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  • la_rana_dorada Belgica Soccer at La Rana Dorada

     

    Ciudad de Panama, Panama

    The World-Cup is in full swing. This huge global party is happening and there is no better place to enjoy than in Latin America. The layers of drama, from the screaming commentators on TV that make you deaf to the Uber drivers that decorate their cars till they no longer can see, to the mamas wearing the national jerseys with pride, nowhere in the world is soccer appreciated and celebrated more as here in the Latin world. I am happy to be here, always. Today, Monday June 18th , Panama is playing the Red Devils, the national team from Belgium. Important it’s Panama debut on the world stage, the first time that the national team made it to the World-Cup. Congratulations, Panama is ready!

    No better place to be honest to watch one of 28 games is one of the La Rana Dorado brewpubs. The Rana brewpubs remind me of the nineties in the US, real brewpubs where the beer is good and plenty, the pizza is the way a pizza should taste and the difference is made by the company you are with. The beers that Berny, Jacky, Brad and David have created are technically sound and drink like a train. Don’t forget, we are in Panama where people drink cheap lagers a la Balboa, Atlas and Panama. The PILS (4.5 % ABV, 18 IBU) from La Rana is proof that you can also brew a tasty drinkable solid Lager. Of course, Berny and Brad are not at their first Rodeo, these guys started Bogota Beer Company in Colombia way back.

    They also thought about my Belgian roots and have a BLANCHE (4.5% ABV, 18 IBU) and a GRAND CRU (7 % ABV, 21 IBU). Lauren, our Kathinka Lab Manager and my son Matt prefer the Grand Cru. Eimi, the La Rana waitress when I visited the pub in Clayton is a Blanche fan and I love the Pils, a beer you cannot really stop drinking. They also have an IPA (6.5% ABV, 80 IBU) popular with the younger crowd. To me it feels it needs a gentler hopping, there is plenty of bitterness but a bit I missed some floral aroma. I did enjoy it with the Chicken Tacos pizza, the cilantro and fresh avocado paired awesome with the IPA, it was hard not to have another one.

    When you are in Panama, catch up on some soccer at one of the pubs. How did Panama do? They played well. First half was fun to watch, great discipline and stamina. Second half they did well too but Hazard, Mertens and Lukaku thought different, they wanted to win and by the 75th minute it was 3-0 for Belgium. Panama, be proud, great debut at the “Mundial”.

    Proost!

    Floris

    proost: [noun] “cheers!” in Flemish; usually said when drinking with friends and family.

  • Cerveceria Central, Rio Bajo, Ciudad de Panama

     

    Rio Bajo, Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá. 14 de diciembre de 2017

    Sabes que estás hablando con un excelente equipo cuando te encuentras con uno o cuando conoces a un panameño que ha dado la vuelta al mundo y a un venezolano que da la sensación de que estás hablando con un maestro cervecero alemán. Esta es la realidad en Cervecería Central, ubicada en el área de Río Bajo de la ciudad de Panamá, donde me reuní con Carlos, la mente creativa ejerciendo su segundo oficio y Joaquin, el técnico, quien ya tenía una carrera completa como director técnico de Cervecería Polar en Venezuela.

    El calentamiento global también está haciendo efecto en el clima de Panamá, estaba lloviendo a mediados de Diciembre cuando iba camino a Río Abajo, área donde los trabajadores ingleses del canal de Panamá se establecieron después de que se terminara la construccion. Ahora es una zona semi industrial y pintoresca, con muchas pequeñas empresas y tiendas, y el hogar, en un pequeño parque industrial, de la Cervecería Central.

    Una vez que entras estas en un lugar completamente diferente, con una buena operación de elaboración de cerveza, donde se puede sentir la influencia alemana. Carlos me da una vuelta por las instalaciones. Es la primera vez que veo un ABE (Lincoln, NE) – cervecería y fermentadores – un equipo de buen aspecto con buena mano de obra. Nos sentamos en la oficina para probar sus cervezas. Ya conocía su VENARENA, un ingenio belga que me acompañaba todas las tardes cuando hacia mi tarea de español en algún lugar al aire libre en Casco Viejo, la parte antigua de la ciudad de Panamá.

    Empezamos con RIVER DOWN ALE (una clara referencia del área de Rio Bajo donde estan ubicado), una cerveza rubia, con seguridad, un nombre diferente y una etiqueta genial. La cerveza es brillante, un color dorado, algo que se adapta tanto al clima como a la cultura del país. Me gustó mucho, muy asertiva, adecuada para el mercado que todavía está muy dominado por cervezas como Balboa y Panamá. River Down es diferente y lo más importante, vale su dinero. Seguimos con LAGER TIJA, una lager con una lagartija, un proyecto de Joaquín. Esta lager ligeramente seca me recuerda a una Pils del norte de Alemania. Joaquín me dijo que su padre era de Kiel en el norte de Alemania, esta cerveza es claramente un homenaje a él.

    Pasamos a sus cervezas hoppy, la primera en la fila GUACHIMAN ( el “vigilante” esos tipos que ves en todo Panamá con las escopetas de la guerra mundial en las manos), Hoppy Ale y la segunda INDIA DORMIDA, una IPA. Para mí, Guachiman es la más interesante de las dos. Yo lo llamaría una sesión IPA con un toque de mosaico típico. India dormida, una verdadera IPA, donde tanto el lúpulo como la malta luchan por atención. Yo le daría a cada cerveza un poco más de carácter propio, esto hace que sean más interesantes y logren ampliar su propuesta. Sé que estos chicos seguirán trabajando en ello. Hay que darles crédito, al igual que a todos los cerveceros de Panamá. No es fácil preparar cervezas avanzadas cuando la calidad de los lúpulos aquí es un tanto soso, a menudo no son tan buenos.

    Hablaremos más sobre la cerveza y el mundo de la cerveza en Panamá. Escucharemos más de estos dos chicos, confío en que continuarán haciendo un buen trabajo. Panamá necesita más cerveza buena que valga la pena beber.

    Saludos.

    Floris

     

    proost: [sustantivo] “¡salud!” en flamenco; generalmente se dice cuando se bebe con amigos y familiares.

  • Cerveceria Central, Rio Bajo, Panama City

     

    Rio Bajo, Ciudad de Panama, Panama. Dec. 14, 2017

    You know you are talking to a winning team when you meet a Panamanian who has lived all over the world and a Venezuelan who makes you feel like you’re talking to a German brew master. This is the case at Cerveceria Central, located at the Rio Bajo area of Panama City where I am meeting with Carlos, the creative mind, and Joaquin the technical guy. You could say Joaquin is on his second tour of duty, as he has already had a full brewing career as Technical Director of Cerveceria Polar in Venezuela.

    I stopped by on one of my transfers at Tocumen, the Panama City International airport. Global warming has had an effect on the weather in Panama because it was still raining in mid December when I made my trip to the swollen Rio Bajo and the area around where the English workers of the Panama canal settled after the job on the canal was done. Today, it a lively, busy semi-industrial area with a lot of small business and shops and the home – in a small industrial park – of Cerveceria Central.

    Once inside, you are a different place, a nice clean brewing operation where you can feel the German influence. Carlos gives me a quick tour. This is the first time I’ve seen an ABE (Lincoln, NE) brew house and fermenters – good-looking equipment with nice workmanship. We sit down in the office to try their beers. I am familiar with their VENARENA, a Belgian wit that I have had many times, usually late afternoon, doing my tarea Español, somewhere outside when I am staying in Casco, the old part of Panama City.

    We start with RIVER DOWN ALE (a clear reference to the Rio Bajo area where they are located), a blonde ale, with a unique name and a cool label. The beer is sparkly clear, a sharp golden color, something that fits both climate and culture here. I liked it, very drinkable but assertive and clearly right for the local market that is still very dominated by beers such as Balboa and Panama. River Down is different and more importantly worthy both of your money and time. Second one we try is LAGER TIJA, a lager with the lizard, Joaquin’s project. A lightly dry hopped lager reminiscent of an edge North German Pils. Joaquin had told me that his father was from Kiel in North Germany, this beer is clearly homage to him.

    We move on to their hoppy beers, first in line is GUACHIMAN (the ” watchman” – those guys you see all over Panama with the shotguns from World War One slung over their shoulders), a hoppy ale and INDIA DORMIDA, an IPA. To me, Guachiman is the more interesting of the two. I would call it really a session IPA with a typical mosaic touch. India Dormida, a true IPA is a bit too malty for my taste where both hops and malt are battling for your attention. My two cents would be to give each beer a bit more character of it’s own, makes both beers more interesting and it broadens your portfolio. These guys will be on it, no doubt. You have to give them credit, just like all craft brewers here, to brew hop forward beers in this part of the world. It is not easy to brew hop forward beers when the quality of the hops here is so-so. By the time they receive the hops here, one has to wonder what has all happened with them, as they often are not so good anymore.

    We chat more about beer and the world of beer in Panama. We will hear more from these two guys in Rio Bajo, I trust they will keep up the good work. Panama needs more good beer worth drinking.

    Saludos,
    Floris

    proost: [noun] “cheers!” in Flemish; usually said when drinking with friends and family.

  • Russian River new brewhouse equipment New Russian River Brewhouse Sets Sail

    proost blog 11.07.17

     

    Left Bank Scheldt River, Antwerp, Belgium. October 30-31, 2017

    Big day in the Port of Antwerp, Belgium, especially busy last week because the entire new brew house (75 bbl CW) for the Russian River Brewing Company was being transferred from the river barges to the ocean liner at the MCS terminal on the left bank of the river Scheldt in Antwerp. The next phase will be to sail the Atlantic, travel through the Panama Canal and back up the Pacific to the Port of Oakland at San Fransisco Bay.

    In the last six weeks – from the beginning of September to mid October – with all the vessels (mash tun, lauter tun, kettle and whirlpool) ready, the next phase of all pre-piping and pre-wiring was in full swing at the Ziemann plant. It is the goal to have as little welding work as possible done on site in the brew house area. This does mean that a lot of packaging preparations need to be made to make sure that none of the vessels get damaged by salt water or other equipment loaded on the ships. All is supervised by a logistics firm specialized in this type of cargo.

    All the equipment was loaded on a barge at the Ziemann facility in Burgstadt at the River Main. The barge sailed down the River Main, connected on over the Rhine and then took the inter-coastal waterway down to the Port of Antwerp, a trip of a total of 2 days. The ocean liner will take another 4-5 weeks to make it to the West Coast of the US. The pictures show the different vessels within the wooden areas, the entire process piping mounted and ready under the vessels in between the vessel legs.

    The same operation will happen two more times. First, all the Ziemann fermenters will make the trip by the end of the year, barge to Antwerp, ship to Oakland. All the open top fermenters will be inspected at the end of January 2018 and then make the trip by truck to Bremerhaven and then ocean liner to Oakland as well with an estimated arrival time of mid April in California. We keep you posted!

    Floris

    proost: [noun] “cheers!” in Flemish; usually said when drinking with friends and family.

  • On the Road with Russian River in Germany

     

    Michaelismesse, Miltenberg, Germany, September 3, 2017

    We have traveled a long way and are a bit jet-legged. Although we are tired we cannot go to sleep. Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo, owners of Russian River Brewing Company and I are here for the factory acceptance test (FAT) for the new brew house (75 bbl/90 hl Cold Wort) they are building in Windsor, CA. This is an exciting trip that has been a long time coming!

    To try to get us sleepy, Michael Kurzweil, the GM of Ziemann Burgstadt, is taking us to the Michaelismesse in Miltenberg. A 650 year old tradition here, an event not all that different from a county fair in Colorado, except that people are dressed different – traditional Bavarian dress and there is beer everywhere and for everybody. The event is a big market with a huge beer tent. I guess sales people have been getting thirsty for 650 years, hence the purpose of the beer tent. Now, of course, the beer tent is the main attraction with the band and the market is still there, although smaller then before. Only beer brewed in Miltenberg can be served at the fair so since two years only Faust is served. Our friend Cornelius Faust, third generation brew master, and his cousin Johannes Faust, serve us proudly their beer in the one liter glasses. A wonderful classic, but drier and less malty then what I am used to, Festbier (Octoberfest beer) is what they brewed for this year’s festival. They serve 1,000 hl of this beer in the 10-day festival, so needless to say, the beer was more then drinkable. Prost!

    Ziemann Production Facility, Burgstadt, Germany, September 4, 2017

    I slept well. Vinnie did not. Too much excitement for today! It’s not everyday that you see your new, dream brewhouse for the first time. We go to the Ziemann factory and at Hall 6 all the new brewing vessels for the new Russian River brewery are standing proudly, shining in the middle of hundreds of boxes and crates full of parts. The next step is the pre-piping of all the vessels to create a functioning brew house.

    Lots of excitement for a brand new brew house!

    We start with the mash tun for a detailed review of all the piping orientations and workmanship. Really wonderful to see how well these vessels have been made and although we have not made any beer in them the feeling is good. Special are the “star” designs at the bottom of both Whirlpool and Lauter, eliminating the mild steel support structure you see under conventional brew houses. We delve into more details and at the Lauter we decide to also go into the vessels, Vinnie & Natalie lead the charge. A partly assembled racking device is already in place. The false bottom with slotted plates is fully mounted and ready to do it’s job. A detail that turns out really nice is the decision to polish the entire vessel wall (above and below) the main brewing floor.

    We all feel good – real good – and after review of the 3D model and countless details we go back to the Adler Hotel. Time for dinner and a beer from our friends at Faust! Tonight, we drink the Weizen and Bayerische Hell, great beers, also brewed on a new Ziemann brewhouse.

    Thanks Cornelius & Johannes for the great beer! Thanks Michael and Ziemann team for the great looking brewing vessels! Lets get them safe to the U.S. so we can start brewing more Russian River beers.

    Prost!

    Floris

  • Fula, Taras Boulba & Tear Gas

     

    proost blog 04.27.17

     

    Casco Viejo, Ciudad de Panama, Panama

    Back in Panama meeting my friends Jonathan, Stefano and Noel from Casa Bruja, a small craft brewery located in Panama City. We meet in Casco Viejo at La Rana Dorada, Panama’s oldest brewery, not counting of course the two big breweries. These two are not really Panamanian either, Cervecería Nacional de Panama was owned by SABMiller and is now ABI – who can keep up! – and Cervecería Barú is owned and operated by Heineken. I had already tasted the Rana Dorada Blanche the previous night, a light Belgian white, technically sound. Stefano suggests we try the new Gose, somehow I believe that goses were invented for these lands. The Rana Dorada gose turns out to be more of a Berliner Weiss spiked with some tropical juice, interesting and refreshing for sure.

    We discuss the Casa Bruja beers. I did a random sampling in the market the previous days. The Casa Bruja IPA ChivoPerro is standing strong, a nice west coast example, good beer. Then there is Casa Bruja Tigres and Fula, an exciting mix of flavours. While we chat about Fula there is suddenly a lot of commotion, men in uniforms appear and we feel tear gas in the air. This is the first time I have been tear gassed while tasting cervezas artesanales, what becomes somewhat of a challenge! Time to get out of here.

    No worries, Jonathan is Panamanian, knows the city and suggests we move on to a new location. They take me to LB Bieren, an unbelievable beer bar, a beer temple really, with an impressive Belgian beer list. It’s just like coming home. The store & bar is tucked away in a little mall in the San Fransisco neighbourhood of Panama City next to the Mona Lisa, a bar where you go for more then a beer. Different.

    We kick it off with Taras Boulba from Brasserie de la Senne, although brewed almost on the other side of the world the beer is classic, one of the best beers from Belgium these days. Stefano has disappeared to get some extra ice, what does he have in mind? He comes back with a bucket full of Oude Kriek (Oud Beersel). It is 10.30 at night, perfect temperature and little breeze coming in from the ocean. Tonight is fast becoming one of my top five beer drinking experiences. The acidity and the cherries of the Kriek mixed with the light saltiness in the air. The tropical sweetness of tobacco leaves is everywhere, almost a touch musty, the perfect storm to drink an Oud Beersel Kriek.

    More people fill the three parking spots in front of LB Bieren, inside more and more people sit next to each other, all tasting Belgian beers. I see Witkap, La Choufe, Achel, Brugse Zot, at a table every body is drinking Westmalle Tripel, always a favorite of mine. I see a Palm and a group of five guys all with Rodenbach Grand Cru what is on draft tonight.

    De Donde usted? ¡Belgica! Yo estoy orgulloso esta noche.

    – Floris

     

    proost: [noun] “cheers!” in Flemish; usually said when drinking with friends and family.

  • Belize Brewing Company – Family + Beer/Cervecería Familiar en Belice

     

    proost blog 04.05.17

     

    Ciudad de Belice, Belice.

    La brisa del mar Caribe es muy fuerte. Todos están ocupados ultimando detalles para tener todo listo. Pronto los buses comenzarán a llegar trayendo a los empleados de la cervecería y sus familias de todas partes del país a la ciudad. Es un día Familiar en Belize Brewing Company Ltd. La cervecería es parte de Bowen & Bowen, una compañía de bebidas, propiedad de Michael Bowen, tercera generación Bowen, tercera generación fabricando cerveza, refrescos y agua para todos los habitantes de Belice.

    Todo comenzó mucho antes de que Belice se independizara. Los piratas ya se habían retirado; todavía tenía el nombre de Honduras Británica cuando un día Padre e hijo juntos (El padre de Michael, Sir Barry) crearon una cervecería en una sociedad de cincuenta y cincuenta. Compraron una vieja casa de 1928 y comenzaron a fabricar cerveza. No fue fácil el primer año, la Cervecería Hondureña de San Pedro Sula los ayudó un poco.

    En mi primer viaje a Belice, a finales de los años noventa, la cervecería todavía estaba funcionando bajo la dirección del legendario maestro de cervecero Alfred Teufel… un maestro de los que ya no hay. Alfred sabía cómo hacer buena cerveza de la nada. Hoy en día, las operaciones de la cervecería están a cargo del maestro cervecero Nolan Michael, el primer beliceño que no lleva el título. La cerveza es mejor. Una nueva cervecería, totalmente renovada que produce cerca de 145.000 hl de cerveza fresca de Belice al año.

    Hoy, en el Día de la Familia, todos están presentes. Competencias de fútbol, ​​tirón de soga y voleibol se disfrutan entre los centros de distribución. Todavía hoy, la flota de camiones, barcos, pick-ups y motocicletas de Belize Brewing Company deja caer una cajita de cerveza en cualquier parte del país cuando ordenas 24 botellas. Excelente personal trabaja comprometido día a día. Las dos cervezas insignia son la Belikin, una lager europea que la gente aquí llama “regular”, sin embargo no tiene nada de “regular”. Un clásico alemán en Centroamérica. Esta cerveza con mucho carácter, malta y un toque salado hace que sea una cerveza encantadora… perfecta compañía para la brisa del mar.

    La otra cerveza es Belikin Stout, muy popular entre la población de la costa, desde la ciudad de Belice a Stann Creek y Dangriga. Stout, una cerveza rica en tradición y alcohol con 6.4% ABV, es perfecta para beber al sol. Si realmente quieres beberla de la manera correcta, entonces necesita que se caliente un poco y antes de tomarla debes ponerle un huevo entero. Una verdadera joya es su cerveza de Navidad, Sorrel Stout hecha con una fruta local (Hibiscus – Flor de Jamaica) utilizada para tartas y té… y ahora también para hacer cerveza. Rica mezcla de suavidad con sabores de café, caramelo y chocolate. Si visitas Belice en Diciembre… tienes que probarla!

    Es hora de tomar cerveza y compartir con amigos. Los niños se divierten. Al mediodía, todos comienzan a hacer la fila para el almuerzo. Una tradición del Día de la Familia es el pollo estofado con arroz, frijoles y plátano. Un plato clásico de Belice. Shelley, la hermana mayor de Michael, es la Directora de Marketing, pero hoy se encarga del almuerzo. Ella contrato los servicios de catering para lograr tener 3.000 comidas listas para el equipo completo. Me pregunto: “ ¿si Belize Brewing Company formara parte de ABI, celebrarían el Día de la Familia aquí en Belice? Me alegro de que no sea el caso y me parece maravilloso que aquí hay una fábrica de cerveza que se toma su trabajo en serio para la comunidad y el país, y no se aparta de las responsabilidades. Gracias Michael y Shelley, otra vez un gran Día de la Familia en Bowen & Bowen.

    Go deh Strong !

     


    Belize City, Belize

    The breeze from the Caribbean sea is strong. Everybody is busy with last touches, getting all ready. Soon the buses will start arriving from all the distribution centers country-wide, bringing brewery employees and their family to the city. It is Family Day at Belize Brewing Company Ltd. The brewery is part of Bowen & Bowen, the beverage group owned by Michael Bowen, third generation Bowen, third generation of brewing beer, making soft drinks and selling Crystal water to all the people of Belize.

    It started all long before Belize became independent.  Pirates were gone; the land was still called British Honduras and a father and son (Michael’s father, Sir Barry) created a brewery in a fifty-fifty partnership. It was not easy that first year and Cerveceria Hondureña from San Pedro Sula, Honduras came to help. They invested with an old copper German brew house from 1928 and the brewery was on track.

    On my first trip to Belize in the late nineties the brew house was still in operation under the legendary guidance of brew master Alfred Teufel, a brew master like they don’t produce anymore. Alfred knew how to make good beer from nothing.  Today, brewing operations are in the firm hands of brew master Nolan Michael, the first Belizean to ever hold the title. The beer is better too. A new brew house – really an entire new brewery – now produces about 145,000 hl of fresh Belizean beer each year.

    Today at Family Day everybody is present; soccer, tug-of-war, volleyball competitions between distribution centers are in full swing. Still today, Belize Brewing Company’s fleet of trucks, boats, pick-ups and motorcycles will drop you off a crate of their beer anywhere in the country when you order 24 bottles – you can mix them up the way you like; a committed work force and staff. The two flagships are Belikin, a European lager the people here call Regular, however nothing “regular” about it, the last all malt classic German lager in Central America. A rich malty character, well lagered, a touch of saltiness what makes this a lovely beer today for sure with the sea breeze.

    Second beer is Belikin Stout, very popular with the Garifuna population along the coast, from Belize City to Stann Creek and Dangriga. Stout, a beer rich in tradition and alcohol with 6.4% ABV, a unique beer to drink in the sun. If you really want to drink it the right way then you need to let it warm up and put an egg in it.  A real gem is their Christmas beer, Sorrel Stout made with a local fruit (Hibiscus – Flor de Jamaica) used for pies and tea and now also for beer. Rich sweetness mixed with the coffee, caramel and chocolate flavours of the stout. If you find yourself in December in Belize, make sure you try this one.

    Time to have a beer now and catch up with friends. Kids are having fun with all the rides and the water truck. Noon, people are staring to line up for lunch. A Family Day tradition is stewed chicken with rice and beans, some plantain as well, a classic Belize dish. Shelley, Michael’s older sister, normally the Marketing Director rest of the year, took care of lunch today. She brought every little caterer in Belize together to get 3,000 meals ready for the entire crew today. I wonder and ask myself, if Belize Brewing Company were part of ABI would their still be a Family Day here in Belize? Glad that is not the case and wonderful that here is another brewery that takes it’s sense of duty to people and country serious and does not shy away from responsibilities in the community. Thanks Michael, thanks Shelley, again a great Bowen & Bowen Family Day.

    Go deh Strong !

    Floris

    proost: [noun] “cheers!” in Flemish; usually said when drinking.

  • De Koninck Belgium De Koninck – Alle mannekes, Sante!

    proost blog 03.17.2017

     

    Antwerp, Belgium

    I made it but I am too late. It is a quarter after six and the new – beautifully renovated! – De Koninck Brewery in Antwerp, Belgium has just closed after a busy day of visitors and craft beer fans. I have been here before the brewery was acquired by the Moortgat family – proud, skilled Belgian brewers, makers of the famous Duvel – brewers who take brewing seriously and a family that has contributed tremendously to the rich beer history of Belgium.

    De Koninck is actually the first brewery I ever visited while in brewing school and I have been privileged to have returned many times since. It was exciting the first time Bernard Van den Bogaert, the previous owner and brew master, gave a tour. The old direct fired kettles in the brew house, the unique propagation system, a tour was always fun and never disappointed, always ending in the lab upstairs with a few bollekes as the De Koninck beer is called here in Antwerp, where I was born.

    One visit with Bernard, my brother Marnix and Jeff Lebesch, who started the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado with Kim Jordan, was very memorable. It was a Friday later afternoon and we wanted to check the open top fermenters after a few bollekes but almost got killed because the last cellar man had turned off the ventilation system of the cellars at noon for the weekend. I remember ever energetic Bernard saying, “No problem, no need to leave that on during the weekend!” Still gasping for air, we crossed the street to the Pelgrim, a famous bar across from the brewery where many years earlier I had my first De Koninck with the classic shot glass of brewery fresh yeast, a colorful tradition. There was always something new to learn from Bernard. He always sponsored our yearly parties while I was at the university with kegs of his beer – De Koninck – memorable times, always.

    I found myself at Brasserie de Pelgrim again this evening – across from the brewery – for the 71st birthday of my mother, Jannemie. The whole family is present to celebrate. My family loves a good glass of beer and we sure are at the right place to celebrate. I start with a La Chouffe from the tap. La Chouffe is an unfiltered blond beer, refermented on both bottle and keg, pretty fruity, a touch spicy, a great starter. My brother Marnix, a port captain here at the harbour in Antwerp, keeps the tempo up. Second in-line is a bolleke, the De Koninck, this beer has had its ups and downs but is now better then ever before. Great work Sven!

    I translate from the beer menu: “this is the taste of Antwerp, the roughness of the port, the energy of people drinking on the many terraskes, of bicycles of the River Scheldt. It is Antwerp in a bottle.” This beer is really a classic and sure has inspired many brewers, rightly so, I would count myself as one of them!

    Next in line is Wild Jo, a new beer inspired by the creativity of the craft brewing scene in North America. A mix of earthy and floral tones, a nose that will wake up the sloppy drinker but excite the connoisseur with a mix of sweetness, acidity and a neat hoppy aftertaste, worthy every time. Now that De Koninck is part of the Moortgat family other great beers are on the menu, classics worth every drop: Liefmans GoudenBand, Duvel (as well as the Tripel Hop 2016, La Chouffe Houblon, Vedette, Boulevard (yes, Steven’s Tank 7 is here too), De Koninck Flowering Citrus Ale, a cooperation with New Belgium, Maredsous. The beer list is long but we are in Antwerp and I certainly have time for another bolleke.

    Alle mannekes, Sante!

    Floris

    DeKoninck proost blog

  • Casa Bruja Brewing Company Casa Bruja – Respeta El Lupulo!

    proost! blog 02.24.2017

     

    Parque Industrial de Costa del Este. Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá

    Aunque son pequeños comparados con sus vecinos del Parque Industrial de Costa del Este en la Ciudad de Panamá, todos los guardias de seguridad saben responder cuando alguien les pregunta: “Donde es Casa Bruja?”. Me enteré de esta nueva cervecería cuando estaba en Ciudad de Panamá con mi familia durante unas vacaciones. Una tarde en un bar me recomendaron probar la Fula, una rubia tropical, bastante fuerte, pero con un sabor único.

    Estaba viajando, y gracias a una escala de 6 horas, me detuve en Panamá para conocer más sobre Casa Bruja. El dueño y cervecero Jonathan, aprendió sobre el negocio en BrewDog, Escocia, y Stefano, nueva generación de cerveceros con raíces italianas, alemanas y un poco de Tico, fueron los anfitriones perfectos. Conocedores de sus cervezas, divertidos para compartir historias y ansiosos por aprender más sobre la cerveza.

    Ya había probado la Fula un par de semanas atrás, una cerveza perfecta para el clima panameño y su comida, así que era tiempo de probar otras. El mejor momento fue cuando probé la Mango Biche, esta mezcla de diferentes fermentaciones tiene una gran historia de un barril olvidado y es, probablemente, la mejor cerveza que he probado en Centroamérica. Chitra, “el pequeño mosquito”, me sorprendió. Esta IPA es muy fácil de tomar, tiene una combinación de lúpulos increíble. La siguiente cerveza tampoco me decepcionó, una serie de Gose llamadas Brujería. Probé dos versiones, una versión vieja embotellada y una nueva fresca del tanque. Una mezcla encantadora de dulces, salados y un toque seco. Stefano mencionó que esta cerveza fue pensada para maridar con las riquezas de la cocina panameña: frutas amargas y maduras, platos salados y ceviche. Tenía sed y me trajeron una Belgian white, un estilo de la madre patria, muy fresca la Tres Triste Tigres. Esta cerveza tiene “algo”, una mezcla de limón y cilantro. Jonathan me comento que las naranjas panameñas que utilizan son casi verdes y con mucho sabor a limón… me encantan estos ingredientes locales.

    Tenía que regresar al aeropuerto y tomar mi vuelo, Copa 302 a Los Ángeles. Terminamos la visita con los demás integrantes del equipo de la cervecería: Carolina, Jessica, y Carlos en el bar. Casa Bruja, una visita obligada para todos los fanáticos de la buena cerveza, sin lugar a dudas muy bien elaborada. Este apasionado equipo seguramente en su camino lograra hacer una marca mucho más allá de las fronteras de Panamá. Me recuerdan la razón por la que todos empezamos a preparar cerveza y por qué nos gusta la buena cerveza.

    Respeta el Lúpulo!


    Parque Industrial del Este, Panama City, Panama

    Although small compared to its bigger neighbors in the industrial park east of Panama City, all the security guards know where to find them when you ask, “Donde es Casa Bruja?” I learned of this new brewery when I was in Panama City with the family over the holidays. One afternoon a waitress suggested we try Fula – a tropical blonde – straightforward nose but unique aftertaste. Now – on an intended 6-hour layover – I stopped by to learn more about Casa Bruja (the Witch House). Owner-brewer Jonathan, who learned the trade at BrewDog in Scotland, and Stefano, the new generation head brewer with Italian, German and Tico roots, were the perfect hosts – knowledgeable about their beers, fun to share stories and beer with, and eager to learn.

    I had already had my fair share of Fula a couple weeks ago, a great beer for the Panamanian weather and food so it was time try some of the other beers. The highlight might have been Mango Biche, a mango sour, a great story of a forgotten barrel now probably the best intended sour beer I have ever had in Central America. High marks too for Chitra, “the little mosquito,” a very sessionable IPA with a rich bouquet of Mosaic and Citra. Next beer did not disappoint either, a series of Goses called Brujeria. We tried two versions, a bottled older version and a new – fresh from the tank – lovely mix of sweet, salty and almost mineral undertones. Stefano mentioned that this beer destined to pair well with the riches of the Panamanian kitchen: sour and ripe fruits, salty dishes, ceviche. I was thirsty – really? – so they brought me a Belgian white, a style from the motherland, very fresh Tres Triste Tigres. This beer had a note, a mix of lemon verbena and coriander. Jonathan pointed out that the Panamanian oranges they use are almost green and very lemony, lovely these local ingredients.

    There was a flight to catch, Copa 302 to Los Angeles was not waiting forever. We ended the visit with more of the brewery team, Carolina, Jessica, and Carlos at the bar. Casa Bruja, a must stop for every fan of real well crafted beer visiting Panama City or changing planes at Tocumen. A passionate brewery team surely on their way to make a mark well beyond the borders of Panama. They remind me of the reason why we all started brewing and why we love good beer.

    Respeta el Lupolo!

    Buen Viaje,

    Floris

    Casa Bruja

  • treintaycinco

    proost blog 02.21.2017

     

    A veinte minutos del aeropuerto de Santamaría en Alajuela, Costa Rica nos encontramos en una maravilla región de cerveza artesanal. Las bolsas de malta Weyermann de Alemania en un lado y la paleta de Delerium Tremins de Bélgica en otro, nos indican que estamos en el lugar correcto: Treintaycinco – Fabrica de Cervezas.

    Esteban, nuestro anfitrión, muy simpático y conocedor de cerveza nos lleva a conocer su nueva planta, una cervecería bien diseñada con espacio para crecer y, lo que es más importante: limpio, muy limpio, un claro recordatorio de que estamos en una cervecería en el trópico. Se siente un poco como en la década de los noventa en los EE.UU., emoción y energía lo cual es maravilloso. Siempre me he preguntado cómo será preparar cerveza en un clima donde a poco minutos se encuentra la selva. Hay más levadura salvaje en el aire que oxígeno. El equipo es capaz de manejar la levadura aquí de una manera saludable, y eso no es una tarea fácil. Felicitaciones!

    Hora de probar las cervezas. Esteban está listo y nos preparó un tasting completo. No tenía un orden especifico… créanme que cualquiera se gana el primer lugar. Comienza con una historia algo mística sobre la primera cerveza – sin compartir ningún ingrediente – esta se llama: TUMBACALZONES. La cerveza está hecha con flores de Jamaica (Hibiscus o Sorrel), una fruta clásica y común, que se encuentra casi en cualquier lugar de Centroamérica. Esta cerveza definitivamente te quita la sed, es balanceada, y perfecta para este clima del trópico. La siguiente es MAMA CANDELLA, tropical… bien digna de su nombre. Un toque meloso para mí pero con la rica dulzura de la miel, muy floral. Me sorprende cada vez que una cerveza fuerte elaborada en la gama ABV 6-7 (%) resulte ser una cerveza maravillosa para estos climas. Por último, bebemos La PELONA, esta IPA con un toque de sus hermanos de la Costa Oeste de Estados Unidos, pero más cítrica, sin ser demasiado. Es muy interesante que una IPA esté presente aquí, las generaciones han estado bebiendo cerveza de inspiración alemana en esta región, es un testimonio de este interés mundial por nuevos sabores y gustos, eso me hace sentir muy orgulloso.

    Esteban y su equipo, sigan el excelente trabajo que están haciendo, sé que no es fácil, pero es digno, con mucha inspiración y bien ejecutado!. Todos los demás, tienen que buscar las botellas pequeñas cuando estén en el supermercado en Costa Rica o mejor aún visiten la cervecería, no se decepcionaran, al contrario tendrán una experiencia que no olvidarán nunca al probar estas maravillas.

     

    Bebe Local, Bebe Artesanal, Bebe Independiente!

     


    Twenty minutes from the Santamaría airport in Alajuela, Costa Rica we found ourselves in a wonderful enclave of hand crafted beer. The bags of Weyermann malt from Germany on one side and the pallet of Delerium Tremins from Belgium on the other side tell all – we were at the right place, we are at treintaycinco – Fabricas de Cervecas.

    Esteban, our enthusiastic and knowledgable host takes us around in their new brewing facility, a well designed brewery with space to grow and, even more important: clean, very clean, a clear reminder that we are in a brewery in the tropics. It feels a bit like the late nineties in the US, excitement – a touch of flying blind – and energy, lots of it, wonderful. I have always wondered how it is to brew in a climate where a petri dish left open for a few minutes becomes a jungle too, there is more candida in the air then oxygen. Trying the beers made it obvious, the brewery team is able to manage healthy yeast here, no simple task. Congrats.

    Time to taste some beers. Esteban is ready and helps us drink through a stellar line-up. The highlights, in no specific order, are all worthy of first place.  He starts with a somewhat mystic story about the first beer – without sharing any ingredients- called: TUMBACALZONES. The beer is made with Flores de Jamaica (Hibiscus or Sorrel), a classic and common but somewhat outdated fruit you find almost anywhere here in Central America. A classy thirst quencher, well balanced, this sure will do well in this tropic climate. Next is MAMA CANDELLA, a tropical stout well worth it’s name. A touch syrupy for me but with a rich sweetness from the honey, very floral. It surprises me every time that a stout brewed in the 6-7 (%) ABV range is a wonderful beer to have in these climates. Last, we drink La PELONA, an IPA with a hint of it’s U.S. West Coast siblings but more citrusy, without being too much. The idea that IPA’s here are having a following – generations have been drinking German inspired lagers in this region – is testament to this global interest in new flavours and tastes, it makes me proud.

    Esteban and team, keep up the good work, I know it is not easy but sure worthy, great inspiration and well executed beers! Everybody else, look for the little stubby bottles when you are in a supermarket in Costa Rica or even better visit the brewery, no need to worry, you won’t be disappointed rather have an experience you won’t forget tasting some of these wonders.

    Bebe Local, Bebe Artisanal, Bebe Independiente!

    Buen viaje,

    Floris

    treintaycinco