Brouwerij Bavik and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse - Camaraderie Ale

Brouwerij Bavik and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse - Camaraderie Ale

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club

Style:

Belgian Saison

Country:

Belgium

Alcohol by Volume:

8.00%

Brouwerij Bavik and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse - Camaraderie Ale

  • Alcohol by Volume: 8.00%
  • Bottle Size: No
  • Serving Temperature: 40-45° F
  • Suggested Glassware: Tulip or Pint Glass
Camaraderie Ale is packaged in a manner that elevates the image of beer: a gold foil-wrapped, cage-corked champagne bottle with an attractive label. From the look of it, you’d think it had been around for years, but this is a brand new creation (albeit a year in the making). The beer pours a bright, clear, dark straw color, capped by a nearly white head that blankets the beer nicely and clings to the sides of the glass, creating some nice Belgian lace patterns. This collaboration beer integrates US hops, and while unexpected for the typical Belgian beer, the nose offers up plenty of characteristically ‘US hop’ aromatics. Look for notes of oranges, apricots, pine, grapefruit and a flourish of spicy, fresh cut wood (like juniper trunk, perhaps spruce). Suggestions of black pepper emerge as it warms. Beneath the initial surge of hoppiness are some of the hallmarks of an Abbey Tripel—expect yeasty notes, spicy phenolics, floral tones and malty sweetness. As is to be expected, alcohol notes are present as well, but they are not off-putting, instead, they work perfectly with all the other spicy, sweet, floral, citrusy notes that flutter about. We also picked up some notes of lime in the aroma. The skilled brewers behind this beer have done a wonderful job of integrating the often unbridled ‘US hoppiness’ into the style; something that could easily have gone terribly wrong turns out to be a brilliant maneuver and twist on the style. Things get really interesting, however, when the beer hits the palate. The initial impressions are of tart lime, blended with a bit of dry white wine, and an abundant dryness that usually takes longer to build, typically showing up as a finishing note, but takes center stage in this beer. In the moments after the first sip, yeasty notes develop, then, the full force of the spiciness from the alcohol, hops and Belgian yeast strain converge to deploy notes of white pepper and herbal qualities (mugwort comes to mind, for those homebrewers who have used it – or any Harry Potter sorcerers in training out there), as well as a tingling, mentholated character and a distinct note of cardamom. Finishes with a Flemish-style tartness, subtle woodiness and impressions of freshly cut grass. This is absolutely not your typical abbey tripel, nor your standard US or Belgian Pale Ale. It has elements of both, but also qualities of a Flemish sour ale. This rare offering is a hybrid in the purest sense, and were it not a one-off brew, it very well could set the standard for an entirely new style of beer. Overall we found it extremely intriguing, unusual, bold and synergistic. After you’ve experienced it on its own, try pairing with Nuclear Chili (meaning very spicy), pork Vindaloo Curry, or a meat-lover’s deep dish pizza.
Does the world need another collaboration beer? Brothers and sisters, you can never have enough! The players behind this joint effort are Alex Puchner, Sr. Vice President of Brewing Operations at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, which has various locations throughout the US, and Ignace De Brabandere, 3rd generation Brewmaster of the beloved Flemish Bavik Brewery. Their effort represents the first collaboration beer ever brewed by the brewers at Bavik or BJ’s. The planning began nearly a year before brewing this beer together in Belgium at the Bavik Brewery. The common goal was to create a unique blend of classic Belgian and American beer styles. Their collaboration was a natural fit: BJ’s brewers were envious of Bavik’s expertise in traditional Flemish sour beers and classic Belgian styles like Tripel. Bavik’s brewers had never brewed with American hops and were eager to do so. It didn’t take long before both brewing teams saw eye to eye on the formula for their collaboration. In honor of their amity, the breweries named the beer Camaraderie Ale, creating what may be the world’s first Flemish-American Pale Ale. Some background on the breweries and their brewers: Let’s go waaaaayyyy back in time to the 1970s, 1978 to be exact, when two guys who had a great recipe for deep dish pizza opened the first BJ’s in Santa Ana, California. The pizza was an immediate hit and, as years went by, new BJ’s restaurants were opened in beach cities along Southern California’s coastline. In 1996, with seven restaurants in operation from San Diego to Los Angeles, the first BJ’s brewery began production in Brea, California. The introduction of fine handcrafted beer was welcomed by guests, and the newly renamed BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery concept was launched. Alex Puchner, homebrewer since 1986, has been there since the start of BJ’s brewing efforts, after professional stints at southern California brewing outfits Laguna Beach Brewing Company and Huntington Beach Brewing Company, and serving as a consulting brewer for Newport Beach Brewing Co. and Westwood Brewing Co. But our history with Alex goes back further than that, to 1994, when he began a three year term as the founding brewmaster on our beer club’s selection panel. At that time, Alex was the Brewmaster of the Laguna Beach Brewing Co., and he knew more about Belgian beer than anyone we had ever met. His input was invaluable to us as we launched the club. So, we go way back, and are thrilled that he had the chance to brew beer, at the source in Belgium, with some of the best brewers of Flanders. Go Alex! Now let’s delve slightly further back to 1894, when Flemish farmer Adolphe De Brabandere requested authorization to build a brewery in a small village named Bavikhove (meaning "the farm of the people of Bavo"), originally founded around 1120 AD by a collection of farming families gathered around what is today south of Western Flanders. Like most farmers of his day, Adolphe knew how to brew beer. Four generations later, the Bavik Brewery remains a family-based operation.
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