Brouwerij Kerkom - Bink Grand Cru

Brouwerij Kerkom - Bink Grand Cru

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club

Style:

Belgian Extra Strong Dark Ale

Country:

Belgium

Alcohol by Volume:

13.00%

Brouwerij Kerkom - Bink Grand Cru

  • Alcohol by Volume: 13.00%
  • Bottle Size: No
  • Serving Temperature: 43-50° F
  • Suggested Glassware: Snifter
Emphasis on the “Grand”—this is the strongest beer we’ve ever featured in the club, weighing in at a pretty monstrous 13% ABV. We’ve been hunting for some pretty high ABV beers to push the envelope a bit, but they’ve got to be refined, not just powerful. We were thrilled when we tasted the Bink Grand Cru, as it is just the type of beer we’ve been searching for. Pours the deepest possible shade of mahogany, dressed with a toasted marshmallow colored head that fades relatively quickly, but that’s to be expected in a beer of this alcoholic caliber. There’s quite a bit going on in the nose, though you have to get past the aroma of alcohol to pull it all out. Letting it breathe for about five minutes will allow it to air out a bit. Look for notes of sweet maple syrup, maraschino cherries, tawny port, dough, yeast, oats and an herbal note, similar to juniper, which, coupled with the alcohol, provides a gin-like quality. Pretty intense stuff here. This beer has a little brother called Winterkoninkske, which is spiced with juniper, but this beer is not—everything you smell and taste comes from just malt, hops, and a pretty muscular strain of yeast. On the palate, look for some of the port-like qualities to be fully realized, with quite a bit of grape character coming through. Expect notes of orange marmalade, currants, figs, plum wine, overripe cantaloupe and suggestions of bitter dark chocolate. Also notice an undercurrent of herbal characteristics, ranging from leafy bitterness to savory sage. The beer has been hopped exclusively with Belgian hops, and quite heftily so, as there is a firm bitterness even against the massive sweetness and alcoholic thunderclap. Finishes with the warmth and suppleness of aged port wine, grape stem-like woodiness, orange peel bitterness and afterbreaths of alcohol. Overall, this is a very port-like beer that should be served as an after dinner drink, on its own or with a few bites of dark chocolate, as brewer Marc Limet prefers it. It will age for some time to come—and is very difficult to come by, so consider ordering up some additional bottles, because this is one that will stand the test of time. We recommend checking in on a bottle every 12 months or so, for at least the next four years. And do share the stuff—it packs quite a wallop—bear in mind, until less than 20 years ago, 13% was about as strong as a beer could possibly be.

Note: If you’re wondering what the word “Bink” means, you’re not alone—we had the same thought. Essentially it’s a colloquial term of endearment for the inhabitants of Sint-Truiden (akin to the word “dude”, but specific to the people of this area). Many of the beers from the Kerkom Brewery have the term in the name. These Bink beers have clearly been designed to embody local spirit, and these Binks have become a member of the local citizenry themselves.

In the countryside of East Flanders, Belgium, on a small family farm amidst Belgium’s best pear and cherry orchards, stirs the unrest of a man who has committed himself to a brave and noble mission to enact change in his country. Perturbed by the decreasing interest in traditional, hoppy Belgium beers, Marc Limet decided to take action and do something about it. Like a number of other small farmhouse brewers in Belgium, Marc felt compelled to move from amateur brewing to a more commercial operation to counter the disturbing trend of dumbing down in Belgian brewing. Unlike larger Belgian breweries, Marc can commit the time required to create true-brew works of art without the use of corn sugar, artificial fruit flavors, or other cheap ingredients. In so doing, he keeps alive the great brewing spirit and traditions of this beer-loving nation.

Marc Limet’s brewery, known as Brouwerij Kerkom, is essentially an extension of the home he has made with his wife Marina. Their on-site pub feels like a welcoming nook of their house; a place where folks from all over the country will gather throughout the year to enjoy these acclaimed farmhouse beers. The Kerkom tradition is not new, however. Brewing has been going on under this name since 1878, when the original Kerkom Brewery was founded after Evarist Clerinx left his studies of medicine to become a brewer (let’s call it a shift from one medicine to another). He purchased an old café known as “La Renaissance” and rebuilt it as a brewery. In 1932, 12 years after the brewery reopened (German occupiers claimed the brewery during the First World War), Evarist’s son Paul took up the craft.

Having later survived the Second World War, brewing continued as a family affair when Jean Clerinx joined the brewery, but times were tough. During WWI there were 127 breweries in the region. By 1965, there were only 13 left. Tastes had changed, and local breweries had closed in droves. Today, only 6 of the original 127 pre-WWI-era breweries are still active—the Kerkom Brewery is one of them.

In 1968, Jean Clerinx also decided to cease brewing operations at Kerkom. After his retirement in 1988, he started up a small brewery that created beers using old-world, traditional methods. In 1999, Marc Limet, masterbrewer and hop-hero took up as Kerkom’s owner and brewer. He has since put 100% of his efforts into bringing the character and flare back to Belgium’s locally-brewed beers by creating new beers with old-world composition.

For more information about the brewery, check out their website at www.brouwerijkerkom.be. You’ll also find information there about bicycling routes through this beautiful region—where you can ride roads that cut between orchards and fruit plantations in the famed region of Haspengouw. Just follow the “appelroute” to get to the brewery. What a great way to recharge after a bike ride through the Flemish countryside! Pick a lighter beer than what we’re featuring this month—this one’s no biking brew.

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