Slow day, birthday, plus 12 degrees outside ... that calls for a bit of a party, methinks. A mid-day beer tasting with a flight of authentic Belgian beers fits the bill. (Speaking of which, can you really call that a 'flight' the same way you would with wine? Maybe I need to take that beer course they have at Algonquin ...)
Lemme tell you, les Belges know their beer. (For the record, Stella to them is like Molson Canadian to us ... mass-produced, watery, cheap. Yet when we drink it on this side of the ocean, we consider it "classy". Go figure.)
Along with some cake and cookies, cheese and crackers, and a bowlful of Goldfish (huh?), we sampled four brews, each of them unique, each of them carrying the weight of Belgian history on their beefy shoulders.
Chimay Triple Pères Trappistes (8% abv) - Crafted by Cistercian Trappist monks since 1862, the proceeds gained from sales of the brew go to charity. The Triple has gone through in-bottle re-fermentation and is unpasteurized. Deep yellow-orange in colour; herbaceous nose with a hint of orange; creamy texture, mellow hops and a mildly bitter finish.
Mort Subite Kriek Lambic (4.5% abv) - 'Lambic' refers to the spontaneous fermentation of wild yeasts that occurs in this type of beer, as opposed to farmed strains being manipulated by the crafter. This particular lambic is a cherry fruit beer (flavoured or natural, I'm not sure.) Clear, deep pink colour; smells more like wine than anything fruity; sweet, but not cloying, with a light-to-medium body and tart finish. My fave of the bunch, and I don't even like cherries.
Früli Premium Belgian White Strawberry Beer (Van Diest Beer Company, 4.1% abv) - Not one of my favourites, this one is more candy than fruit. Even darker pink than the Kriek, and cloudy; very little carbonation; short-lived fruit and way too much artificial sweetness.
Duvel Strong Beer (8.5% abv) - Pronounced "doo-VEL" (devil), this one lives up to the strength of its name. Pale yellow, frothy head. Closer to a lager in both appearance and taste, with a bitter hops flavour on the palate and through the medium-length finish.
All the beers sampled (or a reasonable facsimile under the same label) can be found at the LCBO, but in limited quantities. The Beer Store carries Früli. If you're feeling daring, you could always do a little cross-border shopping at the SAQ. But I didn't tell you that.
Dank u, ma grande!