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Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor

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From the cellar: Van Steenberge Augustijn (St Stefanus) Grand Cru

Van Steenberge Augustijn Grand Cru

Augustijn Grand Cru

ABV: 9%
Origin: Ertvelde, Oost-Vlaanderen, Flanders
Website: www.vansteenberge.com
First published: 5 February 2001

Another review from the  written for the pioneering Oxford Database (OBBD). I’ve left it uncorrected — so please read it in that historical spirit.

Augustijn Grand Cru is still available from Van Steenberge, also known as Bios, a brewery I’ve since had the opportunity to visit. In certain territories including the UK it’s marketed by AB InBev under the name St Stefanus Grand Cru, though the brewery itself remains independent.

The brewery, in Ertvelde, East Flanders, is known for sweet-sour brown ales like Duchesse de Bourgogne [whoops — I meant Bios Vlaamse Bourgogne, now easier to find in the US than Belgium, under the name Monks Café Flemish Sour Red Ale], but this example from their generically-named abbey beer range is blond and tastily dry.

It’s a very delicate straw-coloured bottle conditioned beer that exudes an initially citric, later honeyed aroma full of the promise of hops, along with a malty smell that’s almost like soy sauce.  In the mouth it has a lively bead and is bone dry but honey-textured on the tongue.  The taste is complex: very herby, with some tangy, sherberty mango and passion fruit, intense hoppy dryness, and soft, phenolic and almost wheaty notes that finish with a flash of alcohol in a lingering, slightly soapy finish.

The name might suggest something in the style of Hoegaarden’s Grand Cru but this isn’t thick, rich or peachy enough and, despite the aromatic flavours, is not spiced.  Instead the model seems to be the herbaceous dryness of Orval, and while the beer falls considerably short of this Trappist masterpiece, it’s still an impressive and  stimulating ride.

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