Klein Duimpje Huisbrouwerij - Kerstbier (2008 Vintage)
Serving Temperature:45-50° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Snifter or Oversized Wine Glass
As it warms, some alcohol notes develop, as well as orange peel and a suggestion of ginger. The nose implies that this will be a sweet malt bomb, but thanks to an active yeast strain, some brewer’s magic, and two years of bottle conditioning, the maltiness is not nearly as prominent as expected. Instead, a firm malt backbone supports a rich tapestry of fruity esters and expansive earthiness. Like the nose, everything is wrapped up in a spiced undercurrent—right on the money for a Belgian-style Strong Dark Ale—but quite unique in its Madeira-like character, yet distinctly beery, with tons of carbonation providing a creamy richness on the palate. Finishes with plenty of earthiness and a lingering but mild bitterness from the hops, supplemented by a very mellow splash of yeasty tartness—and with a little warmth in it, some spicy woodiness emerges in the finish.
This beer has already been aging for about two years, so it’s pretty much primed and ready to be consumed now. Cellar it if you like, but only if you have enough bottles to have at least one today to experience what’s happening right now—we think it’s peaking. Try pairing with bread pudding or holiday-spiced stuffing.
Klein Duimpje Huisbrouwerij translates to the Tom Thumb Homebrewery. Tom Thumb, for those unfamiliar with the story, was a character said to have been born to a couple in the times of King Arthur. The pair longed for a son, even one no larger than the size of a thumb. Being a sort of genie-in-the-bottle-style trickster, Merlin granted them their wish, casting a spell that would give them their tiny son, Tom.
Clearly, the brewer is making a statement that this is one tiny brewing outfit. That brewer is Erik Bouman, who started his fermentation foray as an amateur winemaker around 1990. Not too long into his amateur winemaking career, he traded grapes for grains, becoming a beer homebrewer in 1994. In early 1997, with just a few years of homebrewing under his belt, he entered a beer to be judged in the “winter beer” style of the 1st Dutch Championship for Amateur Beer Brewers, and won with an early rendition of his homebrewed barleywine, “Erik De Noorman.” Shortly after that, he submitted his Porter to be judged at the General Dutch Championship, where beers of all styles compete for best in show. His porter beat out more than 400 other beers to be selected as the Best Beer of the competition. ’97 was a good year for Erik, and no doubt played a big part in his drive to make beer brewing his living.
These days, Erik is selling his homebrewed beer on a larger scale, but this ‘larger scale’ is relative to brewing five gallons at a time in his kitchen. He still brews a lower volume of beer than what most people lose down the drain in a few months of showering. His beers are truly a handcrafted product—the way all beers used to be made. We’re always looking forward to trying more of his beers—each year we check in and try to get our hands on some. Usually, there just isn’t enough to go around for us to get most of his offerings to our beer panel for review, let alone to procure enough for our members. But a while back we took delivery of a 2008 Vintage of their annual Christmas beer, Kerstbier (Kerst means Christmas in Dutch). We’ve been letting it age, checking in on it here and there. A recent sampling really wowed our beer panel; it’s aged quite nicely—making for an extra rare treat for you this holiday season. Enjoy!
Check out www.kleinduimpje.nl for more information (at the time we visited, it was in Dutch only, and was pretty light on info… Apparently, when you’re the only person brewing your beer and you’re trying to keep up with demand, there’s not much time for website maintenance. Hey, we’ll take beer over bandwidth any day).
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