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Amsterdam & Belgium - Part 12 - St. Bernardus & Rodenbach

Posted by Rich Link on 12/02/2003 07:55:14 PM

May 27 – Roeselare & Poperinge

After breakfast, Bernadette had arranged a tour of the brewery for us. Her husband Guy guided us into the brewery and passed us off to Gabriel. Guy doesn’t speak English, and Gabriel was quite good, and also very energetic. We got a great tour. Gabriel answered all of my questions. I plan to brew a St. Bernardus 12 clone this weekend with yeast reclaimed from a bottle of St. Bernardus Tripel. My fingers are crossed. Anyway, the tour was very enlightening, and we enjoyed Gabriel's personable touch.

When making plans for this trip, I had contacted Peter Bouckaert at New Belgium to see if he had any connections at Rodenbach that would get us a tour. He put me in touch with Nancy, who scheduled an English tour on the day that I had requested.

The drive from Watou to Roeselare was about 90 minutes. Roeselare was another surprise. It’s a fairly large and busy city, especially compared to Watou. Traffic was a bit hectic. We found a place to park near the train station, then walked into the Centrum. Again, many shops were closed. We made our way to a pub called Het Bourgondisch Kruis, a somewhat sterile pub, but it had beer, and we were WUPT. I ordered the Palm Royal, a celebratory beer for the anniversary of the brewery? So-so. Teresa got Boon Framboise, excellent raspberry flavors, very lively, but not very sour.

We continued our walk through town, and made our way to the Rodenbach brewery. At the gates to the brewery, I was reminded of the movie “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.” To me, the Rodenbach brewery was hallowed ground. The history was stirring. Although Palm has dampened spirits a bit, the Grand Cru is still a world-class beer.

We met Nancy and were told we’d be joining a group from Britain. We went into the theatre to watch a film, and the place filled up with Brits whose average age must have been at least 70. Some were over 90! They were all well-behaved, and seemed to have a grand time, except at the end of the tour when it came to sampling the beer. For the most part, they didn’t like the beers very much. Which worked out well for Teresa and me.

The tour was a bit cheesy, but wandering through the underground tunnels was worth all of the time spent looking at defunct malt roasters and steam engines, etc. I loved being in the cellar with all of those huge wooden aging vessels. We picked up some souvenirs and hit the road.

We drove to Poperinge and stopped at the Palace Hotel for a drink or two. Verhaeghe Noel Christmas Weihnacht looked inviting, but was not so great. Sweetish, gassy, with little flavor. Moinette Biologique was yeasty, dry and spicy. Brug’s Tarwebier was thirst-quenching, with some tang in the light body. Celis White by Van Steenberge had a slight diacetyl aroma, and was a very disappointing beer.

Hopped back in the car and made our way to Watou, and stopped at the Gasthof De Eendracht, on the south side of the main square. A small locals joint, with a short beer list. After some language issues, we finally got a look at the beer list. We tried Watou Kapittel 10, lively, dry, yeasty, hoppy and well-balanced. Teresa ordered another Duvel.

Back at the Inn, we had the 8 and a couple of 12’s with De Dolle pate and bread, while we made our plans for the next day, Teresa’s birthday.

Tomorrow – a tour of the French coast

Amsterdam & Belgium - Part 12 - St. Bernardus & Rodenbach - Rich Link, 12/02/03 07:55:14 PM
        LOL - Joris P., 12/03/03 01:51:20 AM

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