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De Proef Brouwerij - Flemish Primitive Wild Ale 2008 Special Vintage Reserve

De Proef Brouwerij - Flemish Primitive Wild Ale 2008 Special Vintage Reserve

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club


Belgian Strong, Lightly Smoked, Wild Gruit Ale



Alcohol by Volume:


De Proef Brouwerij - Flemish Primitive Wild Ale 2008 Special Vintage Reserve

  • ABV:

  • Serving Temperature:

    50-55° F
  • Suggested Glassware:

This baby has been “cooking” in the bottle, undergoing a tertiary or quaternary fermentation (it was fermented two, possibly three times before leaving the brewery) for over two years now. If your sample has been sitting, cooling for a while after receipt, then it won’t blow up on you when you pop the cork, however, the pressure loss will permit the C02 to come out of solution and the beer will send its froth out of the bottle on its own, looking for you, ready or not… so have your glass ready after you pop it and start your pour right away. The beer appears a rather hazy golden butterscotch color with a tight-bubbled sticky head clinging to the sides of the glass as it decays from towering heights. It greets the nose with a complex blend of tart citrus, currants, honeyed malts, faint Brett funk (some barn and beef broth notes), and a multitude of spices. Despite the reduction in finishing hops and inclusion of a gruit spice mix, this beer still manages to smell quite a bit like a traditionally-hopped Belgian farmhouse ale—impressive since there are so many alternative ingredients in the gruit blend. Notes of heather, yarrow and spruce come to mind. But it’s on the palate that the gruit influence becomes apparent. Expectedly, the beer goes down on the spicier side—much of it actually due to the very active yeast strains used to ferment this beer. What’s really different though is that it doesn’t follow the normal 3-stage progression of start, middle and finish. We found that it almost instantly strikes with its opening flavor profile, and that profile holds steady until the flavor fades over a very lengthy period as more complex spices and stemmy, root-like, fruit rind bitterness grip the tongue and don’t let go. Expect some floral elements to develop as well, with the bitterness hitting mid-to-back of the tongue and not quite like the bitterness you expect from hops. As it begins to warm, look for notes of spearmint, ginger, spruce, lemon seeds (as in that deep, woody, root-like bitter bite you get from chewing on them), mugwort (bog myrtle), juniper, and perhaps some caraway. As it warms further, the botanicals will continue to grow, and a bit of faint smoked malts peak through, which when paired with the minty qualities, suggest an almost mentholated tobacco quality. At full warmth, look for notes of nearly spoiled orange juice, like a low-budget Vegas mimosa. Ah Brettanomyces, you crazy drunken buffet-loving beast. Remarkably, for a lesser-hopped beer, the bitterness is harder to shake than some of the most imperial of IPAs we’ve had… The aroma hops are very faint since the gruit is added late in the brewing process in place of aroma hops, but the bitterness is huge—if a bit late-breaking. Overall, a fascinating beer that you should horde. Pair with authentic preparations of Chicken Franchaise, Veal Piccata with pickled capers, or some fully loaded Dolmas.
Announcement: This Is A Notice Of An Ensuing “De Proef Debut!” Rare Beer—that’s what this club is all about. And this month, we have again lined up a beer not before found in the country. As a member, you’re going to be the first in the country 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. Last year, we featured the results of one such collaboration between De Proef and Bell’s Brewery. 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. 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. After commissioning the lineup of six beers, Shelton Brothers was thirsty for something more—a beer that went a few steps further toward “primitive”—and thus, a seventh beer was born. This was to be a beer in which about 5% of the malts were smoked, since malt kilning of this period would have doubtless been achieved over burning wood, imparting a smokiness to the grains. Also, hops were not widely used as the bittering agent in beer until perhaps around the mid-16th century. Instead, various spices were employed to offset the sweetness of the malt. This blend of spices, called gruit [pronounced “groot” (like ‘root’) or “grew-it”] consisted of various botanicals, from pine needles, dandelions, heather, bog myrtle (sweet gale), rosemary, yarrow, juniper berries, spruce and just about everything in between. So, to honor tradition, but without going all-gruit, this beer has about 25% of the finishing hops replaced with a gruit mixture. And after the seventh beer, De Proef rested. Or, perhaps, fell asleep at bottling time is more like it, because it turns out the brewery slapped on the label for version #6 of the Flemish Primitive series (affectionately known as “Rat Rider” due to the label artwork). Due to the smoked malt and gruit, this beer is completely different than “Rat Rider” (aka Version #6), and because of the label mix up, Shelton Brothers decided not to sell it on account that it would be confusing to consumers. So, there was beer #7, the most intriguing of the lot, all packaged and mislabeled and needing to be sorted out… What happens when you have a uniquely awesome wild-ass lightly smoked gruit beer that you can’t sell? You warehouse the stuff, let it age and get funky with the Brett bottle-conditioning in full swing while you figure something out (yeast are such good workers!). And if you’re very busy with your stated mission of hand-selecting the best beers on Earth, as Shelton Brothers so often is, then you might not even get to figuring out your mislabeled beer problem for a couple of years. That’s exactly what happened with this beer, which we’re calling Flemish Primitive Wile Ale 2008 Special Vintage Reserve. Brewed in January of 2008, it has been aging now for over two years—and we’ve snatched up all but about 30 cases of the only supply on Earth for you, our members, meaning you’ll not only get it first, you’ll be just about the only folks in the world to have access to this truly special, unusual beer. And, the 30 cases left for the rest of the world—well that too will dwindle if you order some extra bottles. Don’t worry about dipping into the tiny remaining stash—Gruit to it!
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