“Purity and Innocence of Spirit Shall Reveal the Glory of the Grail.”
Or, you could just drink any of the beers brewed by our second featured Collectors Beer brewery and get a feel for that glory. Brouwerij De Graal, or “The Grail Brewery” in Dutch, has, like our first featured brewery, obvious religious symbolism behind the name. This is not uncommon for Belgian beers, among whose ranks live many a monastically-brewed Abbey beer. Let’s face it, monks can brew some damned fine beer—and many strive to deliver beer of like quality.
Brouwerij De Graal is a small artisanal brewery located in the Flemish Ardennes (the informal name given to the hilly region in the south of the province of East Flanders). Brewer and owner Wim Saeyens was a homebrewer for years before opening the brewery in 2002. Wim holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and attended the brewing school at the University of Ghent. All credentials aside, the man can brew with the best of them.
A curious peculiarity is that De Graal produces a 40% alcohol beverage, a sort of beer-schnapps, called Bierbrand that is made by the distillation of De Graal beers. The aromatic liquor is distilled twice in order to retain only the alcohol and hop aromas from the original beers, and is then matured in oak Bourbon barrels. Now this is taking beer to its furthest extremes!
And since their opening in 2002, one of De Graal’s specialties has been the production of beers on premises, an arrangement that permits customers to brew their own beer on site, according to their own wishes. This is a great way for customers to create a personalized beer, and is a great outlet for pubs and restaurants that want to sell their own beer but don’t want to bear the capital expense of setting up their own brewery. Another common use is for birthday, anniversary, or wedding celebrations, yielding individualistic beers that make these events truly memorable. Having tasted a handful of the commercial De Graal beers, we’re jealous that people can just waltz on into the place and brew a beer on their system, with the guidance of their masterbrewer. Ah, Belgian beer culture . . . there’s nothing quite like it on Earth. (Though there are a handful of similar “brew on premises” outfits operating in the USA. Check your local listings; you might just have one in your area. In the meantime, we’ll keep sending you some of the world’s best brews.)
For more information about the brewery, check out their website at www.degraal.be.