Archive for the 'Lambic' Category

Max’s Belgian Beer Festival

If you had walked into Max’s Taphouse this past Thursday, you might have been sorely disappointed. The world-famous Charm City bar that otherwise boasts 140 rotating drafts and 1200 bottles had no drafts available and a limited bottle selection. Though it sounds like a dismal scene, Max’s was taking these measures to prepare for one of their biggest annual events—The Belgian Beer Festival. A 3-day event, the festival offers the largest selection of Belgian beer in the US—over 100 Belgian drafts and 200 bottles. In addition, the food menu that is otherwise saturated with gastro-pub fare experiences a Belgian makeover. Here at BarleyDine we know that nothing goes together like beer and food!

Beer lovers lined up for a taste of Belgium

I arrived at the festival on Saturday afternoon, eager to tear into some Belgian pints and plates. Not surprisingly, the line was out the door, though moving steadily. In speaking to those that had attended the event previously, we learned that we were in for a “nut-to-butt” situation once we were inside. Yes, nut-to-butt, because shoulder-to-shoulder really does not serve to describe how uncomfortably crowded it was. But that’s all part of the fun, right? Pro-tip: Go with a partner, that way you can take turns fetching beer and grub without compromising the precious couple inches of flat surface (barstool, windowsill, banaster, etc.) you managed to stake out.

See what I mean?

The food menu offered moules (mussels) prepared three different ways, a cheese plate, a meat plate, a couple salads, and a few sandwiches. I’m admittedly a shellfish lover, so I decided to start with the Moules Grand-Mère. The mussels are presented in a creamy beer sauce with bacon and in this case the beer was a framboise, which I thought was a very interesting choice. I paired this with Lindemans framboise lambic and it made for a lovely appetizer!

Moule Grand-Mère and Lindemans Framboise

Lindemans framboise is heavily carbonated and has loads of wonderful raspberry tartness, which gives it a champagne quality. It’s very drinkable with an ABV of only about 3%. The salty, smoky, crunchy bacon offset the sweet, creamy mussels really nicely. Though the raspberry is very forthright in this lambic, it was an unobtrusive compliment to the mussels and it brought out the framboise in the sauce that might have been too subtle to notice on its own.

Endive Salad with Barbãr

Later in the day I went for one of the salads—a Belgian endive salad with honey goat cheese, green apples, walnuts, and citrus vinaigrette. I paired this with Barbãr (a Belgian Honey Ale) by Brasserie Lefèbvre. This was a treat! The ale had a spicy citrus and coriander character at first, but the last note was of pure honey sweetness. The bitter endives and tart apples were nicely contrasted with the sweetness of this ale, while the honey in the goat cheese was able to shine through. Absolutely delightful! I can’t imagine a better pairing for this salad.

Other notables:  Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch on cask, Stillwater/Emelisse Collaboration Holland Oats, an amber ale with apples and oats—surprisingly hoppy with a strong apple cider flavor. I talked to several people who were excited to see so many sours on the menu, so if sours are your thing, don’t miss this festival next year!

Max's bartenders were hard at work all weekend.

If you get a chance to visit Max’s, I would highly recommend it. They have beers you never even knew you wanted to try. They also host a German beer festival in the fall that I’m sure will not disappoint. Cheers!



On the release day, 300 bottles of Frambozen sold out in under 20 minutes. I was fortunate to score a case, which I purchased to give out to several gents scattered about the country. I had figured two bottles for myself. One to partake of and one to cellar. Then I decided to trade one of my bottles for two Rode Harrings and skip aging one. Turns out, I miscounted and ended up with only one bottle and already had the trade set. I had to give up all the Frambozen without trying any. I was pretty disappointed.

It’s been a month since my mathematical mishap and another Bullfrog release was on the brink. As I emailed the fella’s I get beer for, we began figuring out whether we would trade the beers or if I’d just get my money back. In one of the emails, I mentioned that I didn’t get any Frambozen, so one of the guys offered to trade one back for the next release. Of course I jumped all over that.

I anxiously awaited the return of the precious Frambozen. Upon it’s arrival I immediately chilled it down for a glorious night of sour indulgence. The time had come and I quickly, or so I thought removed the cork. Bullfrog corks tend to be a bit stuborn though. Anyway, the aroma on the cork was tart and sour, the pour revealed a burgundy colored body. Frambozen reminded me a lot of Rose de Gambrinus by Cantillon. Which is a remarkable feet for a small brewery in the heart of PA. Cantillon has been making Wild beers for hundreds of years.

Overall, fantastic tart, sour flavor and aroma. Nice light body and remarkably drinkable with a hint of raspberry flavor. Pair this beer with very sweet deserts, such as plain cheesecake or cakes with cream cheese frostings. Explore this world of sour beers and try to get ahold of some of the Bullfrogs special releases.

beer + food = Barleydine


   There are several great beer and desert pairings out there. Stouts and Hefe’s are both great beers to pair with those dishes that sooth the sweet tooth. I would have to say though, that the best beer and desert pairing was the one that my wife and I enjoyed tonight. I was in the mood for cheesecake and so I needed to find the right beer to match. I know what your all thinking, you put wine with desert. Wrong, wine fails at every chance to enhance the flavor of food, especially desert. I had just the beer in mind as I walked through the store. Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic was that exact match. The history behind this beer is incredible, the style itself has been around for hundreds of years. This particular brewery has been around for nearly two hundred years. For those of you that don’t know, Lambic is a very unique and complex style. They are spontaneously fermented, where the brewmaster leaves the vat open for microflora to infest the beer and go to work. These natural, wild yeasts create flavors far outside those the majority of us are used to. Now, unless you make a trip to Belgium, you won’t get a pure Lambic. What we get here are blended Lambic’s. We can get those blended with fruit, like we had tonight, Framboise is raspberries. The same company brews the same lambic with peaches or cherry’s also. Within the US you can also get Gueuze, which is new lambic blended with an older lambic and then fermented again. These are incredible beers, hints of earthy tones and flavors. Acidic tastes are quite prevalent also. The acid taste actually takes up where hops are not. Lambics use hops that are aged for 3 years, in which they lose their bitterness properties, yet retain their power to preserve. This beer style does not depend on hops to take up the flavor, it takes advantage of the yeast and in this case the fruit. Also, very prevalent with this beer is carbonation, which is abundant and sharp. So, enough about the style itself, on to the pairing of the evening.

   I had to stop at the grocery store, so I slid through the desert section and found some cheesecake. Now, I could have made it, I’ve made it before, but time was the major factor. You know what I mean, when you are craving something, you want it then.  On my way out of the store I slipped into the beer aisle and grabbed me a Lambic. I prefer either the Framboise (raspberry) or the Peche (peach), but my wife is not a peach fan, so raspberry it was. We had a very simple dinner tonight, consisting of a cheeseburger and chips. I did though have a beer with my cheeseburger (Magic Hat Roxy Rolles). I didn’t bother photographing that one, because I have already done a write about that dinner and that beer. Anyway, after dinner was all cleaned up it was time for a desert. Something we don’t often have here. I don’t know how many of you have had a lambic, but my wife never had, so I was pretty excited to show her a whole new world of beer. I prepared the cheesecake by removing it from the packaging it came in. I grabbed some champagne flutes (the recommended lambic glass), cracked the bottle and gave it a pour. Upon opening the bottle I took a quick sniff of the bottle, which was packed full of raspberry aroma and then a nice undertone of an earthy, dirt smell. It was a wonderful contrast. I began to pour a glass, the beer flowing out was a deep merlot color and the pouring released even more raspberry aroma. The head built into a light and delicate pinkish foam, that quickly dissipated to a much smaller, lasting head. Raspberry flavor nails you upon first sip, but with further inspection, one can distinguish the acidity and flavors of the yeast. We were eating plain cheesecake which didn’t seem so plain with Framboise Lambic, the raspberry flavor of the beer accompanied the desert so well, it picked up where the cheesecake left off. The carbonation is sharp on the tongue, much like champagne, which did a wonderful job of clearing the palette after each bite. I would have to say this is the best desert pairing I’ve ever experienced. Sure, Stout and chocolate can be tasty, but there is a delicate, yet earthy flavor to this pairing. The flavors are bright, which is very apparent in every taste. Each of these items should be easily found in any good grocery store. Be sure to seek this one out, you won’t be disappointed. Guaranteed!

beer + food = barleydine


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