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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday Tasting: DeProef Brewmaster's Collection

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we crack open the mail bag for six big Belgian ales courtesy of SBS Imports.

De Proefbrouwerij is a newcomer compared to most Belgian beer producers. It was founded in 1996 by Dirk Naudts in the the village of Lochrsiti. Naudts had been a brewmaster at the Roman Brewery in Oudenaarde, Belgium, and at St. Lieven in Gent. The DeProef brewery is a small 9 barrel system designed for making experimental brews and small batch products.

The DeProef Brewmaster's Collection covers quite a bit of Belgian beer ground. Here are my notes from sampling the beers across three sessions.

La Grande Blanche Imperiale White Ale: This 7.5 alcohol by volume ale is hazy with a pretty firm, but short head. Good tropical notes and mild spice.

Zoetzuur Flemish Ale: A sour-style Flemish ale, the beer is 7 percent alcohol by volume. A good solid beer that has had a small amount of cherry juice added which serves to finish the sour notes with a balance of sweetness. You either love or hate this beer. Not much middle ground, but that is perfect for the style.

Saison Imperial Belgian Farmhouse Ale: The wild yeast captured in this 8.5 percent alcohol by volume beer makes it a real treat. There is a wine-like characteristic in the background and some hints of spice.

Lozen Boer Abt: This Abbey-style ale honors the "cow smuggler" and has plenty of dark fruit overtones, perhaps a touch of apricot, with healthy malt throughout. Nice dark reddish hue. At 10 percent alcohol by volume it packs a solid punch.

Reinaert Flemish Wild Ale: The pale golden color does not adequately communicate the spicy, hoppy notes in this beer. The beer is fermented three times using two yeast strains, which gives it quite a bit of depth. The use of brettanomyces (wild yeast) is a tip of the hat to Belgian lambic makers.

Signature Ale: This brew is the result of the combined talents of Naudts and Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing and Lost Abbey in California. The beer benefits from four malts and two yeast strains, plus the aggressive hop levels that are common among American brewers. The result is a golden brew with a rocky head and 8.5 percent alcohol by volume. Plenty of citrus notes and solid hop bitterness.

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