Van Den Bossche - Lamoral Degmont Tripel
- ABV: 8.0%
People often ask me, “What is it about Belgian beer? Why are you so fond of Belgian beer?” The reason I am so fond of Belgian beer is that they are so individualistic. Each brewery has its own way of doing things, and the number of styles is almost infinite. There are recognized styles that lots of brewers make, and then there are styles that just one brewer makes, and has its own quirky way of doing it.
So then people say to me “Why are the Belgians so individualistic?” I think that one reason is the position of the country, right in the middle of the west coast of Europe. Every other European country has marched through Belgium, or occupied it at some time or another. Belgium has been ruled by the Netherlanders, and the French, and the Spanish.
During the Spanish rule, there was a Belgian Flemish patriot, a man called Lamoral, who finished up having his head chopped off by the Spanish. He was beheaded for his patriotic activities. So he is a national hero, and has a beer named after him.
That’s what happens in Belgium. If you do something good they name a beer after you. In my country, if you do something good they name a pub after you.
This beer is made by a very small, rather agricultural type of brewery that is owned by the family Van den Bossche. The brewery is in a little village called St.-Lievens-Esse, not far from Oudenaarde, in a region they call the Flemish Ardennes. They make a single and a double abbey style beer under the name Pater Lieven. When you get to their tripel, it has the special name Lamoral.
It’s darker than most triples, not a dark beer, but sort of a bronze, dark orange, almost a tamarind color. It’s got a very honey-like malt character, and a very flowery flavor, too. I’m not sure that the floweriness in this instance is coming from the hops, where you would normally expect it to come from, or possibly the malt. Honey and flowers, sort of acacia honey flowers.
The brewery does use herbs and spices quite a lot. I remember once they were showing me the mill that they use to grind the herbs and spice. It was actually a little domestic mincing machine, hand operated, and they had a small bowl that they said was filled with coriander and Curacao orange peels. I asked what sort of weight that measure would be, and they said that they did not know, they had never weighed it. They just filled the bowl, and used a bowlful.
It really is craft brewing, hands-on brewing, if you go to the brewery you’ll find Mr. and Mrs. Van den Bossche working there. And I think that you taste that in the beer, you taste the human touch. A little bit of individuality, they don’t worry too much about consistency because the beer is consistent enough.
The marketing department of a big brewery would hate that. I love it, I love to be surprised when I open a bottle, it’s always a very nice surprise.
What would I do with this? I would use it as a dessert beer, I think, with that honey-like, orangey flavor. It would be very nice as a dessert beer. Not quite as sweet as an orange muscat, but leaning a little bit in that direction.
And what would the dessert be? It’s hard to avoid chocolate when you are in Belgium, not that I want to avoid it. It would be nice with a crème brulée, or caramelized oranges, or a crème brulée with caramelized oranges. Yes, let’s do that. Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, the whole thing, the full monty.
Bring on the dessert.
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