Back To Basics: Put Some Gulden Draak In Your Belfry

(Sponsored) – In a world where we are blessed with great local beer, sometimes it’s necessary to go back into that spirit of trying something out of one’s comfort zone. Something from Belgium, and big enough to survive the spoils of travel. Enter, Gulden Draak.

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Global Beer Network Rep Natasha with a few Van Steenberge bieres at The Clay Oven

My first run-in with Gulden Draak was at a pub night at Irvine’s Indian Food stalwart, The Clay Oven. Everything from tandoor-roasted bone marrow to a lamb stuffed naan married well with the beer, and I must admit, was the first time seeing such great beer at an Indian restaurant. One beer I kept going back to was Gulden Draak, a 10.5% dark tripel with just enough going on to pair with just about everything. It was also this beer where I learned a valuable lesson in beer pairing: “sweet calms heat,” something to remember when ordering those dynamite habanero wings.

gulden draak tripel ocbeerblog

White bottle, dark tripel

Revisiting the beer today, I can see why it stood out. The husky ruby-brown beer pours with an abundance of frothy white foam, instantly sending aromas of dark fruits up the ol’ wafting tunnel. Once the quickly expanding head settles, the aromas keep rolling: caramel, clove, and banana bread burst around hints of sweet alcohol. The flavor is reminiscent of a barley wine carried by spicy Belgian yeast, but the body is light enough to fool you into thinking it’s okay to drive after a glass. It’s totally not. Gulden Draak is all about proper transportation.

gulden draak 9000 ocbeerblogGoing a few steps higher up the belfry is Gulden Draak 9000, which comes in the black bottle. 9000 is one of Belgium’s great quadruples, and is named for the zip code in Ghent, Belgium, where the actual golden dragon sits on top of the tallest belfry. It pours surprisingly lighter than the dark tripel in the white bottle, but 9000 is all about the dark fruits, which unashamedly lifts its skirt on the alcohol, despite only being .2% higher. Fermented peach, caramel, dark fruits, and booze run the flavor…which is decadent and highly quaffable despite the sheer girth of this beer.

One of the best parts of these overlooked beers is their availability, where a trip to any local big box wine or beer store has 11.2oz bottle four packs, 750ml, and in some cases, the magnum, which is super fun to crack at a party.

Visit Gulden Draak’s facebook page to #ConquertheDragon yourself and enter to win swag!

Lost: Abbey

GNAG0255“Excuse me, you look familiar,” I say to a deadpan bald man with glasses, holding a pitcher of beer with a puffy vest jacket. He pours me three fingers of a cloudy gold beer. “I don’t think we’ve met,” he says as I squint and take whiff. Croissant and a lick of caramel on the nose, I think to myself…where have I had this beer?

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@TheTomme

“I’m Tomme Arthur, pleased to meet you.” I totally knew that. I just get bashful when meeting pioneers of the beer business. “This is Avant Garde, our farmhouse lager.”

GNAG0267On the back patio of Verdugo Bar (a Ryan Sweeney joint), picnic tables are strewn about topped with Delirium Tremens pink elephant umbrellas and beer signs from around the globe. Each table is filled with corked and caged Lost Abbey beers and lit beer label veladoras. Surprising is the total lack of petrichor despite a windy downpour that ended an hour ago.

The evening is hosted by The Lost Abbey for industry publicans and bottle shop big wigs. A few beer writers were sprinkled in for good measure; I’m glad to get the call.

GNAG0258The Lost Abbey, San Diego’s only quality volume sour/funky beer producer (in my opinion), is here to re-introduce themselves and do a tasting of rare beers. L.A. and O.C. have a wealth of quality mixed fermentation breweries, and sometimes a gentle reminder of what the pioneers can do is a breath of fresh air.

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Jon Sanchez receives holy communion

Jon Sanchez, owner of Native Son Alehouse in downtown Santa Ana, noted, “Lost Abbey kegs are reasonable compared to the competition.” From my standpoint, It seems like pints of Lost Abbey beers cost more. He went on to add that one L.A. brewery raised the price of their kegs to keep cost in line with what some establishments charge for pints. The perception that wild ales cost more isn’t always the case.

GNAG0269Over three hours, we rifled through nine beers, pouring faster than consumption. Veritas 17 with Blackberries was my absolute favorite, noting it smelled like fresh linens stained with fresh berry jam, and was super soul-refreshing. I do hope we see some of these showing up on tap handles soon, as it seems the most storied barrel programs in the U.S. needs to get back on the front page.

Beers sampled:

  • Avant Garde – farmhouse lager
  • Devotion – dry hopped Belgian blonde
  • Hop 15
  • Red Poppy – sour with cherries
  • Veritas 17 – sour with blackberries
  • Cuvee de Tomme – 15
  • Cuvee de Tomme – 09
  • C-9 – barley wine with peaches aged in conjac barrels
  • Ad Idem – sour with peaches.

The Bruery Plants Roots With New Beer

IMG_8403When sampling beer, the power of suggestion is infinite. Pour a black beer and your brain gets ready for chocolate, coffee or roast. With a steaming hot burrito from a taco truck wrapped in foil, your brain tells the senses to expect a pillowy hot tortilla, juicy meats, and creamy guacamole to balance things out. “Get that mouth watering”, you brain tells your glands, counting on that luscious first bite.

When news of the Bruery’s new Belgian pale ale, Jardinier (French for Gardener) hit, my brain quickly put together the flavor profile notes I should expect in a precise, beer advocate-ish annoying way.

“It should taste like a Belgian-style pilsner-malted ale”, my brain told my senses. “It should smell fruity and spicy with some wet hay notes; because I clearly know Bruery beer aroma profiles,” my brain continued in its best drunken Todd Alstöm Boston accent.

Then my arms and hands poured it. My brain shut off and let my senses take over as I smelled it.  Nose in the glass like a bee in a bush, my nose reports back confidently, “musty rose petals, peach nectar and over ripe mango.” My simple brain forces my face to make a knowing look, nodding dorkishly with my bottom lip sticking out as if to say, “I fucking knew it,” even though I was completely wrong.

The honey-hazed beer looking back at me, I take a few sips and wait for what my palate reports back. Perplexed, it repeats the sip several times. “Is the name of the beer literal?” my brain nags. My tongue reports confidently “cherry tomatoes” to my brain and my brain is saying, “you have the worst palate on the face of the fucking planet.”

“It’s like the acidity of a ripe juicy cherry tomato, with a retro-nasal aroma-flavor of a garden-fresh tomato, you asshole!” my tongue and nose report back. My emotions tell everyone to chill the fuck out at this point. “It’s a thinking beer that tastes good,” my emotions say, trying to chill the situation like a mental fire extinguisher.

Wrapping it up, my brain causes my shoulders to shrug and lungs to sigh as the beer is now sadly empty. It commands the laptop to be opened and type these words.

Jardinier is a fascinating beer for 4.9% ABV. At first I wondered why the Bruery would make a gardeners lawnmower beer (based on the name). After sipping, that’s not the intention at all. it lends itself toward a table beer pairing excellently with fresh vegetables, salad, bruschetta and other delicate tapas. It’s refreshing, palate cleansing and most of all…interesting.

Thanks to the Bruery for a preview bottle. This beer will probably be in your hand and brain soon. 

Beer for Boobs Event at the Globe 3/26

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Tuesday March 26 at 6:30, the Globe in Garden Grove is hosting a YUGE Beer for Boobs event! If you haven’t been to the Globe, they’re a Belgian expatriate-ran pan-euro gastropub with more Belgian beer taps than you can shake a trappist monk at.

The event will host:

  • Four course prix fixe Belgian beer paired dinner! – $40 online, $45 at door. If you have issues ordering online, call direct at 714-537-7471 from 4pm (M-S)
  • Bottle share with purchase of a Beer for Boobs glass (bring a bottle)!
  • Silent Auction benefiting Beer for Boobs!

Dinner includes:

• Blanche De Bruxelles with Baby Endive, shaved fennel, lemon and white pepper dressing, and crumbled Feta.
• Leffe Brune with Prosciutto wrapped scampi shrimp, skewered with rosemary sprigs.
• Chimay Tripel with Skirt steak florets.
• Straffe Hendrik Quad with Crème brûlée with a few spicy candied pecans.

Silent Auction!

I'd give my left teste for this box of westy

I’d give my left teste for this box of westy

A hand-carried from the mother land super rare box  of Wesvleteren
Degustatiebox Trappist Westvleteren!

  • 1 Authentic Trappist Westvleteren Chalice
  • 1 Bottle Trappist Westvleteren b4b donated 212 (Quad)
  • 1 Bottle Trappist Westvleteren 8 (Dubbel)
  • 2 Bottle Trappist Westvleteren Blond (Pale)
  • Other rare donated bottles and memorabeeria from the restaurant owners, distributors and superfans, like this bottle of St. Martin’s Cloak from Brasserie De Brunehaut (Only 7,500 bottles produced and released in late 2012 – thanks to Mario Valle of Liguor Mart Whittier) and others from Julie Lim of OC Wine Mart in Irvine.

Bottle Share!

Buy a Beer for Boobs glass and bring a tasty bottle of beer to share! The B4B team will be on hand as well with tshirts, coozies and other goodies.

On tap at the Globe:

b4b taplist b4b bottles

About Beer for Boobs:

Beer for Boobs is a super walking, super cancer fighting walking crew. The idea for this fabulous team was born at White Labs in 2008. We wanted to raise yeast by day, and stomp out breast cancer by the mile. Our fearless leader & Vice President of White Labs, Lisa White, collected her superhuman yeast ranchers & friends to create our breast cancer fighting crew. Our crew walks 60 miles in 3 days this November to fight against breast cancer.