thereafter. The holy suds they produced started out as an insider-only deal — a choice beverage to be made and enjoyed by Trappists and Trappists alone, but eventually they decided to expand and opened up a public beer hall in the early 1930s. Westmalle embodies the tripel style with a thoughtful balance of sweet, fresh pear, lemon zest and a dash of peppery spice. Its flirtatious effervescence sweeps the mouth clean, while lingering lemony hops leave the mouth pining for more. It’s an exceptional beer, with a great deal of finesse and elegance and a splendid enduring aftertaste.
Between 1946 and 1992 the St. Bernardus brewery brewed the beers of the Sint-Sixtus abbey in Westvleteren. In 1992 production reverted to the abbey of Westvleteren. By some mathematical equation this means the recipe for the St. Bernardus Prior 8 originated in 1946. And to this day, this abbey beer wears the original Westvleteren yeast. On the nose, expect sturdy banana esters, moderate toffee-like malt and slight clove. It drinks like a dubbel with fruit esters (light raisins, banana, and clove) that finds a spicy counterpoint in sharp black pepper. Subtle earthy hops punctuate these malty, yeasty notes as the beer washes back.
For more than a century, Catholic Cistercian monks known as Trappists have been brewing and selling what many beer lovers consider some of the best in the world. Eight monasteries — six in Belgium and one each in Holland and Austria — produce the only beer recognized by the International Trappist Association as authentic Trappist beer. In January 2014, the 63 brothers of St. Joseph’s Abbey — about an hour’s drive west of Boston — joined them, selling the first Trappist beer brewed outside Europe. Spenser Brewery Reserve Ale is a full-bodied classic Trappist quadrupel with a nose of dark malts, caramel, bread, raisins, figs, molasses, plums, cinnamon and herbal and earthy hops. The taste is sweet with strong notes of dried fruits and spices, while the background has a strong malty profile with notes of roasted malts, caramel and dark bread.