Monday, March 1, 2010

Gettin' Some Auction

I thought I'd punch in one more entry before the ball of this busy week gets rolling. This Thursday and Friday is the highly anticipated Pré-ZBF Festival, the event that long ago I declared as the climax to this Belgian brewing adventure. I've already bought a plane ticket to Scotland for next Tuesday, where I hope to maintain the buzz I've felt during my time with Struise. This coming week, however, will be packed tighter'n canned sardines marinated in soybean oil. We've got several beers to keg, including Earthmonk, Mokkabom (aka Black Damnation II: BD fermented on whole coffee beans), Black Mes (Black Damnation aged on Caol Isla Distiller's Edition '95 whisky), and Coffeeclub (Black Damnation II aged on Havana Club rum). These new BD beers are part of a developing collection of a dozen beers based on Black Damnation that will be released in the coming months. In addition, Struise will be serving Sint Amatus, a newly released oak-aged quad of sorts, some of the original batch of Black Albert from 2008, Pipedream, and a keg of the original Dirty Horse (this kriek-like beer is now 25 years old, brewed back in the 80s by a young, homebrewing Urbs). In between filling every available empty cavity with beer (not, um, any body cavities... yet) we have to brew some beer, too. I mean, we are a brewery. "Elliot", a double IPA named after Jeppe's son (see previous post), will be brewed on Wednesday, and it looks like the Witte will be brewed on Thursday morn'. With the first night of Pré-ZBF, Whisky Night, exploding on Thursday, it's going to be a marathon of a day. How do you train for such a marathon? That is my question.

Nine earthy liters; I spy an unawares photographer

But before we delve into the art of being busy in the brewhouse, some loose ends must be tied up here in the schoolhouse offices. Urbain has been conjuring up some magic on The Internets, pounding out some spells on the keyboard that are making die-hard beer geeks die even harder. He's been creating some auctions for bottles of special-release beers, the profits of which will go to saving the Vleteren region's school bus service. The announcement can be found on their website, and the auctions can be found through this link. Up for sale are a bottle of 2005 Pannepot Grand Reserva, four bottles of 1983 Dirty Horse, two bottles of 2008 Earthmonk infused with La Vieille Prune (barrel-aged distillate of prunes), aaaaaaand.... one 9-liter bottle of Earthmonk proper. Earthmonk is a dangerously smooth, fastidiously blended Flanders sour ale that will satisfy your desire for a full-bodied yet refreshingly tart fruity beer. Imagine how many people you could please with 9 liters of this stuff! More auctions, and thus more beers, are on the way.

Damn Dirty Horse

Might as well make one more thing public; no sense in keeping it a secret. I'm well into ruminating over the fact that I'll need a job when I return to the States. I've been contacting as many New England breweries as possible to see if an assistant brewer position is open anywhere. So, if any of you, Dear Readers, have any leads regarding brewery work (not just in New England), I would love to hear from you. Thanks!

Beer comes out of some random tanks strewn across the farm

One last note: Carlo was feeling celebratory on Saturday, so he decided to open a beer, an American one, for us to try. Trying these American beers (a lot of West Coast beers that are hard to find in the East) makes me excited to go home, wrap the silky stars 'n' stripes around my torso, and sip all the sweet nectars Uncle Sam has to offer. What we tried was 2008 Cuvee de Tomme, from Lost Abbey. Their website describes it as "a massive brown ale base that is made from four fermentable sugars including Malted Barley, Raisins, Candi Sugar and Sour Cherries, this beer is fully fermented before being placed in Bourbon barrels where the beer ages for one year with the Sour Cherries and the wild Brettanomyces yeast that we inoculate the barrels with." I have to say it was Capital, just Capital! A hearty yet delicately tart beer with just the right amount of carbonation and dark fruit character.

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