As many of our long-term RBC members know, we are fortunate to be the official release partner for the annual De Proef collaboration beers, with our lucky members being among the first to get their hands on the brews. In fact, this year RBC members are receiving their bottles approximately one month prior to anyone else, with the exception of those lucky enough to get a taste at Philly Beer Week (an event which, as you’ll read below, played a central role in this year’s collaboration) in early June. We’re proud to bring you the fifth installment of this program which debuted in 2007 with Signature Ale with Port Brewing, followed by Les Deux Brasseurs (Allagash), Van Twee (Bell’s) and last year’s Monstre Rouge with Terrapin.
The 2011 De Proef collaboration is a slightly different concept than the previous projects. The organizers of Philly Beer Week approached De Proef importer SBS Imports with the idea of making this year’s collaboration co-branded with PBW rather than an individual brewer. PBW then held a unique promotion whereby consumers could purchase a raffle ticket to win a trip to Belgium to be at De Proef on collaboration brew day (now that’s our kind of raffle!). On their raffle ticket they could select a brewer from among eligible Philadelphia area breweries that they wanted to be the partner brewery. The lucky winner was Jason Kramer, who purchased 20 raffle tickets. Fortunately for all of us, Jason selected the talented Brian O’Reilly of Sly Fox Brewing Company as his preferred brewer.
Jason, Brian, & Alan Shapiro of SBS met De Proef brewer-owner Dirk Naudts on January 31 for the brew...
About the Brewers:
De Proef Brouwerij founder and brewmaster, Dirk Naudts, proudly wears the nickname “the prof” (as in professor). Famous as a brewing innovator and educator, Naudts built his small but highly-scientific brewery just outside Gent in the brewing haven of Western Flanders, Belgium. There he crafts his beers with a mix of high-tech modern equipment and traditional brewing methods – an approach that works wonders not only for his own recipes, but also for those of the many small breweries throughout Belgium who partner with him under different labels.
Brian O’Reilly, who joined Sly Fox in 2002, was bit by the beer bug during an overseas study program in Austria during his college years. After graduation, he began working at an area microbrewery, then moved on to an assistant brewer position at New Hampshire’s Brewers Bier Haus where he honed his craft under brewmaster Phil Markowski (whose excellent Cuvée des Fleurs we featured last month!). O’Reilly took over when Markowski left to become brewmaster at Southampton Publick House. After a few other stops, O’Reilly came to Sly Fox where his innovative versions of Belgian and German beer styles, among others, have won the brewery high praise and national recognition.