De Proef Brouwerij - Flemish Primitive Wild Ale #3 (Surly Bird)

De Proef Brouwerij - Flemish Primitive Wild Ale #3 (Surly Bird)

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club

Style:

Belgian Strong Wild Pale Ale

Country:

Belgium

Alcohol by Volume:

9.0%

De Proef Brouwerij - Flemish Primitive Wild Ale #3 (Surly Bird)

  • Alcohol by Volume: 9.0%
  • Bottle Size: No
  • Serving Temperature: 50-55° F
  • Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Pewter Mug or Ideally, a Leather Drinking Vessel
First brewed in 2005, we’ve managed to secure a new batch of this wild ale brewed in early July of this year. This baby is still pretty active in the bottle, so be sure to open and pour it slowly. The beer’s appearance offers a slightly hazy, vibrant light blonde hue and a tiny, small-bubble sticky head clinging to the sides of the glass as it settles. It greets the nose with a complex blend of light floral hops, honeyed malts, and hints of Brett funk (some barn and beef broth notes) which will become more prominent over time if you have the patience to lay a bottle or two down. Complex fruity notes are evident, largely due to the active yeast strains used to ferment this beer. You might pick up on some leathery notes in the nose as well. Surly Bird starts with a strong, fruity sweetness which dissipates fairly quickly, cut immediately by the carbonation. A pleasant bitterness emerges and lingers on through the finish. All in all, we found it pretty intense for the style. You’ll note some light Brettanomyces stuff going on, more leathery than funky or barnyard at this point in the beer’s life. The 9% ABV is somewhat masked, but at the end of the day, it’s there bringing a bit of heat and sweetness to the table. Overall, it all works together well, offering a fairly balanced, complex beer from The Prof. We love this series. Consider pairing it with authentic preparations of Veal Piccata with pickled capers or Chicken Française.
Rare Beer—that’s what this club is all about. And this month, we have again lined up a beer that our members will be hard pressed to find on their own as only 25 cases have been distributed in the U.S. thus far in 2012. As a member, you’re going to be one of the few lucky souls to taste a very unusual brew created in Belgium by world renowned Belgian Brewmaster Dirk Naudts. Brewer extraordinaire and well-regarded brewing innovator and educator, Naudts is the proprietor of De Proef Brouwerij, located 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, über-scientific brewery. Never shy about experimentation or collaboration, he is a scientist by nature, and an artisan by trade. Brewers from around the world have contacted The Prof in the interest of collaboration and recipe development. In fact, we recently featured the results of one such collaboration between De Proef and Hair of the Dog Brewery, Flanders Fred, which was the most highly reordered beer we’ve run this year.

Among Dirk Naudts’s other notable collaborators are Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey, Jason Perkins of Allagash Brewing, Spike Buckowski of Terrapin Beer Company and numerous others. People are clamoring to work with The Prof. But it’s not just brewers—better beer distributors, Shelton Brothers, launched a project with De Proef back in 2004. Like the commissioned work of a painter in which multiple panels are produced, the beer that was the subject of this artful experiment came in six different versions (plus a special Vintage Reserve in 2008). Known as “Flemish Primitive Wild Ale,” the beer is built upon a base of rich golden continental malts, fermented with several strains of Brettanomyces (wild yeast) and hopped with a generous amount of local hops. The difference between the six versions comes down to different hop varietals and hopping rates as well as the “Flemish Primitive” artwork of master painter Hieronymus Bosch that adorns each bottle. This artwork, which is highly accomplished and anything but primitive, was produced in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and showcases, albeit in often haunting, nightmarish imagery, the mastery of the brush that helped push the late medieval period into the Renaissance.

“Flemish Primitive” refers to both the well known wild yeast that lends its unique flavor accent to this extraordinary ale and to the school of “primitive” painters in medieval Flanders whose startling work kick-started the Renaissance. For centuries, wild Brettanomyces yeast floating on the open air in Flanders has fermented the local brew, producing a fruity and complex farmhouse character that aficionados recognize as distinctly Belgian. Here, several strains of Brettanomyces have been matched with rich, golden malt and a generous helping of local hops to yield a hearty, earthy, yet very refreshing brew. This month, you’ll have the opportunity to sample the third beer in the series, Surly Bird.
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