The UK has one of the most experimental and progressive brewing scenes in the world, a scene that has thrived over the last few years. There is no doubt that in the UK we have taken influence from the US, where the craft beer scene has been booming since the 90’s.
However, from a quality and diversity of beer perspective, we in the UK and the US are just newbies compared to the folks in Belgium. They’ve been making weird and wonderful varieties of all styles for hundreds of years. Because these great historic breweries have been around for so long they very often get forgotten in amongst the newest breweries on the block.
This month, for the May 2015 Lockbox, we’ve gone distinctly Belgian, and we are pretty damn excited about it! Alongside our Belgian trio we also have some of the very best new breweries on the planet, giving you a real balance of new and old. A blend of progressive, experimental and traditional. In fact, all the things that make beer wonderful.
First up we have the legend that is Orval. One of just a few Trappist breweries in the world, brewed by Monks adhering to the Trappist traditions, the brewery follow an unusual tack by only producing one beer (this one) for general sale. If drank young, the beer will have a nose of fresh hops, will be fruity to the taste with a bitter hop bite to it. Orval is generally considered a great aged beer so, if you have the patience, then sit her aside for around 9 months to a year and drink on a special occasion (or when you are thirsty..).
Dutchess de Borgongne. A West Flanders Red Brown Ale, world famous and sought after far and wide. After the main fermentation the beer is aged in oak barrels giving the beer a real taste of red wine tannins. Sweet and fruity, tannins to finish, the beer is delicious. World famous for a reason!
One of the new wave of the Belgian beer scene, Troubadour have been around since 2000. Troubadour Magma is a beautiful blend of the old and the new. A belgian IPA at 9%, this beer has the bitterness of a US IPA with the fruitiness of a belgian triple. It is a difficult balance to achieve, but one that the young upstarts from Flanders have risen to.
Returning to the UK, Thornbridge Chiron is an American Pale Ale at 5%. Thornbridge really are the daddies of the UK craft scene having been doing great experimental beers in the Peak District for over 10 years. Chiron is a well balanced hop hit over a light malt backbone, really allowing the hops to shine.
Heading back to Belgium for inspiration, Somerset based Wild Beer have created a farmhouse ale aged in gooseberries and fermented with their house strain of wild yeast.Wild Goose Chase is 4.5%, a little tart (but not sour), just a hint of hops coming through, making this beer sharp, fruity and massively drinkable!
When head brewer Mike Murphy joined Lervig they were doing some decent beer, but not groundbreaking. Just a few years later Lervig have risen to the very top of the pile, creating beers like Hoppy Joe, a 4.7% American Red Ale showcasing all that is awesome about US hops (and, rather unusually for a US Red, Nelson Sauvin hops from NZ). Piney, tropical and citrus fruits, with a distinctly grapey back to it, all poured over a caramel malt backbone. It’s no wonder Mike is recognised as one of the world’s leading brewers.
Hawaii is known for many things, but great beer is not usually at the top of the list. That’s a travesty as Kona (as well as Maui Brewing) are doing some really great beers!Kona Castaway is a 6% IPA. Clean and crisp, light caramel malts creating a platform for the strong citrus hops to come though. A really great example of an American IPA, drinkable and bold.
Last up we have the Bristol new kids Wiper and True. With a new brewery at their disposal and energy to burn the guys have been cracking out new beer after new beer recently. One of these is Small Beer, a 2.6% pale with all that is great about strong IPA’s, without the ABV! A true Small Beer, with a hop hit and malt character that, tasted blind, would lead you to think you were drinking a 6+ percent beer!
So that’s our line-up for May all set out for you. A true mix of old and new, with flavours truly from around the world. Remember, we always write up extra detail on a selection of the beers, giving a lot of history and some extra notes. You’ll find this month’s appearing over the next few days, in advance of your box delivery. Check them out any time here on the website.
If you’re not yet joined up, then get involved – you could have a selection like this at your doorstep every month. Find more details here.