De Proef Brouwerij - Flemish Primitive Wild Ale #3 (Surly Bird)
- ABV: 9.0%
- Serving Temperature: 50-55° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Pewter Mug or Ideally, a Leather Drinking Vessel
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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