When it comes to champagne styled beer, two breweries from the small town of Buggenhout, Belgium reign supreme. Last year for New Years we recommended that beer drinkers enjoy a bottle of Deus, a delicious champagne style beer brewed by Bosteels Brewery. Only miles away in the same small town is Landtsheer Brewery, brewers of Malheur Brut Reserve.
Malheur Brut Reserve starts its life as a base beer of another of Landtsheer beers, Malheur 10. But unlike the Malheur 10, Malheur Brut Reserve goes through a process very similar to what fine champagne goes through. First it is packaged into a French champagne bottle with a plastic stopper inserted into the neck of the bottle. It is then warm conditioned at the brewery for two months. The bottles are rotated to different positions over a period of several weeks, with their final resting place in the upside down position. Then, like Deus, the bottles are trucked 200 miles away to France. The bottle neck is then frozen at -35 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes, causing the plastic stopper and yeast to pop out of the bottle. The bottles are then cleaned, corked and caged, labeled, and shipped out to distributors.
So what flavors can you expect from a beer subjected to this pain staking process? The champagne characteristics shine through in the mouth feel. It feels like you are drinking champagne, mostly from the heavy carbonation and bubbles. It also has the dryness that brut champagnes are known for. But when it comes to the main flavor components of this brew, there are no mistakes: Malheur Brut Reserve is a finely crafted Belgian ale. Big yeast flavors coupled with a hearty dose of malt leave no doubt as to this beers roots. It clocks in at 11% ABV and is deceptively easy to drink for such a strong beer.
Malheur Brut Reserve and Deus are the closest thing in our beer sections to champagne, and you will be hard pressed to find any other beers on our shelves that can warrant a comparison. What are you drinking on New Years?