Beer Advocate’s Return of the Belgian Beer Fest ’08 is nearly upon us. In case you have clicked over to this post from the forums, check out my post from yesterday on some quick suggestions as to what Boston offers for beer joints during your brief visit. As I will normally do with these lists, I base them partly on what I have been able to try, brewery reputation, how limited the beer is, and how intriguing the description is (if there is one). Most of all these are meant to be just for fun and to start up a conversation about what will be at the fest.
This is for the main sessions only. There will be a post about Night of the Funk later today or tomorrow.
10. Samuel Adams Knee Deep Kriek – The folks from Boston Beer Co. appear to be bringing some new beers/one-offs. Along with the Kriek, the brewery will showcase a Belgian Strong Ale, Red Ale, a double IPA called Triple Double, and a Blonde Ale. Boston Beer Co. will be taking part in its first Belgian Beer Fest now that it will soon be the country’s largest All-American beermaker. This will occur after the finalization of the Belgian takeover of Anheuser-Busch, who just released American Ale. Go figure.
9. St. Bernardus Abt 12, Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru, and Tripel Karmeliet. – A toss up depending on what your style preference is. One of the best strong ales vs. one of the best quads vs. one of the best tripels. An argument could be made for these being considered benchmarks in their respective styles. If they weren’t available year-round to most of us, they would be higher on the list. I just noticed Rochefort 8 on the list, too, which deserves mention (like too many other beers).
8. Allagash Interlude – When I first had this, I didn’t know what Brett was. This is classified either as a Pale or Strong Ale, not an American Wild Ale, depending on which site you are on. It makes a good introduction for anyone who hasn’t been exposed to brett at all before. Light fruits and a very dry finish from what I remember. These bottles carry a high price tag so it is the perfect opportunity to give it a shot.
7. Duvel and Duvel Draft – Duvel sponsors the event and will be debuting its Duvel Draft product for the U.S. market. The full press release can be found here. There is certainly some skepticism around the release of Duvel on tap for the first time. The public will be able to try it starting next month so it should be interesting to see what the post-fest thoughts are.
6. Weyerbacher Thirteen – This is a massive Belgian-inspired stout commemorating the brewery’s thirteenth anniversary. The ABV level on it is nearly 14%. Some have argued that it could use some aging but I gave it a 4.5/5 fresh out of the bottle. I picked up another few bottles and will cellar a couple to see what happens. [Update: Second bottle seemed a little hot to me (I don't think it was inconsistency) but felt that it was masking some of the complexity. Overall, still over a 4 for me and yes, I would agree now that the beer could use some aging!]
5. Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor – I have heard good things, mostly around the idea of balance between the hop profile and the malt bill. I still need to pick up a bottle. Read Nick’s review.
4. Lost Abbey Orphan Annie – This looks new. The description says, “Single unblended bbl of Lost and Found Abbey Ale in a used bourbon bbl w/ house cultures; 8.0%.” Arthur has proven his capabilities time and time again so I am not about to deny him of a top five spot here.
3. The Bruery Barrel-Aged Levud’s and Batch No. 1 Levud’s – How often do you get the opportunity to taste a rare beer next to an even more rare barrel-aged version of it? What the Bruery has been able to accomplish in its first year is dynamite. And wait until you see the Night of the Funk list.
2. Ithaca Whiskey Tripel and Brute – This brewery has done very well to establish itself in the upper ranks with beer connoisseurs in the last couple of years. And this is arguably its most successful year to date in that regard, considering it was named best New York brewery at the Tap NY fest. Here, the Whiskey Tripel looks like a one-off debut. Are there other breweries that have done that to a Tripel? Then there is the Brute which reads like it could be along the lines of Allagash’s Interlude. Light funkiness and very dry. Brute has been a huge hit as an Excelsior! Series beer.
1. New Belgium La Folie – One of the most well-known sour ales ever produced in the U.S. It is quite possible that some festgoers have traded for it by now, but if you haven’t, this beer is making a rare appearance in New England. It is one of the only beers that will be present that has a 4+ rating at RateBeer. Abt 12 is the only beer rated above it at Beer Advocate that will be at the fest.