In the late 1800s the newly created Pilsner style spread across Europe with great fervor. Affordability, the novelty of a new type of beer, and the newly industrialized process of producing cheap glassware—which enabled everyday citizens to actually SEE what they drank—were all major factors in the success of the style. Bavik Premium Pilsner is a German-style Pilsner with a distinctly Belgian influence, evident in the nose, which presents a sweeter, slightly spicy note. Its unique character earned it a "Belgium's Best Pilsner" nod by that country's beer equivalent of Consumer Reports, beating out over 60 other Belgian Pilsners. Expect aromas of fresh barley, accentuated by a light mustiness, and some spicy, citrusy hops and fruity esters presenting whiffs of apricot, overripe apple and a touch of grape skin. Look for an herbal, almost zesty bitterness to offset but never overpower the sweeter notes. One of the most versatile beers for meal pairing—try this with just about anything. Experiment! But be sure to save some to do a side-by-side comparison of this pilsner with the Czech pilsner featured this month.
In 1894, 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.
Their first principal brewer (as a company) was Adolphe's son, Joseph De Brabandere. In 1894 the number of smaller ale-focused breweries in Belgium was already in decline as a result of the hugely popular Pilsner style of beer. A true entrepreneur and wise businessman, Joseph capitalized on this new trend in beer drinking and became the most important Pilsner brewer in his region.
The family business enjoyed its successful standing in the region until 1914, when the German army invaded the region and confiscated the brewery, forcing its closure during World War I. Incredibly, after the war's devastation, Joseph was able to restart the brewery. But the outbreak of the Second World War jeopardized the brewery's fate once again. Joseph's wife Gabrielle was actually able to convince the Germans to keep the brewery open during World War II. Eventually, the brewery passed to Joseph and Gabrielle's children, who developed the brewery further through modernization and market expansion. Today the Bavik Brewery is the largest brewery of West Flanders, brewing over 80,000 barrels of beer per year.
For more information about the Bavik Brewery, check out their web site at http://www.bavik.be.
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