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Happy Summer!

Happy summer!  We have a ton going on, so this newsletter is absolutely packed.

Sourtime And the Livin’ is Easy

The 2012 bottlings of our special blends, LAMBICKX and LAMBRUCHA, are in.  Since Don is the only person who has ever been allowed into Belgian lambic breweries to do his own special blends, we are talking rare. This is the only shipment for 2012.

Each year, we spend the 1st quarter in Belgium to work with our breweries and to select and blend the lambics we use for LAMBICKXand LAMBRUCHA. We only bottle once a year – prior to April – to ensure that we are working while the weather is cool.  Once the weather warms up, the wild yeasts get active and the risk of developing too much acidity becomes too great.

Because these are true seasonal beers with base ingredients procured way ahead of time, quantities are extremely limited. They fly out the door and are offered on a 1st come, 1st served basis. In other words, if you want to order them, hurry up!

Lambics are, indisputably, the “wines” of the beer world. With wine one speaks of “gout de Terroir” because the land so influences a wine’s flavor; with Lambics, one must speak of “gout de Tonneau“ because each cask (“tonneau”) produces a lambic that matures and tastes different. Blending these Tonneau is such an art that there exist independent Geuzestekkerij (blenders) who buy young Lambic then age and bottle it under their own name.

Lambickx™ is Vanberg & Famille’s brand of hand-selected and blended lambics. Every Lambic with the Lambickx™ name is made from casks personally tasted and chosen by Don Feinberg, one of the first importers of Belgian beer to America and founder of the first Belgian-only brewery in the U.S. Don chooses his Lambics for their complexity, brilliance and drinking excellence both by themselves and as exquisite accompaniments to food.

Here are Don’s tasting notes for this year’s crop of beers (click image to enlarge):


Source: Private Domain

Aroma of white grapes, sweet apples, fruit, tobacco, honeysuckle and hay. Restrained tartness.Bright, but not acidic, round and soft body, some chardonnay butteriness. Fine astringent finish with hints of quinine. Slightest hint of carbonation.  Not quite cask still, but almost! 


Source: Brouwerij DeTroch

Aroma of sweet grass, smoke, peaches, sour apples all spiked with a background barnyard funk. Big, round acidity in the mouth with notes of lemon, tangerine and grapefruit melting to a rich, sour-sweet finish, balanced by the full presence of tannic and wood notes. Slightest hint of carbonation. Again, not quite cask still, but almost!


This Vanberg et Famille creation blends organic Belgian Kombucha and Lambic from DeTroch. We invented this beer style combining two different live yeast cultures.  Lambrucha was named “Experimental Beer of the Year” in the US Open and cited in Esquire as “one of the healthiest beers on the planet”.  For the first time, this beer is available on the West Coast.  This is the ONLY shipment of Lambrucha this year. Please do not delay.

Don’s notes: Beautiful pale gold color with hints of rose. Aromas of sage, rosemary, cucumber andsea spray come bracingly forward. A lemony sourness greets the palate but is quickly replaced by even more refreshing flavors of pine, mint, rosemary and cedar. A tight, small bubble carbonation cleans the palate completely leaving a sense of tonic refreshment.

Read some recent reviews on Ratebeer, listen to Don and Roger talk about how the groundbreaking Lambrucha beer is made, then head over to the DeTroch site to watch a video of the lambic brewing process.


More great news on the sour and wild beer front: Vicaris Tripel-Gueuze is here!  This is one of the most delicious and innovative uses of Lambic in Belgium today. A richly sweet, almost honeyed Tripel made dry and crisp with a complex tannic character by perfectly balanced blending with Gueuze. It’s been a huge hit at the Zythos Festival in Belgium. Available in 30 liter key kegs and 6×75 cl cases.  Vicaris and the dynamic young founder, Anne Catherine Dilewyns are featured in the summer issue of Saveur (along with Wendy).

Here’s how one of Belgium’s top reviewers, Joris Pattyn, describes Vicaris Tripel-Gueze: “Huge, just yellowish head, fed by fine carbonation in bright yellow beer with orange haze, quite persistent at that. Lemony lambic nose with some spicy notes; grain, wheat and lemon balm. Probably some white candi sugar. Dry, with bit of Brett, lactic acid flavor, citrus (mainly lemon but also possible lime zest) and wheat. There’s another fruity streak there, that is indeed reminiscent of (not quite ripe) peaches. Bitter back throat. Very spritzy, slick, medium-bodied. Nice try, very satisfying beer.”

More Summery Suggestions

We have been telling you this for years!  Witkap is simply the most delightfully refreshing, lemony, light abbey ale for summer. At 6% ABV, it is almost session strength. Beer Advocate Magazine reviewers agree: “There’s Belgian Dubbel and Tripel ales, and then there’s Stimulo, better known as an Abbey Singel… A very drinkable and flavorful beer that’s a nod to what the monks might drink on a regular basis. Drink like a monk? Sure, why not?”

Look: Pale hazed straw. Smell: Ripe plums, chalky yeast, dried grass, faint band-aid, honey dew melon. Taste: Smooth lighter body, hay, fresh baked crackers, orange pith, light white pepper corn, vegetal, green plantains, dusty clove, medicinal herb, browned apple, dry finish.

Foret Blanche

From the multiple platinum-medal winning brewery that makes the ne plus ultra collection of Belgian farmstead ales, that brews the Saison against which all others are measured, and is the pioneering originator of organic beers in Belgium (since 1990) comes this charmingly rustic, supremely tart, wonderfully refreshing and righteously organic Foret Blanche.

Take Dupont’s legendary yeast, organic barley malt, a waft of certified organic wheat, a swirl of citrus and spice and you can almost imagine the rare, delicious interpretation of the signature Belgian beer style that awaits you. Foret Blanche is drier than most wits, more lemony than it is tutti frutti, and has a yeasty, tart profile. Foret Blanche is 5.5% ABV, with a foggy honeycomb color.

Easy drinkability combined with loads of flavor makes Foret Blanche a sensational refresher. Lovely with delicate seafood dishes—perch and fish stews, mussels, oysters, shrimp, crab cakes & lobster rolls. Bring it along for pho and spicy Thai dishes. We love Foret Blanche with pizza.

Modern Brewery Age’s tasting panel just awarded “5 mugs” to Foret Blanche (their highest rating):

Dupont’s Foret Blanche imported by Vanberg & DeWulf is yet another affirmation, if one is needed, that imports have not lost their relevance. Made with organic wheat and barley malt, and fermented with Brasserie Dupont yeast, this is one of the most flavorful summer beers you can imagine. Lemony and spicy, but light, dry and refreshing, it’s well worth seeking out.”

Wow, a beautiful thing!” -Tom Conti

These guys are the bomb. God bless that Dupont yeast!” -Renzo-Kian-Kuboda

A pleasure to drink and a really good food beer.” -David Talbot

Diversey & Lille


We devoted a lot of ink in our last newsletter to this beautiful new beer. It arrives in most markets in time for Bastille Day (July 14) and is a beautiful marriage of the talents of Chicago’s biggest independent brewery (Two Brothers) and France’s champion of artisan brewing in the Biere de Garde style (Castelain). You can read all about this super food beer here.

Diversey & Lille will be featured in the best beer places all over Chicagoland, of course. In the case of 45 states, it will be your only chance to taste a beer that Two Brothers has had a hand in. Available in 750’s (6 to a case) and 30 liter kegs.

Have you noticed that now that Saison style has been crowned the IPA of 2012, other farmstead ales are beginning to get more attention? The Biere de Garde is finally getting its due. There is no more food friendly elegant interpretation than Castelain.  Start with Diversey & Lille then work your way through the entire lineup!  Castelain Grand Cru (gold medal winner in the World Beer Championships) is one of only 3 beers being poured on tap at Trencherman in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. This beer is simply insanely good with pickle tots and smoked sturgeon.

And in conclusion….

  • Let us know how you liked the Speciale Belge!
  • Stay tuned for news about Cuvee des Trolls in 5 liter kegs the most adorable Halloween package ever.
  • Marketwatch has an article on Belgian beer and quotes from Wendy Littlefield. We are up way more than the segment, happy to report.
  • Avril is going to be listed among the 25 best beers of summer in a major publication.
  • Posca Rustica is on fire in Idaho! This is just one of the many fantastic findings coming out of a series of great discussions with our wonderful distributors.
  • Mississippi is about to get our beers on or about July 31st. We are headed to Jackson right after the Tales of the Cocktail.





For Your Convenience

By popular demand, we will be including a chart of all of our beers in all of our newsletters.  Use it for handy reference when ordering or while keeping track of what to look for in shops and cafes.

Remember!  Some of these beers are limited edition & rare so giddy up if you want them!

Beer Cocktails Are All the Rage

Later this month, we are heading to The Big Easy for the Tales of the Cocktail conference: the most awesome assemblage of mixologists anywhere in the nation. We’re tickled pink that Vanberg & DeWulf’s beers are being used exclusively in the only beertail seminar happening in New Orleans.  We are getting tons of press and professional inquiries round this sold out seminar.  SAISON DUPONT, MONK’S STOUT, VICARIS TRIPEL, and DUBUISSON PECHE MEL are the beer stars.

Here are the 4 cocktails that genuine luminaries in the spirits world – Adam Seger, Doug Frost, and Francesco Lanfranconi – have devised. Try them out on your own and share them with your customers!

The Birds and the Brews

1.5 oz HUM Botanical Rum

1 oz Fresh Lime Juice

0.5 oz Honey Syrup

1.5 oz Strong Brewed Rare Tea Cellars Gingerbread Dreams Rooibos Tea

5 oz Chilled Saison Dupont Beer

Mixing Technique: Shake

Ice: Rocks: Kold Draft cubes

Garnish 1: Slapped Basil Leaf

Garnish 2: Beer Poured by guests

Special Instructions: Pre-batch everything but the basil and beer. Chill and serve in glass 2/3 full with Cocktail and Ice. Garnish with Basil.

Dark and Stoutly

1.5 oz Ginger-Habanero Syrup

1.5 oz El Dorado 15 Year

0.5 oz Lime Juice

5 oz Monk’s Stout

Mixing Technique: Shake

Ice: Rocks: Kold Draft cubes

Garnish 1: Lime Wedge

Special Instructions: Fill glass 2/3 full of ice and batched cocktail, garnish with lime.

Mezcal and Mayhem

1.5 oz Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal

0.75 oz Mayhaw Syrup

0.75 oz Campari

5 oz Brouwerij Dilewyns Vicaris Tripel

Mixing Technique: Shake

Ice: Rocks: Kold Draft cubes

Garnish 1: Orange Twist

Special Instructions: Fill glass 2/3rd full with batch and ice. Garnish with Orange Twist.

Rub & Rye

1.5 oz Bulleit Rye

0.75 oz Lemon Juice

0.75 oz Maple Syrup

1 oz Egg White

5 oz Brasserie Dubaisson Peche Mel

1 g Mesquite Salt

1 g BBQ Bitters

Mixing Technique: Shake

Ice: Rocks: Kold Draft cubes

Garnish 1: Mesquite Salt Rim

Garnish 2: BBQ Bitters-3 Dashes

Special Instructions: Fill Glass 2/3rds with Ice and Batch. Guest will pour the Peche Mel over the cocktail.

Great for Summer BBQs

Hop Ruiter rules.

By which we mean that it took top honors in all Belgium at the Antwerp Brewing College competition at DeKoninck for best beer from a Belgian microbrewery.  This dry hopped strong golden ale we make with the Schelde Brewery in Turnhout bested beers from Dochter van de Korenaar, Hoften Doormal, Glazen Toren, Les Rulles, Smisje and dozens of other independents.  This is the best use of hops in a Belgian golden ale and the beer doubled in sales last year.

Hop Ruiter – Don’s recipe made with the renegade brewers in Turnhout – is everything we ever loved about Belgian strong golden ales with a burst of dry hops.  We just made it easier for on premise accounts to get in on the action. Hop Ruiter is now available in 33ml bottles.

Here’s some copy for your shelf talkers from the Hop Ruiter review: “pours a very light, hazy yellow with a full, thick snow white head and lots of bubbles.  Apricot, cinnamon spice and clove are prominent on the nose with some accompanying yeastiness, a very bright aroma.  It has a lot of carbonation, not as much as the comparable Duvel, but still a good amount.  Sweet, candied carrots and pecans assault the tongue up front.  Not in an overbearing weird way, but in a subtly good way.  There is a mellow, lingering bitterness from the hops without much hoppy aroma.  More apricot and peach as well as cinnamon and clove bring up the rear with a mellow, bitter aftertaste.  It’s a very light texture but bubbly, like champagne.  A great light Belgian with a full flavor.




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