Further to my mention of BBBBourgondiër, I had a look down the 24 Hour Beer Festival list for others of this strength, i.e. 12%. There were two: Leyerth's Urthel Samaranth (stand 31); and De Dolle Brouwers' Stille Nacht Reserva 2000 (stand 14). I am particularly interested in this latter beer, since I noticed some wine casks at the brewery in December, 2001 and asked Kris Herteleer, the brewer, about them. There is a photo of them on my rather long "Past Beer Hunts" page on my Web site, www.whitebeertravels.com/past, which has not had the makeover treatment yet) From the conversation and follow up investigation, I came up with the following, which clearly marks this beer out as being something very special and unique, one that is sure to be popular, so get your sample at the festival early:
the wine casks contained a proportion of the previous year's (2000) Stille Nacht batch maturing in them. The casks were bunged with upturned, empty Stille Nacht bottles. The casks were not casks that had been used for any old wine; they were from the Château Léoville-las-Cases, from the Saint Julien commune. In the 1855 classification of Bordeaux wines, only five were put into the highest category: 1er Grand Cru Classé. These were Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Margaux, Chateau Haut-Brion, and Château Mouton-Rothschild (actually elevated to this class in the 20th Century). Note that, some wines have developed super status since 1855, but, unlike Château Mouton-Rothschild, have not bothered with going through the legal process of fighting to be declared 1er Grand Cru Classé. The classic example is Château Pétrus which is consistently France's and indeed the world's most expensive wine each year.
There were only fourteen in the second category (2ème Cru Classé), including, Château Léoville-las-Cases. Information on the classification system is given on the the Web page www.klwines.com/1855_classification.asp. Château Léoville-las-Cases is, in fact, a neighbour of 1er Grand Cru Classé Château Latour. Naturally, Château Léoville-las-Cases is a particularly expensive wine, i.e. in December, 2001, I spotted a 1990 (not a particularly good year) in a specialist wine merchants at €360 (£220 at £1=€1.62). More information on the wine, including a label reproduction, are given in the following Web page: www.winetoday.com/wineguide/encyclopedia/wg_encyclopedia_entry_1394.html, this being from Oz Clarke/New York Times's excellent Web site: www.winetoday.com.
The casks were actually obtained via Cantillon, the renowned producer of Lambics and derivatives in the Brussels suburb of Anderlecht, who have very good relationships with a number of renowned wine producers in Bordeaux. The nature of Cantillon's fruit beers are that whole fruit is added to Lambic. Therefore, when, for example, red grapes are used, the Lambic is actually takes to the wine producing region itself. For example, Cantillon Saint Lamvinus was produced by soaking red grapes (Merlot and Cabernet Franc) from Château Bel-Air in St. Émilion, in a selection of Cantillon Lambics, in oak barrels at the château itself. The corks in this beer were in fact from Château Bel-Air, i.e. it was also bottled there.
The beer that Kris was maturing in the wine casks will be called "Stille Nacht Reserva 2000". Reserva is a Spanish wine term implying that the wine has been stored in wood for a defined period of time (for a Red Rioja it means a minimum of twelve months, the term Gran Reserva, meaning a minimum of two years, see the Web page www.trinor.com/WineEN/AgeingEN.html. Clearly a beer for the Train Spotter to watch out for. It should also be outstanding.