Vliegende Paard Brouwers - Préaris Quadrupel
- ABV: 10%
- Serving Temperature: 50–57° F
- Suggested Glassware: Goblet, Tulip, or Bordeaux Glass
Vliegende Paard Brouwers’ Préaris Quadrupel sees very little distribution stateside, with only 250 12-bottle cases making it to the U.S. in 2014. We snagged just enough for our Rare Beer Club members, and it’s been edifying to see the increased demand for these folks since we’d first gotten in touch with them. (Do share a bottle of Préaris Quad with someone you like.)
As Paul Arnott, Brasserie Dubuisson’s brewmaster, said of this beer: “What a maturity for a craft beer: all hearty, rich and balanced, very mature. A beer to enjoy!” We completely agree, exclamation points and all.
The appearance on this is textbook. A rich and dense caramel color doesn’t let much of any light through, and the foam might as well be meringue. The latter’s light tan, with essentially microscopic bubbles, and even a delicate pour kicks up a generous froth. It sticks around for the duration, the lacing thickly coating the interior of its glass when tipped: basically perfect. (This conjured up other fantastically pouring beers from the past year, stuff like Brasserie de Blaugies’ La Moneuse and BOMBrewery’s Triporteur From Heaven.) Mouthwatering stuff.
The aromatics on this are really nicely integrated: complex, smooth, and rewarding of extra time spent with one’s nose in the glass. Like the Weyerbacher Tango, we strongly preferred a larger, tapered vessel for this beer, helping to concentrate those aromas and heightening that part of the experience. There’s so much in here: the cola and caramel and brown sugar, most certainly—but also rich dried fruits (like dates and raisins), peppery yeast qualities along with a firm and herbaceous hop character, and intriguing tertiary notes like subtle roasted malts, a hint of milk chocolate, vinous and warming alcohol (as it warms), and even some dried apricots.
That first sip is no less satisfying and dense—and one can kinda tell how an entry like Préaris Quadrupel would stand out even on an international stage. This hits all the right notes for its style—fine-bubbled carbonation, a silky mouthfeel, with restrained alcohol and layered notes of dried fruits and caramelized sugars and cola… But this also doesn’t feel overly familiar, or too familiar, in the way that other quads might. We found accentuating notes of burnt sugars, plum, even bitter orange peel, along with that herbal hoppiness coming through quite firmly.
Overall: that thread of bitterness cuts through the core malt complexity of this beer, opening things up quite a bit and (with that bubbly CO2) serving to refresh the palate from sip to sip.
We expect bottles of this to age quite nicely going forward, though make a point to pop one every six months or so to keep an eye on the oxidative effects. Some further caramelization, in this overall profile, should fit in just fine. For pairing options, this should stand up rather well with roasted lamb and pork. Or try it alongside desserts with caramel and darker fruits.
Back in April 2011, Vliegende Paard Brouwers (a homebrewing entity at the time) entered its beer into the Brouwland Biercompetitie—a Belgian national homebrew competition. This is one of the premier events of the sort, and judges that year included brewmasters from Orval and Brasserie Dubuisson. (You probably already have an inkling of where this origin story is headed…) Vliegende Paard Brouwers would be awarded best homebrewed beer in Belgium.
Quite a bit’s happened in the time since.
Since the brewery proper remains capped at 80-liter kettles (just over 20 gallons apiece), their beers are produced by that capable Flemish brewery De Proefbrouwerij—certainly a familiar name to many of our Rare Beer Club members, brewing for folks like Mikkeller, To Øl, and Beer Here. We really dig what Dirk and company are doing over there, and Vliegende Paard has found a very successful partnership with those folks. The brewery officially opened up in September 2011, and the beer has slowly been making its way into international distribution.
In early 2013, the annual RateBeer Best awards were announced, which tallied up the results from user-submitted beer reviews contributed to the site over the preceding year. That year’s competition incorporated over 180,000 beers and 13,000 brewers worldwide—which gives a sense of how enormous the good beer world’s become in recent years. And Vliegende Paard was honored with the rarified distinction of being named the top new brewery in Belgium.
(The same competition further recognized newcomers like Bellwoods Brewery from Canada, England’s Beavertown, Poland’s AleBrowar, and Pipework Brewing in the U.S.—all of them releasing exceptional beers and gaining a major following in the time since. Good company!)
Since then, Vliegende Paard Brouwers has received medals at the Global Craft Beer Awards in Berlin (for Préaris Quadrocinno—their winter-minded coffee beer) and the 2014 Brussels Beer Challenge (for Préaris Grand Cru), as well as recognition at a number of major festivals.
For our featured beer this month from Vliegende Paard, we went back to the very beer that got the ball rolling in the first place: Préaris Quadrupel, our favorite of the bunch, and what was named the best homebrewed beer in all of Belgium at the Brouwland Biercompetitie. It highlights, for us, the exquisite core strength of this up-and-coming brewery, and it’s just an incredibly generous example of the style. Our warm welcome to Vliegende Paard Brouwers.
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