Category Archives: Belgian

Samuel Adams Brewing to offer “bride ale,” marriages at Boston brewery

brewleywedJune is traditionally the month for marriage. The folks over at Samuel Adams Brewing Company in Boston, Mass. recognize this and have brewed up a very special, one-of-a-kind beer to commemorate this traditional month of matrimony. And, if the mood strikes you, they will even let loving couples exchange their vows in the brewery.

But, in order to get your hands on the brew, dubbed Brewleywed Ale, you will have to appear in person at the Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston on Wednesday, June 26. So, if you are not currently in Boston, you may have a hard time getting your hands on the limited release brew.

According to the brewery’s blog, “Just 300 cases of this Belgian stylebride ale” have been brewed for the big day, so whether you’re engaged, married or celebrating an anniversary – or looking for a unique gift – line up for your opportunity to purchase a bottle or case. Brewlywed Ale will be available in 750mL, cork-finished bottles.”

Last year Sam Adams started this new tradition of celebrating the union of two people by brewing its first batch of the Belgian-style “bride ale.” Beer has been a traditional part of weddings for millennia. In fact the word honeymoon describes the ancient practice of supplying a newly-wed couple with mead – or honey beer – for the first moon, or month of their marriage in hopes of a swift conception. In addition, the medieval word “ale” comes from the word “bridal.” No wonder beer is such an integral part of weddings!

If you are lucky enough to be in the immediate vicinity of the brewery for the release of Brewleywed Ale, and happen to have a valid Massachusetts marriage license, the folks at the brewery would be pleased to help you tie the knot. a Justice of the Peace available to perform ceremonies on the spot while string quartet Maestro Musicians serenades couples in the background. Need a Best Man (or Maid of Honor)? Jim Koch, founder and owner of Samuel Adams, will be on hand to witness your special day.

If you are just there for the beer, you can pick up the 750 mL bottles for $14.99 at the brewery, June 26 only.

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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Belgian


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Dozens stand in rain for chance to buy Westies for first time

westie_1Today is the last day in our lifetimes that there will ever be a triple date day. That means that the next time there is a date where all three numbers are the same will not be until January 1st 2101 – 01/01/01. Today is also the likely the last day you will be able to purchase the Holy Grail of beers, Westvleteren 12, legally in the US. If the crowds at Total Wine this morning are any indication, that is.

It was wet, rainy, and slightly chilly at 6:00 a.m. when I arrived at the Total Wine in Jacksonville, Fla. But, I was not the first intrepid beer aficionado to arrive. In the pre-dawn hours of what I like to call Westie Day, there were already about 12 in line before me.

Why would anyone stand out in the cold rain in December to buy beer? Because Westvleteren 12 is no ordinary beer; it is, as I mentioned above, the Holy Grail of beer. Add to that fact that it is also one of the rarest beers in the world as well as considered one of the best beers in the world, and you have a recipe for what is one of the biggest events in recent beer history.

westie_2The event is so big that it even made it on NPR this morning. According to the story on NPR and And, Mark Bode, the brewery’s Westvleteren, this unprecedented event is not likely to repeat.

“I think it will be the last,” said Bode. And since visitors are not allowed in the Abbey, he is the authority on the monks’ views.

“They say, ‘We are monks, we don’t want to be too commercial. We needed some money to help us buy the new abbey and that’s it,’ ” Bode expounds.

westie_4The brew, which is selling for $84.99 a six-pack including two special chalices, was made for export this one time due to a dire need to repair the roof of the Abbey in Belgium. Since monks take a vow of poverty, they do not have cash reserves for the needed repairs and released the brew to finance the repairs.

The regular method of obtaining the brew is, well, arduous at best. Even the most ardent of beer-lovers could get discouraged by the process that requires apostles of the brew to call a special telephone number that may, or may not be answered. If, after multitudes of calls (some report that it can take months to get through to the Abbey) you are lucky enough to get someone on the line, you are told when you can come and line up for beer. But, that does not mean you will get the brew, only that you have the right to stand in line on that specific day. You may find, when you get to the front of the line, that they have sold that day’s allotment of Westies.

The brew is so rare because the monks only produce enough to support the Abbey. That equates to less than 4,000 barrels a year. The monks are westie_3adamant that they are not producing beer to make a profit, only to support their day-to-day needs. They also ask all who purchase the beer at the Abbey to sign an affidavit that states the beer will not be resold at a bar or beer shop. This rule is often technically followed by beer sellers in Belgium who will include a “free” bottle of the brew with a beer purchase or shipment of a certain dollar amount.

For the folks standing in the cold rain this morning, the fact that the beer is even available was reason enough to face the elements. Brenden Bledsoe said of the opportunity, “I’m stoked to be one of the few to be able to enjoy one of the world’s finest beers with friends and family during the holidays.”

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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Beer, Belgian


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Trappist ales spotlighted on ‘I Know Jax’

Not long ago the news that one of the world’s rarest beers, Westvleteren 12, will be released for sale next week. In the video below I talk about this extraordinary beer on “I Know Jax” with my cohort Joe Talentino.

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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Beer, Belgian, Events


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Westvleteren 12 to be sold at Jacksonville Total Wine beginning Dec. 12

Français : Westvleteren Blonde (5,8 %)

Français : Westvleteren Blonde (5,8 %) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In January of this year I wrote an article with news that was huge for United States beer lovers. News that I compared to, “Elvis is still alive and munching peanut butter and ‘nana sandwiches. It’s as if you found a lotto ticket on the ground only to discover it is the jackpot winner. It’s like waking up between Olivia Wilde and Scarlett Johansson.” And I was not kidding, it was big news for the U.S. But, the beer that I have today is just as big for Jacksonville beer drinkers: fellow Belgian beer lovers rejoice! Westvleteren 12 will be available for purchase on Dec. 12 at Total Wine in St. John’s Town Center. Yes, you read that right, the Holy Grail of the beer world is coming to little ol’ Jacksonivlle. There will be no tickets to purchase, no reserving of the beer, and you cannot order it over the telephone. You have to go to the store on Dec. 12 to purchase the brew.

you may remember, while I was visiting the Belgium in 2010, I stopped into a quaint 400-year-old tavern called Au Bon Vieux Temps owned by a lovely – and lively – woman named Marie. As I perused the menu and ordered beers, I became friends with Marie and we began talking about my beer writing activities.

With a glimmer in her eye, Marie asked if I had ever tried a Westie. I replied that I had not. When she asked if I would like to, I wondered exactly who in the bar I would have to bump off before I got my hands on one of those extremely rare brews. I, of course, blurted that I would LOVE to try a Westie.

A moment later she disappeared into the cellar behind and beneath the bar. She returned with not one, but three of the plain bottles. She handed them to the bartender who opened it, presented me with the bottle cap (which I still have) and poured the brew into a chalice. When I origianlly wrote about the beer, this is what I said, “I sniffed the thick head that formed at the top of the glass and smelled dark fruits – figs, plums, spices, caramel, and alcohol. The first sip was an explosion of sweet maltiness, spices, and a hint of oak.”

Westvleteren is brewed at the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in Belgium. But, that had not always been the case. Monks from the Catsberg monastery in France founded the St. Sixtus monastery in 1831 and began brewing beer in 1838. At that time beer was brewed for the consumption of the monks, guests, and visitors only. But in 1931, the abbey began selling beer to the general public. The beer is sold only to support the monastery and other charitable causes.

While there are currently several secular workers at the brewery, the beer is primarily brewed by the monks only, making it the only Trappist brewery where the monks do all of the brewing. Only enough beer is brewed to support the monastery and no more regardless of demand. If you are lucky enough to obtain permission to purchase the brew, you are allowed only one case of 24 bottles of Westvleteren 12. The receipt given to purchasers clearly states, “Not for Resale.” In the words of the Father Abbot, “We are no brewers. We are monks. We brew beer to be able to afford being monks.”

In October of 2011 it was announced that the beer would be more widely available for a very limited amount of time in order to temporarily increase funds for urgent and immediate renovations at the monastery. Only 93,000 cases of the beer would be available and those were to be packaged into a six-pack with two glasses. In November U.S. importers Shelton Bothers and Mannekin-Brusel announced that they would have limited quantities of the beer available in the gift packs beginning in April. That date stretched to June and, for Jacksonville, December.

Many consider the Westie 12 to be the best beer in the world. Indeed in June 2005 during a bi-annual competition, Westvleteren 12 was voted “The Best Beer in the World,” by the members of Critics and beer afficianados alike agree that this brew is sublime.

Of all the beers I tasted in Belgium and throughout my life, I would have to agree that it is my favorite beer in the world. But, as is the case in most things, opinions tend to be subjective. Some reviewers attribute the moniker to the rarity of the beer and certainly that is part of the allure. But, for taste, balance and character, I still stand by my assertion of it being my all-time favorite and worthy of being called the best beer in the world.

This is a beer you definitely want to get your hands on because you may never get an opportunity to obtain it again. Certainly you will not be able to get it in a gift pack here in the states and probably not unless you go to Belgium and stand outside the abbey in hopes of scoring a case.

Total Wine will offer the six-packs packaged with two logo chalices for $84.99.

If you are lucky enough to snag a six-pack, be sure to share it with good friends who will truly enjoy this exceedingly wonderful and rare brew.

Keep up to date on all the beer happenings and news going on in town at the ALL NEW


Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Beer, Belgian


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“I Know Jax” video, Summer is for Saison

The newest episode of “I Know Jax” with me, The Beer Guy, is out. View it here and now!

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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Beer, Beer Education, Beer Styles, Belgian


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Belgian National Holiday Feestdag to be celebrated with tastings and special events

The original flag from 1830

The original flag from 1830 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often revolution is sparked by existing passions roused to a boiling point by a work of art, music, or theater. Such is the case with the Belgian Revolution of 1830 in which the Belgian people rose up against the Dutch to wrestle its independence from The Netherlands in part as the result of the opera La muette de Portici. The opera dramatizes the historical uprising of Masaniello against Spanish rule in Naples in 1647.

With the aid of French intellectuals and armed forces, as well as the Catholic clergy who were against the Protestant Dutch King William I, the Belgian people fought for full independence. Because the European powers of the time feared Belgian may become a republic or get annexed to France, a monarch was found to lead the country from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in Germany. On July 21, 1831 the first Belgian king, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg was installed and the date became the Belgian National holiday known as Feestdag.

Since Belgium is known as one of the world’s greatest beer countries, it seems only fitting to celebrate their national holiday with beer-centric celebrations. Here in Jacksonville, there are several events taking place that you will not want to miss including a tasting, beer specials, and a special Bier Garden event at the Jacksonville Suns game.

The first event, takes place tomorrow night at Total Wine and More in the St. John’s Town Center with a tasting of Belgium’s top selling ale, Palm. Palm is a Belgian Pale Ale that was originally produced as competition to the pilsners and lagers that were becoming popular throughout Europe. It is described as neither heavy nor bitter with toasty malt aromas, slightly bitter orange flavors, and a tart, refreshing finish. The tasting at Total Wine will go from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

In addition to the tasting, all four European Street Cafes are celebrating with several specials. Look for beer specials on all week, a happy hour all day on Saturday, July 21 starting at 10:00 a.m. on Palm and Bright Lights White, a new Belgian-style Wit from Intuition Ale Works.

The new Belgian-style Wit from Intuition was fermented with the Celis yeast strain, the same strain used in Hoegaarden in Belgium. Ben and his crew also used a combination of Belgian Pilsner Malt, German Malted Wheat, and Munich Malt along with some flaked wheat and oats. To that grain bill, the wizards at Intuition added acidulated malt or what the Germans call Sauer Malt to give the beer a subtle tang. All the spice flavors percieved in the beer come from the yeast, as Ben says no spices were added.

Estreet is also celebrating with the popular Beer and baseball event at the Jacksonville Suns baseball game Saturday night. Every month baseball fans and beer-lovers alike can spend a night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in the European Street Café Bier Garden located in the left field area. For one low price fans can get admission to the game, all the beer you can drink and all the Estreet food, including Monster German Wieners, Estreet sandwiches and wraps, cole slaw and chips from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p. m. The price is just $20 and tickets are available at all European Street locations.

In addition, the guys out out at Engine 15 along with Carolyn Graham of Brown Distributing are planning to pull out a few surprises, Carolyn says, “It’ll be delicious, I promise.” Festivities begin at 2:00 p. m.


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Gnome Week Celebrated with Multiple Events in Jax

There has been a recent uptick of interest in all things gnome. From the animated movie Gnomeo & Juliet to the photos circulating the Internet of zombified gnomes attacking helpless garden flamingos, gnomes are on a roll. This week the hype comes to its pinnacle, June 6-9 is gnome week and the 6,666th anniversary of gnomes discovering the magic water that brews magical beers. And, there are a number of celebrations taking place throughout Jacksonville to commemorate the illustrious occasion.

Gnomes are widely considered mystical spirits of magic and alchemy that were first mentioned in the 16th century by Swiss alchemist Paracelsus. He described them as just two spans high (about two feet), reluctant to interact with humans, and able to move through solid rock as easily as we m,ove through air. They are often associated with mines or underground streams. According to legend, a village of gnomes discovered that the waters of Cedrogne Spring in what would become Belgium had magical properties. It was said that the water could heal numerous ailments so the gnomes soon began using the water to brew beer. Naturally, that beer held on to the magical properties of the water.

This week, come drink with Carolyn Graham of Brown Distributing, she will be hosting several events where there will be beer born of that ancient spring in Belgium from  Brassiere d’Achouffe. The fun begins Wednesday and continues through Saturday.

Wednesday, June 6
Engine 15 Brewing Company from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Tastings of several brews from Brassiere d’Achouffe.

Thursday, June 7
Cork & Keg from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
More great brew to taste.

Friday, June 8
Total Wine & More from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Brassiere d’Achouffe poured by Marc Wisdom, Jacksonville Craft Beer Examiner and I Know Jax’s the Beer Guy.

Pele’s Wood Fire
Gnome Gnights three-course dinner with beer pairings for just $30.

Saturday, June 9
Whole Foods from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
More samples and more fun!

Pele’s Wood Fire
Gnome Gnights three-course dinner with beer pairings for just $30.

So, get out your pointy hats, groom your curly white beards, and come taste several of the brews from Brassiere d’Achouffe. You are sure to leave whistling a happy tune – or was that dwarves who did that?

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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Beer, Belgian, Events, Imports


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