Christmas Beer Festival : a
Over this weekend, the Essen (Belgium)
branch of the OBP is holding its Seventh Christmas Beer Festival and
yesterday I had a chance to drop in for a few hours. For a complete
list of the beers served at the festival, consult the beerlist.
This was my second year at this festival and again, I found it well
worth the trip. For veterans of the 24-Hour festival in Antwerp,
this festival is much smaller in size, but with 84 beers to sample
(and many in the double-digit alcohol content range), there is more
than enough to drink over the two days of the festival.
Particularly noteworthy are the separate no-smoking room, and tables
and chairs for everyone (I left in the late afternoon, however, so
that may have changed). Also unlike the 24-Hours festival, there is
a single bar staffed by members of the local OBP branch rather than
a separate booth for each brewery.
I would like to give a brief
summary of each of the 84 beers, but I'm afraid that is not going to
happen. But, instead, I will tell you about the "star of the
show" -- not a Christmas beer and hardly available for sale.
It was Bush Millenium, 13 percent
and worth every drop. The festival glass accepts slightly more than
10 cl and that seemed to me about the perfect serving size.
Considering that it is only available (if you are lucky enough to
find it) in Magnum (1.5L) bottles, you may want to invite 100-150 of your closest friends over to taste it.
My own comments (I have a slight
cold, so comments are more likely to be understated) a somewhat
dark, very tasty beer, no spices/herbs that I noted. The nose was
mostly malt and alcohol. Very slight alcohol taste, though the
warming sensation was obvious after a sip.
Here is a translation of the notes from the festival book: "A
real showstopper! Fortunately, our vice-chairman still had a few
magnums left in his cellar, where the beer had matured for a year.
The Millenium beer receives a three-month second fermentation in oak
vats. It has an exceptional aroma. It is probably a very good beer
to store for later drinking. Only 200 hectaliters were brewed. The
color is dark blond. The nose is of malt and alcohol and the aroma
is sweet and fruity. The taste is sweet malts with strong alcohol
notes. What follows is slightly bitter. This is like eating and
drinking at the same time!."
I also tried the Malheur Brut
Reserve, which, according to the festivalbook, Michael Jackson has
dubbed a "new world classic." It is, according to the
publicity, finished in much the same manner as champagne. (Didn't
Pierre Celis do the same thing with his Grottenbier?) At a
"mere" 11 percent, it paled behind the Bush Millenium, but
I am eager to try it under more favorable circumstances
(particularly minus the cold). All in all, a very nice festival,
though with a specialized theme, a good mix of different beers.