Sunday, 31 August 2008

Family trip to Bodegraven

Not much need of an introduction. The title says it all. The kids had already visted De Molen a couple of times, but it was Dolores's first time.

We started not at the brewery itself, but the fermentation and packing department. It's in a former cheese warehouse. Bodegraven is still big on cheese. In the streets around the one used by De Molen, there are half a dozen other cheese warehouses, mixed in amongst quaint, little houses.

Menno's full of ideas. As usual, he had half a dozen new beers for me to try. We started with something light: Amerikaans. This is a version of the cask-conditioned Engels he exports to Britain. Except it uses American hops. And is a bottled beer. It's remarkably tasty for just 4.5% ABV. Dolores was convinced that it was much stronger.

Bloed, Zweet & Tranen (Blood, Sweat and Tears) was next. Brewed from a combination malts that includes brown and peated, it's rich, deep and satisfying. I'd only just about had time to finish my glass when the next beer arrived.

Hel & Verdoemenis is another powerful and complex dark beer. Maybe this was the one with the peated malt. I wasn't taking notes. This one was 12% ABV (I know that for sure) and it wasn't the strongest I was offered.

Cuvee, matured in a wine barrel for six months, which came next is almost 13% ABV. The third fermentation in the barrel has added a zesty lemon aroma that is odd, but certainly not unpleasant, in such a strong dark beer. The beer itself is a blend of Rasputin and Tsarina Esra.

A dessert beer, called B & G, was next in my glass. To hit its 15% ABV, champagne yeast is used for the final part of the fermentation. Malty, sweet and with a touch of raisn that's reminiscent of a sherry. This was much more to Dolores's taste than most of the other beers. Very tasty and really suitable as a substitute for dessert wine. It reminded me a little of Whitbread Gold Label, but richer.

To finish was something really special. Beer Liqueur. The only one in the world made exclusively from beer and nothing else. It's really a fortified beer. First Menno brews an unhopped strong beer. This is fortified by the addition distilled beer. I think the result is delcicious. No idea if you could still count it as beer, but who cares?

After the liqueur, we had a quick tour of the warehouse, paying particular attention to his wooden barrels. If you're going to the Copenhagen festival, you're in for a treat. There's a barrel of Cuvee heading there. Yum.

We eventually made it to the pub and brewery. There I had a draught Borefts Stout. SOme of the last, as it won't be brewed again. Pretty nice, Then a draught Tsarina Esra. Really was yummy, despite being a tad too cold. I finished with a bottled Tsarina Esra that was very close to perfection.

Of course, Menno and I chatted about what he'll be brewing for me next. But not before November. It's just too expensive to buy the hops until the new crop arrives. Barclay Perkins Russian Stout and Whitbread KKK. That's what the plan is.

What a dull post. Apologies. I was having so much fun I didn't pay proper attention. Or take notes. I've let you down. Just drank some wonderful beers and had the brewer explain how he created them. How does that Edith Piaff song go? I think I had my priorities right.

Go to de Molen yourself. Menno has some magnificent beers. Say I sent you, and you might even get to try a few.


Anonymous said...

Met him at GBBF and tried some of his cask of Tsarina Esra. Very nice man.

Magnus said...

Next time I'm in Holland, I'm going to try to make it Bodengraven. What does the word "Borefts" mean by the way?

Ron Pattinson said...

I thought "from Bodegraven".

The Beer Nut said...

I said you sent me and got nothing but a sympathetic smile for it. Fortunately, someone else was being treated to fresh Amarillos and I managed to claim some of that by looking hopeful and thirsty.

Great pub, and well worth the trip.

Laci said...

I have heard about this place first time but quite sure it might be a nice spot for vacation trips.