Belgian beers have long been my favorites and, as evidenced by my trip to Belgium last year, my passion. I love the variety the Belgian brewers introduce to their brews and the outstanding quality that is virtually guaranteed of a Belgian beer. The Belgian people take their beer seriously and therefor will not stand for shoddy practices or poor quality beers.
Last night my good friend Steve of Beerjunto.com invited me over to his palatial mansion to taste several new Belgian beers he had come across. The three brews we tried were all from the Brasserie Caulier a brewery situated less than a half mile from the French border in Péruwelz, Belgium. Named for a nearby town where the first brewery was established in 1980 the three beers tasted were Bon Secours Blonde, Bon Secours Brune, and Bon Secours Ambree.
Brasserie Caulier wanted to follow in the brewing traditions of the Brigittine Monks that first settled in the area and established a brewery in Peruwelz around 1628. Brasserie Caulier tells a story about the first brewmaster of the monastery named Father Baudelot who, after celebrating Mass every Sunday at the Chapelle Notre-Dame-between-wood in the village of Bonsecours, would walk home and pay visits to the local taverns along the way. After long evenings of drinking and socializing with the parishioners, Father Baudelot would require assistance getting back to the Abbey. The good Father’s dog, a statuesque St. Bernard, would guide him safely to his home. In honor of the Father and his faithful companion, all Bon Secours brews feature a St. Bernard on the label.
Brasserie Caulier is a traditional brewery that produces beers using the traditional methods. The brews are unfiltered, unpasteurized, and the secondary fermentation takes place in the unique swing-top bottle the company uses. This second fermentation in the bottle leads to an extremely lively bottle evidenced by the “Biere Vivante!!” tag line on the label, which translate to “living beer.” Indeed, it is a very good idea to have your glass nearby when opening the bottle as the carbonation tends to rush to the top of the bottle as soon as it is opened.
The first of the beers we sampled was the blonde. As mentioned above, when poured into a tulip glass the brew formed a thick, white head of fragrant bubbles releasing aromas of sweet malt, lemony citrus, and the earthy spiciness one expects from a Belgian Strong Ale. The appearance of the beer in the glass is hazy yellow which leans towards the golden side. First sip revealed the sweetness of the malts followed by the brightness of the lemon and finally a pleasant herbal character. This beer paired nicely with the homemade gyros my host served for dinner.
Next we broke open the amber from Brasserie Caulier. As with the blonde, this brew poured into the glass with a tall, rising head of attractive and aromatic foam that was dominated by the smell of dark sugars and caramel and the typical Belgian yeast funk. In the glass the beer is a deep orange color with amber highlights. Immediately upon first sip the sweet, caramel nature of the malts washes over your taste buds. In the finish there is a hint of sourness reminiscent of a Flanders Red.
The third and final beer of the evening was the brune. This brew poured a deep brown with a generous slightly tan head. The aroma is of dark-roasted malts, mocha, and some dark fruits. The first sip revealed the dark malts and mocha hints along with dark brown sugars – perhaps molasses — and raisins. Drank alongside some truly outstanding brownies made with chili spices and vanilla made by Steve’s lovely wife Amber, this beer really stood out.
As Belgian beers continue to gain popularity in the United States, it is always a treat to come across a brew that I have not tried before. As was the case several months ago with Antigoon, the Bon Secours beers are a very pleasant addition to my catalog of tasty Belgian brews. While all three of the Brasserie Caulier brews boast 8% ABV, they are very drinkable and pleasant on the palate. If you are looking for inexpensive as well as tasty Belgian brews these three are well worth your time.
Bon Secours Blonde, Bon Secours Ambree, and Bon Secours Brune are available at Total Wine in the St. John’s Town Center for $2.99 to $5.99.
Until next time,
Long Live the Brewers!