Congrats to Binny’s for earning Chicago Reader’s 2013 Best Liquor Store.
That’s four in a row!
Quarry threatens Rochefort water supply.
Inhaling alcohol is a thing, apparently. But can it make you fat?
Another ancient beer recipe.
This time, it is Sumerian, and GLBC. They say it won’t see bottles.
Frescobaldi releases wine made by prisoners.
Prisoners receive no wine.
Another article about how wine ratings are flawed. Stick with it.
If you have a few hours to kill, check out the response on reddit.
Our journey is on its final stretch. Catch up with parts one, two and three.
We spent day six with the Van Steenberge brewery. As usual, this brewery has been in the same family for generations and produces some top notch Belgian ales including favorites such as Piraat, Gulden Draak, and Augustijn.
Van Steenberge Sign
The brewery itself is very large and sprawls around several acres and has its own water source. They have been on this same property since 1784. Van Steenberge pioneered conditioning beers (carbonating naturally) in kegs and has a lot of space dedicated to conditioning rooms which hold bottles and kegs at slightly higher temperatures to allow the yeast to reactivate and carbonate the beers. Currently Van Steenburge produces about 65,000 barrels a year, of which 75% is exported. This is done on an impressive 100 hectoliter brewhouse that turns out six batches a day.
Van Steenberge Brewhouse
What impressed me most at the Van Steenberge brewery was their yeast management program. They use seven different yeasts and only use yeast for three generations. They use two different yeasts for bottle conditioning, one for flavor and one to remove oxygen. Yeast management is crucial when so many of your beers tip the scales at over 10% abv.
If you haven’t been following along, Nate Hadley and myself have been traveling through Belgium tasting beer, sight seeing and learning all about the culture! This is day four and five of our journey.
Hop Farm in Poperinge
We spent day four with the Van Ecke brewery, makers of Poperings Hommel, among others. Our first stop was a hop farm in the town of Poperinge. This was by far my favorite stop of the trip to this point. It was a small, family farm called ‘t Hoppecruyt. We toured the fields, which were just past the initial sprouting phase and the vines were starting to climb.
We spent day 2 of our journey through Belgium exploring the city of Antwerp with our friends from Troubadour. The biggest news of the day was Nate Hadley’s arrival. Our poor Naperville beer manager was bumped on his flight over due to the flight being overbooked. The flight he was hoping for standby on was also overbooked and then cancelled due to mechanical problems. He spent a night in Washington DC and finally got to us today. His luggage, however, did not. At least he’s here!
Troubadour beers are outstanding across the board. They have a Blond, Obscura (a light stout), Magma Triple IPA, Westkust (a black IPA), and an imperial stout. It’s great to see a Belgian brewery embracing US Craft brewery ideas and creating hop forward beers in a country typically completely devoid of them. If you haven’t had Magma, do yourself a favor and pick one up. There also may still be some of the limited edition Sorachi Ace Magma floating around at some of our stores.
We started our day with a little sightseeing in Brussels. We hit the usual spots, including the Atomium, which is a remnant from the 1958 worlds fair. It’s over 100 meters tall. Pretty cool, especially considering that all we have leftover from the worlds fair in New York is some rusty flying saucers in Jamaica Queens. ( There is also a significant remnant from the 1939 New York World’s Fair in Richmond, VA. It is now the Belgian Friendship Building at Virginia Union University, and it is a National Historic Landmark. -ed.)
We also checked out the iconic Mannekin Pis. It’s very small, maybe 20 inches or so, and not much to look at. So I did what any forward thinking beer nerd would do and popped into Mort Subite for a glass of their house blended lambic, whose deliciousness words cannot describe.
Pictured below is Petrus Aged Red, quite possibly the best new Belgian beer to debut in our stores this year. Several of Binny’s beer experts sampled this beer yesterday, with many comparing Aged Red to some of the most famous beers in the world. Some thought it was similar to New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red, while a few others found striking similarities to Kasteel Rouge. One even mentioned Duchesse De Bourgogne. Something we all agreed on is that Aged Red can be classified more as a fruit beer than a sour.
Petrus Aged Red shares little in common with sister beer Petrus Aged Pale, despite taking part in a similar aging process in micro organism infected barrels. The main difference stems from Aged Red going through fermentation with cherries, imparting loads of sweet and fruity flavors onto the brew. Aged Pale is sour and acidic, and one of the finest sour beers available on our shelves.
At only $8.49 for a 25.4oz bottle, Petrus Aged Red is an economical no-brainer and quite possibly the most complex beer around that price point on our shelves.
Brewery Huyghe, famous for their pink elephant and Delirium branded beers, is planning on releasing a new beer in Chicago for the first time in what seems like forever (we have been selling Delirium Tremens, Nocturnum, and Noel for over 12 years, and haven’t seen anything new from Huyghe since then). The beer in question is La Guillotine, an 8.5% ABV Belgian golden ale that is most definitely worth a shot if you are a fan of Delirium Tremens or similar beers. We recommend serving La Guillotine in a Delirium Tremens snifter, which are also available for purchase at your local Binny’s. We expect La Guillotine to be available at Binny’s in 2-3 weeks.
In May 2012, the International Trappist Association approved Engelszell to be a Trappist Brewery. This was a big deal, as Engleszell became only the eight producer of Trappist beer, and only the second outside of Belgium (Austria). In one sentence, a Trappist Brewery is a brewery where the beer is still brewed by monks. For more info on Trappist Breweries, check out this link.
Binny’s is now featuring two selections from Engelszell. First is Gregorius, a dark triple brewed with honey that clocks in at 9.7% ABV. The second offering is Benno, a 6.9% ABV saison. Both are available in 11.2oz bottles for $5.99 apiece. If you are interested, please contact your local Binny’s for availability.
If it hasn’t been apparent that Binny’s has a love affair with Belgian beer from our previous weeks’ sale programs, it should be totally clear now. That is because for the rest of July virtually every Belgian beer we sell has had its price slashed, a portfolio that includes over 700 beers. There is something for everyone in this sale, from saisons to sours and everything in between. Check it out now.
The Binny’s Belgian Family Brewers Sale begins … now!
“What is Belgian Family Brewers?” you may ask, “and why should they have their own sale?” Funny you should bring it up.
Belgian Family Brewers is a collaboration of historic, family-owned breweries in Belgium, many of which are difficult for Americans to pronouce, and many of which make delicious beers. Check out their website. Why give them their own Binny’s beer sale? Well, they consistently deliver great beer, plus we’re supporting family owned, traditional Belgian breweries. Everybody wins! This sale runs now through July 3, so be sure to head over to Binny’s soon to stock up on some great Belgian beers!