Heverlee

Tuesday has always felt like a bit of a black sheep amongst the days of the week. As a homage to Tuesdays, I’ve decided to do a slightly different kind of post today.

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Heverlee is a Belgian pilsner style lager which has taken Scotland and Ireland by storm. It’s the baby of Joris Brams, a Belgian man who’s been living in Scotland since 2000. I was lucky to have a chat with Joris to find out more about Heverlee and why it’s become so popular over here. Even more luckily, I’m going out to visit the brewery at the beginning of next month. I can’t wait!!

Heverlee is brewed at the Abbey of the Order of the Premontre which has gone through some massive developments in recent years. It’s had around €14 million in investment to restore it to its former glory, including a fully working mill. The abbey was founded in 1129 and its workers focussed on farming and fishing. They built the original brewery to cater for these workers and they brewed a really light, low alcohol beer to keep them hydrated. Belgium is famous for its dark, high alcohol beers but these are more associated with the Trappiste abbeys who had onsite breweries which were to make profit so they had time to roast the malts and make higher alcohol contents. However, it wasn’t the highest interests of abbeys like the Premontre to spend time and money roasting malts…and plying their workers with 8% beers! Unfortunately the brewery closed down in 1550…. until now that is…

 Joris grew up about 2 miles away from the Premontre Abbey and used to play in the surrounding fields as a child. When he moved to Scotland, he wasn’t a huge fan of British ales and was frustrated with the lack of Belgian lagers available.  This was the catalyst that fuelled him to bring his favourite drink –  Belgian lager – to Scotland. He returned to Belgium and began to research the original recipe brewed at the abbey way back when it was originally open. Whilst chatting to Joris it became very clear that authenticity was very important to him. He wanted to keep the recipe as close to the original as possible, he even has plans to restore the original brewery! The current recipe uses a mixture of malt and maize and the renowned Saaz hop. Joris also wants to keep the monks heavily involved. They actually run the brewery and receive royalties from Heverlee sales to further fund the abbey. He’s also very adamant that while Heverlee isn’t widely available in Belgium, and it’s biggest markets are oversees, it will always be brewed in Belgium so it 100% lives up to its title of a Belgian lager.

 Heverlee is widely available throughout Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland but Joris is hoping to branch further into England, as well as the USA and Brazil! Let’s hope that Heverlee does as well in Brazil as Belgium did earlier in the year (Sorry USA…)!

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Viven Porter

If you follow my blog (or know me) then you’ll know I love anything that tastes smoky – sausages, cheese, ham and most importantly, beer! The Schlenkerla Marzen is still my favourite beer ever but I’ve found another that I think is truly delicious. At the Belgian ale tasting (see my post below) I was recommended to try the Viven Porter which is brewed by Brouwerij Van Viven, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. 

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It comes in a 330ml bottle and I think the label is really pretty. You can definitely taste the smokiness but it isn’t too strong and it doesn’t overpower the other coffee, chocolatey kind of flavours. As you can see from the picture, it’s very dark in colour and has quite a high ABV – 7% although I guess this isn’t too bad for a Belgian beer! This isn’t the most summery of drinks but as the weather is beginning to get colder, this would be perfect as an alternative to a spicy red wine.

 

If you have any recommendations for smoky beers, please let me know!!

Belgian Ale Tasting

I am so happy to be working in a company with people who love beer and more importantly, love trying new styles and learning about it! Last weekend, a group of us went to The Elm Tree in Cambridge to take part in a Belgian ale tasting. It was the first proper tasting I’ve been to and I loved it. I really want to go to more so if anyone can suggest good ones around the London area, please let me know! The Elm Tree was exactly my style, small, cosy, dark wood and lots of interesting things to look at. I’m a sucker for skulls and there were lots of them around which added to my fondness for the place. They had an amazing selection of English as well as Belgian ales and the staff were very friendly and clued up on their stock. They were able to recommend things to try based on other beers you like and even what your favourite foods were!

 

Jessica was our Belgian ale guru and she was fantastic. You could tell she was truly passionate about Belgian beers and she was a fountain of knowledge! She talked us through 8 different beers and was able to provide so much fascinating information. I really wish I’d brought a dictophone so I could listen back to it. I’m going to do reviews of the beers we tried but sadly my laptop broke recently so I can’t upload pictures at the moment and so this will have to wait for a little bit. I just really wanted to do a quick post to let you know about this pub and to recommend their Belgian ale tasting. If I can make my subsequent blog posts half as interesting as Jessica was, I’ll be happy!