Monday, 16 August 2010

Beer from Croatia

At the end of one of my tastings at the Great British Beer Festival I was approached by a man who identified himself as Matt Hollingsworth, an American working in Croatia where he brews his own beer as the local offerings are not up to much.
He gave me a bottle of the dauntingly-named Caligula, an Imperial Stout brewed on the anniversary of the Roman Emperor's murder: he was the tyrant who made his horse a senator.
The beer is 8.5% alcohol and is brewed with Maris Otter pale malt, roasted barley, crystal malt, carafa 2 and chocolate malt, and hopped with Northdown for bitterness and Cascade and East Kent Goldings for aroma and flavour. When I raised a quizzical eyebrow at this impressive list of ingredients, Matt said he had no problem getting supplies sent to Croatia.
I've given my liver a week to recover from GBBF and drank Caligula (so to speak) last night. The cynics among you may hope it tasted like horse piss but it's an absolute delight, with great depth of flavour and rich notes of roasted grain, coffee, liquorice and peppery hops. It tastes as good as any commercial brew.
And -- sorry -- you can't compare notes because it's home brew. But I will happily pass on Matt's email address to anyone planning to visit Croatia.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Devil buys the King

De Koninck, the iconic Antwerp brewery, has been bought by Duvel Moortgat, best known for its strong golden ale, Duvel -- Devil in Flemish. De Koninck -- the name means the King -- has been struggling with a declining market share and has been looking for a business partner. There were rumours a few weeks ago that Heineken was interested in taking over De Koninck and the agreement with Duvel Moortgat of Breendonck will be met with a sigh of relief by beer lovers.
De Koninck is considered to brew the finest interpretation of pale ale in Belgium, a beer served in Antwerp in a legendary glass known as a Bolleke or little goblet. The arrangement with Duvel Moortgat is similar to the one reached between Palm, Belgium's biggest ale brewer, and Rodenbach, the producer of sour red beer. There were concerns at the time that the Rodenbach plant would close but Palm has invested large sums in the brewery at Roeselare, new brands have been introduced and pubs bought.