A Continental Tour

April 13, 2010

Well, I’m back from an Easter holiday on the continent where we managed a minor tour of Belgium, Holland and France, staying at various friends and family on the way round.  And as we took the car over on the ferry I managed to purchase a few continental ales too!  I didn’t manage to get any obscure Belgian ales, just the usual suspects of La Choufe, Westmalle, etc but at a greatly reduced price.  In Holland we ate lunch at the pico-brewery of De Drie Koningen where I was given a brief tour of their miniscule one room brewhouse.  They had a very interesting Belgian IPA on tap which smelled of fruit pastilles but had a goldings hop wallop at the end.  Very interesting.

And upon landing back in blighty we stopped off in York so I had a tour and sampling at the York Brewery.  The tour wasn’t huge.  You basically moved from the bar, to a room where you were told about beer making, to a look at the mash tun/copper, and then back to the bar again, but it was informative and enthusiastic.  I couldn’t glean many secrets but from memory they do a 90 minute mash, a single bittering and flavour aroma addition in the boil and they have there own house yeast which they skim and re-pitch from and ferment at between 17-18 degrees C.  The water is York tap water which they boil and leave to stand to remove the chlorine and to which they add gypsum.  It seemed a real no nonsense set up. The bags of malt and boxes of hops were piled around the rooms and it was nice to recognise the ingredients that I use at home but just on a much larger scale.  From the samples I had at the bar the Decade bitter was my favourite which used Chinook hops.  I returned to the car with several bottles clinking away in a hessian bag anyway so I’ll be sampling those at a later date.  And much to my wife’s amusement I took photos of the brewery!

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