De Proef Brouwerij & Bell’s Brewery - Van Twee

De Proef Brouwerij & Bell’s Brewery - Van Twee

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club

Style:

Belgian Strong Dark Ale brewed with Michigan Dark Cherry Juice

Country:

Belgium

Alcohol by Volume:

7.50%

De Proef Brouwerij & Bell’s Brewery - Van Twee

  • Alcohol by Volume: 7.50%
  • Bottle Size: No
  • Serving Temperature: 50-60° F
  • Suggested Glassware: Tulip or Snifter
This unique collaboration beer pours a very deep, hazy, burgundy brown color and is topped by a massive, intensely sticky, tan colored head that laces nicely and remains indefinitely. Smells of spicy Belgian yeast greet the nose, falling in line with expectations for a Belgian strong dark ale. But then it takes on a unique twist, with prominent notes of chocolate and some coffee, fudge, and a ‘stemmy’ woodiness. When swirled, look for faint impressions of cherry juice to arise, and note how the cherry notes play second fiddle to the chocolate notes that are quite prominent. Expect notes of dark bread, bubblegum and spicy, herbal notes as it warms, reminiscent of beers brewed in the Belgian Dubbel style. On the palate, notes of cherries hit upfront and are quickly blended with ample notes of chocolate, lightly roasted malts, and under ripened nectarines, giving a tart character that is also blended with some very sweet plum-like fruit notes. We found the finish very complex, evoking a variety of flavors found in a multitude of familiar styles; look for a unique interplay of fruity sweetness meets porter-like dryness meets sour/tart fruit & funky Brettanomyces (wild yeast often used in Lambic styles). While a vinous character is detected, it is nearly erased by the un-wine-like rush of chocolate. Overall, this is a very interesting beer with an unusual but delightful flavor profile. The chocolate aromas and flavors are particularly noteworthy, as is the sour, funky fruit character. But interestingly, these very strong flavor elements are blended in such harmonious fashion that they balance one another. The sharp, sour, tart cherry notes are kept from inducing a puckering of the mouth by the rich, roasty, creamy chocolate notes. Stylistically, it’s a hard beer to place, but oftentimes, styles are the first casualty of brewing innovation. It seems to be a combination of wood-aged Belgian strong dark ale, porter, and dubbel. Very unusual and very exciting to the palate, this beer is a bold experiment that delivers a robust novelty that only collaboration can bring. We suggest pairing with Belgian truffles, with moderate to high cocoa levels (medium-to-dark chocolate). Cellaring (storage at cellar temperatures) is recommended as this beer will continue to develop and mature in the bottle. If you can muster the willpower, set a bottle aside and check in on it at least six months down the road.
Part of what we love about being in the beer business is being able to debut boutique brews to our members. This month, we again lined up a beer not before found in the country. As a member of the club, you’re among the first in the nation to taste the long-awaited collaboration beer brewed in Belgium by a Belgian Brewmaster with the help of a classic, innovative US microbrewery. Dirk Naudts, brewer extraordinaire and well-regarded brewing innovator is the proprietor of De Proef Brouwerij in the brewing haven of Western Flanders, Belgium. His nickname, “the prof” (as in professor), is well-deserved and worn as a badge of honor, serving as the moniker for his highly respected, ultra-scientific brewery. The international craft brewing culture is rather unique in that there are so many brewers vying for a very small piece of the overall pie. Consider that in the US alone, there are more than 1,400 craft breweries slicing up only about 5% of the total beer market. With so many people trying to get their very narrow slice of the beer business out there, you’d think competition would be fierce, and collaboration uncommon. But remarkably, it’s just the opposite. Craft brewers participate in a unique spirit of cooperation domestically, but that brewing olive branch extends internationally as well. During the past three years, De Proef has played host to a series of US guest brewers from internationally renowned microbreweries—folks like Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing and Lost Abbey in Southern California, representing the west coast of the US, and Jason Perkins from Allagash Brewing Company in Maine, bringing an east coast vibe to Belgium. It was logical that the next US guest brewer be from the emerging “third coast,” the Midwest. Enter John Mallett from Bell’s Brewery in Michigan. This time around, the collaboration focused on use of ingredients from the US and Belgium, with juice from Michigan’s famed dark cherries becoming a featured ingredient, along with dark Belgian candi sugar. For bottle conditioning (the process where yeast are left in the bottle to feed on sugars in the beer to naturally produce carbonation and some alcohol), sugar from native Michigan sugar beets was added. The result is an extraordinary beer called Van Twee, meaning “from two,” that could only have come from the careful collaboration of these two innovative brewing forces. Enjoy the fruits of their international labor; this unique one-off brew will never be produced again, and you’re the first in the nation to sample it. Indeed it is true that membership does have its privileges! Check out www.bellsbeer.com for more information about Bell’s Brewery, which has been creating insanely good beers since 1983. Little information is offered at De Proef’s website, but perhaps that will change one of these days—to see if that’s happened, check out www.proefbrouwerij.com.
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