Thrilled to have the lovely organic and summery Foret Saison from Brasserie Dupont featured in Philly.com! A perfect choice for the quickly changing weather and sunshine, with spring finally warming up and summer around the corner. Pick up a bottle and enjoy sipping a glass outside in the sun!
Category Archives: Press
From BeerInfo’s Beer of the Day: Red Herring Smoked Ale Brewed by Green Jack Brewing – United Kingdom
There are few smoked beers being made in the UK, and this one – hailing from a brewery that was a former herring smokehouse – is a gem. Wittily named, a red herring is something that distracts attention from the real issues; supposedly, escaping criminals would drag strong smelling red herring across a trail to make pursuing blood-hounds lose the scent.
Red Herring a 5% ABV smoked ale is made with pale ale malt, wheat malt, crystal malt, chocolate malt, and sugar, with UK Challenger hops to complement the smokiness of the grain. The resulting ale is fruity red with a bonfire smoke smell, a balanced plummy taste, gentle bitter finish, soft carbonation, and a beautiful, pillowy mouthfeel. Very easy drinking and comfortable ale. Wow! 30 liter KeyKeg only.
This smoked ale is a yummy, plummy, smoky treat with ham, smoked cheese, kippered herring, and nuts while reading novels by Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie and Patricia Cornwell.
The Green Jack Brewing Company
Originally founded in 1993 in Oulton Broad by Real Ale enthusiast Tim Dunford, The Green Jack Brewery Company temporarily ceased trading in 2001 after a split with business partners. However, in 2003, Tim and Lee installed a purpose-built 2000 litre plant behind The Triangle Tavern, therefore making it the UKs most easterly Brewery. Since then a much larger brewery has been built in Lowestoft to compliment the micro brewery and this exciting new brewery started brewing in early 2009, making Green Jack one of the largest real ale brewing companies in East Anglia. Tims Ales have won numerous CAMRA Beer Festival Awards over the years including best winter beer in the land!
Green Jack ales are well-known for their “hoppy character”. With locally malted wheat and barley, traditional English cone hops are blended with hops from the New World in generous proportions to give the ales floral, citrus and fruity aromas. Green Jack ales are a testament to Tims taste, skills and commitment to individuality and quality. The move to large purpose built brewing premises in Lowestoft is the dawn of a new chapter in the Green Jack success story and we hope that we can continue to increase our national presence as one of the finest real ale breweries in the UK.
This past November Belgium’s equivalent to Bloomberg TV did a series on the business of Belgian beers and their influence in the world. In the episode on exports to the USA. Wendy Littlefield was selected as the authority on the American market. This video was shot in Ghent at the spanking new tourist headquarters. Watch the full interview here. It’s about 10 minutes long.
After 5 years of making Belgians extremely happy with their special seasonal release a dry-hop version of SAISON DUPONT, Vanberg & DeWulf and Brasserie Dupont are now able to make American drinkers equally happy. Saison Dupont Cuvee Dry Hopping 2013 will be available this May only featuring the famous TRISKEL hop varietal from Alsace.
Triskel is bred from the French Strissespalt and English Yeoman hops. Dupont’s master brewer Oliver Dedeycker describes it as “combining the aromatic notes, mainly floral, of Strisselspalt with the fruity character of Yeoman.” The unusual name, Triskel, was apparently inspired by triskelion, the symbol of the Gauls, those beer drinking ancestors of the French, which represents the three elements: Earth, Air and Water.
Cuvee 2013 will be available in the following formats:
case 12x75cl (please note bottles will be brown to better preserve dry-hop aroma and flavor)
Distributors in the Vanberg & DeWulf network will be able to pre-order their supplies of Saison Dupont Cuvee Dry Hopping only in January for delivery in April to the best retailers, bars, restaurants and beer connoisseurs coast to coast.
Chris Schonberger, editor of First We Feast gathered a group of beer experts to put together a list of the twenty most influential beers of all time. Saison Dupont was given this honor, read more below.
Chris Schonberger says: “If anyone in American know their Belgian beers, it’s Don Feinberg. Before the majority of Americans had even heard of a farmhouse ale or a sour, he was driving around Belgium seeking out small, traditional breweries and bringing their beers back to America in suitcases. After establishing Vanberg & DeWulf in 1982, he went on—with the help of his wife, Wendy Littlefiled—to introduce the country to world-class beers like Duvel, Rodenbach Grand Cru, and Frank Boon’s lambics.
Given this history, I can forgive Don for answering with the slightly argumentative response, “Belgian beer,” when asked about the most influential brews of all time. If he had left it at that, I might have pegged him a curmudgeon. But, in fact, his reasoning is both heartfelt and instructive, and worth sharing here:
“Belgian beer broke the ridiculous hold of Reinheitsgebot [the German purity law regulating how beer can be made] on the American imagination. It showed home brewers, craft brewers, and big brewers that it’s what’s in the bottle that counts, not some absurd adherence to an approved ingredient list or narrow stylistic guidelines. It showed the essential importance of fermentation, and the value of re-fermentation for stability (why pasteurize when you can re-ferment?). It showed that that sugar is an ingredient to be prized if you want drinkability with your higher alcohol; that hops are just one of the spices brewers should use; that sour is good, that strong is good, that aging in barrel or in bottle is good, that more than one fermentation is good, that fruit is good; that, in sum, there is no one great beer, there are only great beers and anyone with a palate and passion can go out and make one.”
The man makes a good point. And so I’ll let Don be the visionary and the teacher, and I’ll be the list-obsessed Internet journalist and make a pick for him.
The beers that Vanberg & DeWulf brought across the pond from Belgium have been undeniably influential in inspiring the American craft beer movement, for all the reasons Don notes above. And for me, looking at its catalog, the one beer that stands out is Saison Dupont—the farmhouse ale whose effervesce, earthy hop character, and dry finish have set the rubric for so many that have come after.
Needless to say, there’s a story there too: When the seminal beer writer Michael Jackson encouraged Don to go visit Marc Rosier (then the brewer at Brasserie Dupont), this beer was actually slated for extinction due to its lack of popularity. Don convinced the brewery to keep making it, brought it to America, and now the beer is considered among the world’s best. (Interesting side note: It has also become popular back home in Belgium.)
As Wendy Littlefield points out, “An English journalist and and American importer made it possible for Saison Dupont to become the most imitated style of beer by craft brewers.”
Chris Schonberger asked friends in the beer world to help him develop a list of 100 Essential Beers. 12 Vanberg & DeWulf beers are on that list including Saison Dupont which subsequently was on the same publication’s list of the 20 most influential beers of all time. We think you will enjoy this list.
Avec Les Bons Voeux
Perhaps the most perfect Christmas beer. Also, the one to choose for Thanksgiving turkey. It has a rich gold color; it’s fragrant (lemony with hints of pepper, banana, and clove), as all the Dupont beers are, and has a full, deep, malt richness that lingers on your tongue for what feels like the entire holiday season. Considered by some to be the finest offering from this unparalleled brewery.
Avril, an organic bière de table, weighs in at 3.5 percent ABV, yet is sturdy and nuanced. Dupont brewer Olivier Dedeycker believes that the original saisons were around this gravity. Session beer specialists like Lew Bryson love this. Who needs an industrial lager when this light, bright, flavorful beauty exists?
Dupont Biere de Beloeil
“Rare. The beer with the smallest production from the Dupont Brewery, and winner of the battle of the Belgians. The ideal mix of a Saison and a Belgian Tripel.”
The quintessential saison. Lively and zesty from beginning to end, the beer starts out with a jumble of spicy, fruity, and earthy notes. Then some sweetness arrives, only to be overtaken by brisk hops and a long, dry finish. Another excellent beer to pair with food.”
A proprietary blend of lambic that is virtually still—lambic is to gueuze as chardonnay is to champagne. It’s intensely complex, as it’s blended from two sources. Sour is the new frontier of complexity, and we’ve been working in this realm for over two decades. Beers need not be high in alcohol to be sophisticated.
A mystic marriage of lambic and organic kombucha that was named Experimental of the Year at the U.S. Open of Beer, this is the mimosa of beers. Light, bright, uplifting, and delicious, this is the beer brunch was invented for.
A rare example of a gruit from the endlessly creative Olivier Dedeycker, the brewer at Dupont. Food friendly, low in hops, and max in spices.
Scaldis Prestige de Nuits
“A cask-conditioned strong ale aged in Cotes de Nuits barrels, the best marriage of beer and wood we’ve ever experienced. A perfect 100 on RateBeer and BeerAdvocate three years running from a brewery that’s been in operation longer than Belgium has been a country
The recipe comes from the my husband Don Feinberg, who created the recipes for several beers you might know: Ommegang, Hennepin, Rare Vos, 3 Philosophers. He was the person who first brought Duvel, Rodenbach, Boon lambics, and Saison Dupont to the States. This strong golden ale brewed at Schelde Brouwerij melds Belgian brewing prowess with an American optic. To our delight, Hop Ruiter won top prize as Best New Beer and has become the brewery’s best seller in Belgium, while also receiving great critical acclaim among American beer enthusiasts.”
Anne-Catherine Dilewyns is celebrated as one of a handful of rising star women brewers on the planet, and she’s only 25! This is a category-bending new beer from one of Belgium’s finest. Dilewyns’s beers are never filtered and have a lovely chewy quality.”
“Want to introduce your friends to a great beer they’ve never tasted? Witkap! (Brouwerij Slaghmuylder in Ninove). Witkap Stimulo is a rare example of an abbey singel (what the monks drink for lunch) brewed at inside an incredibly atmospheric example of industrial archaeology, by Karel Goddeau (the blender behind DeCam lambics) using whole flower hops.”
Read the full list here.
You know…at long last bieres de gardes are getting their due. Maybe it took the ascendance of Saison Dupont and the embrace of the style by American craft brewers. Maybe it was the rise of farmstead brewing in America. (we built the first farmstead brewery in the US in 2003 with Ommegang). At any rate American beer lovers are discovering the elegant, nuanced and balanced beers of Brasserie Castelain. We are loving the way that Castelain is tasting on tap at Trencherman with Michael & Patrick Sheerin’s(Jena Georges, Lutece Blackbird etc) delicious dishes in our home town of Chicago.
Castelain Grand Cru won a coveted gold in the World Beer Championships in June 2012. Here’s what the judges wrote:
“Bright amber gem color. Lovely aromas of toasted fruit custard, pastry and delicate spice with a supple fruity, yet dry, medium to full body, and long mouthwatering citrus souffle pepper, and grassy hop flourish. A delicious seamless sipper or table Old World beer.”
This coming month Castelain Grand Cru is is being featured in the Rare Beer Club. They have kindly released their tasting notes to Vanberg & Dewulf . We are delighted AND we agree.
Castelain Grand Cru
Many Bières de Garde are wonderful examples of “hybrid” beer, quite like Germany’s Kölsch. In this case, the hybrid description refers to a beer being top fermented (like an ale) yet cool-aged for an extended period (like a lager). The result is a beer with great depth of flavor, smoothed out by time and low temperatures for 6-10 weeks. Indeed, we’ll advise right upfront that this beer is impressively slaking for a beer of nearly 16 proof. A variant, known simply as Castelain, has been made by the brewery for many years and was described by famed late beer writer Michael Jackson as: “the sweetest among the Bière de Gardes. Earthy, grassy, citrusy, slightly sticky palate, with aromatic maltiness: long finish. A beer to go with food.” Grand Cru is a ramped up version of that beer—the brewery’s strongest, in fact. So let’s stop keeping and start tasting, shall we? Pours a deep, coppery straw color and wears a nice dressing of creamy, off white foam. On the nose, expect a delicately floral aroma. We found it to be lightly honeyed, with a faint note of gingerbread dough. Also distinctly nutty—we interpreted this as almonds, perhaps chestnuts (sweeter nuts). Not surprisingly then, there’s also a very prominent Marzipan note—further showcasing the nutty sweetness of the locally sourced Pas de Calais malt. As it warms, a prominent grassiness develops atop an earthy backdrop. Overall impression: smells like quite a big, rich beer. On the palate, we got a complex blend of moderate sweetness and balancing bitterness, with a minor acidity. A muted funkiness of a farmhouse lilt keeps it rustic within the larger context of balance. Look for notes of orange zest, with the nutty sweetness from the aroma breaking late and holding on into the finish. The bitterness is only moderate, yet contributes toward a very lengthy finish. Overall, this well-carbonated beer showcases a profound balance of malt and hop—truly classic old world beer. But perhaps most notable is the lager-like cleanliness—a result of the ale yeast being fermented at very low temperatures, then cool-conditioned for nearly 10 weeks. For a beer of this caliber and complexity, the refreshing nature is not only impressive, it’s downright dangerous. The label has great suggestions for pairing, and they’re spot on: roast chicken, country sausages (we tried with venison—delicious!), assertively flavored cheeses (our pick was a semi-soft goat cheese, stuffed in mushrooms).
This is a difficult to find beer. While that rarity may tempt you to horde the stuff, should you opt to “garder” your own samples of this beer; we suggest checking in on them over 3-month intervals for no more than a year, as they’ve effectively been pre-aged by the brewery for you. Our proposal is that you serve this one up with numerous meals during these late summer days—and share it with friends whenever possible—especially outdoors where its thirst quenching properties will be best revealed. But do mind that ABV—it’s stronger than it seems!
Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
Alcohol by Volume: 7.8%
Style: Blonde Bière de Garde
Suggested Glassware: Tulip or Oversized Wine Glass
Don and I are back from three months of living and working with our brewers in Belgium, France, Italy, and Iceland. We welcomed almost 60 VIPs during that time, and our new Belgian experts range from press members to sales teams from California, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.
In addition, we are proud to announce a host of new beer medals: we entered nine beers into this year’s World Beer Championships and walked away with 2 platinums, 4 golds, and 3 silvers. Look all the way to your right for information on some of the award-winning beers.
There has been an enormous amount of press about our beers, and there will be more to come between now and the end of summer. Saisons are perfect for the onset of warm weather; Time magazine thinks Saison Dupont is one of the 9 beers you should be drinking this summer and the Weekly Pint pays homage to this “reigning, definitive example of the style.” The recently launched and beautifully curated Food Loves Beer magazine believes saisons are in style all year round, and also named Bière de Miel a wedding-worthy beer.
We are mighty proud of the Dilewyns Family who launched their new brewery in Flanders just about a year ago. The beers is making its way to markets across country. We are so happy that The Rare Beer Club has chosen to feature it in April. They have done a bang up job describing this delicious new dobbel. Read on for their review:
This Month’s Featured Beers – April 2012
Brouwerij Dilewyns (Belgium) Vicaris Generaal
Brouwerij Dilewyns—Dendermonde, Belgium (Northern Central Belgium)
Vicaris Generaal comes to us in a large, cage-corked champagne-style bottle. It pours a clear, burgundy brown capped by a truly everlasting pale beige head. The nose offers plenty of fresh orange, as well as a moderately woody spiciness. Expect other fruity notes to develop as well; we got hints of plum and nectarine and just a splash of grape must. The malts are definitely in charge, delivering ample wafts of fresh baked bread and biscuits, as well as a gentle sweetness. Look for a faint touch of roasted malt as well. There’s a wonderful Belgian “double-ness” that lets you know this is authentic—you just can’t fake that character. This is a real Belgian beauty, with some truly glorious yeast expression in the mix. On the palate, we found that things really got interesting, as the brewery’s unique take on the style became apparent; this is a rather dry double, with more roastiness than expected. The Belgian yeast spiciness is quite prominent, but not at all overbearing, working wonderfully against the relatively minor sweetness. Look for a floral, hoppy quality to come through as well. More fruits will emerge—we got dark cherry and raisins, supplemented by a soft suggestion of nutty molasses. At nearly 9% ABV, it is remarkable that there’s essentially no impression of alcohol in the flavor or aroma. A gentle warming sensation in the belly does occur, but it is surprisingly sneaky (you have to get it to room temperature before the ABV even hints at its levels). Notice the horse on the label—it’s not Trojan*, but wow does it sneak that ABV in on you. Expect it to finish with a subtle vinous character and well-placed hop bitterness.
Abbey Double (or Dubbel) is a difficult style to pull off, and generally speaking, it’s a variant of Belgian ale that often suffers from imbalance—too much sugary sweetness, nips and bites from the high alcohol, a bit rough around the edges, even if smooth in mouthfeel. But not this beer—Vicaris Generaal takes Abbey Double and gives it the poise and balance akin to a German pilsner. That’s what stands out the most to us about this beer—and it’s exactly why it floored us (well… the alcohol content may have aided us in connecting with the floorboards too… but, we digress…). We know it’s from Belgium, so, one anticipates good beer, but from a brewery that opened less than a year ago, finding beer this balanced, with its own distinctive stamp, is quite remarkable. That sly ABV will help in keeping this beer going for years to come—cellar as you see fit—we suggest 6 month intervals up to 2 years.
*The horse on the label is actually a depiction of Bayard, a powerful folkloric horse well known in the area from the saga of the Four Aymon. In short, the knight Aymon, a local vassal of Charlemagne, had four valiant sons. The strongest of them tamed a wild stallion named Bayard. Since at least the 18th century, about every ten years, in Dendermonde, there is an Ommegang (a medieval pageant), featuring a local treasure: a massive wooden sculpture of Bayard that is nearly 15 feet tall, weighs about 1800 pounds, and is actually carried by twelve porters who stand beneath it in hollowed out chambers. During this decennial procession, atop the famed Bayard of Dendermonde sits four local boys, in full metal knights’ armor, representing the four sons of Aymon. It is a sought after honor to sit atop Bayard in this ceremony, and the requirements are strict: the boys must be siblings, aged 7 to 21, with no sisters born between them, and they, their parents and grandparents must have been born in Dendermonde, and, the boys must all still live in town. Why are we getting into all these details? For a cool little bit of trivia: look closely at the figures atop the horse on the label on Vicaris Generaal—they are girls, not boys. Previously, Vincent Dilewyns had challenged convention by trying to have his daughters serve as the Bayard riders, but gender was not negotiable with the officials. So, his four girls adorn the horse on the Dilewyns beer labels, bucking tradition, yet remaining firmly in the saddle—a nice metaphor for the Dilewyns beers themselves.
Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
Alcohol by Volume: 8.8%
Style: Belgian Abbey Double
Suggested Glassware: Chalice or Goblet
If you’d like to order some through the mail, get in touch with our friends at The Rare Beer Club. 800 – 625 – 8238
(Outside US call: 949-206-1904)
P.O. Box 1627, Lake Forest, CA 92609
Out of the blue, Jordan Mcintyre – who manages social networking for Union Beer, our new York distributor of long standing – sent us a series of questions for a profile of Vanberg & DeWulf. How flattering. Herewith are our answers, recently posted on the Greatbrewers.com website. Now please, go out there and show your support for great artisanal Belgian beers!
Written by Jordan McIntyre, March 29, 2012
Inspired by the vastly rich culture of Belgium, Wendy Littlefield and husband Don Feinberg
co-founded Vanberg & DeWulf, a highly-respected beverage importer and producer, in 1982. They vowed to bring only the best, most artisanal Belgian breweries to the US market. Having recently celebrated 30 years in business, Vanberg & DeWulf has proven to be a leading innovator and trend-setter in the industry. Read below to learn about their incredible story and accomplishments. We hope there will be something of interest for people who love beer and/or aspire to run their own businesses.
Wendy, tell us the story of Vanberg & DeWulf. How did it come to be?
Don and I eloped in college and moved to Belgium right after graduation. Once established, we could not help noticing that there was a vibrant, idiosyncratic and utterly fantastic beer culture. Every little town seemed to have its own brewery. Circa 1980 in the US the state of beer was banal and insipid. When it came time for our companies to transfer us back to the States we cooked up the idea to bring a beer, Duvel, with us. By the late 1980s, our portfolio came to represent what we thought was the best indigenous example of every beer style brewed in Belgium – always by an independent family run brewery. Having tasted the great artisanal Belgian beers, can you imagine not wanting to bring them to America? What began as a hobby turned into a lifelong passion.
What are some interesting or unusual facts about Vanberg & DeWulf and/or its brands?
We were the first to do a lot of things in the industry. We were the first people to specialize in bringing Belgian specialty beers to America. Don and I were the first Americans inducted into the Belgian Brewers Guild in its 500 year history. We published the first edition of Michael Jackson’s authoritative The Great Beers of Belgium, now in its 7th printing and the classic work on the topic. In Ommegang we created the first brewery in the US to make all bottle-conditioned cork finished Belgian-style beers. We built the first farmstead Brewery in the US in a century. We invented “Belgium Comes to Cooperstown.” We brewed the nation’s first crowd sourced beer – Three Philosophers. We are the first “outsiders” to be permitted to blend our own lambics (Lambickx line). We created a new beer style with Lambrucha (a blend of lambic and kombucha) which was named “experimental beer of the year in 2011″ at the US Open of Beer. Vanberg & DeWulf was the first to bring revered brands/styles of beer to the USA: Saison Dupont, Boon lambics, the original Duvel, Rodenbach and Rodenbaach Grand Cru, De Cam, Affligem, Scaldis. We brought the first Belgian organic beers to market in the States (Foret, Avril, Biere de Miel). Our portfolio has become the most decorated collection of Belgian beers in annals of importing to USA.