Malted Barley Appreciation Society Newsletter

April 1999

Notes from Last Month’s Meeting

By Lucy Zachman

After much work preparing for our very successful contest, we took it kind of easy at the March meeting. Many prizes were raffled and much brew consumed. Rob from Widmer brewery encouraged this behavior by providing us with numerous samples of this Oregon brewery's products.

Widmer was started by two brothers (Kurt and Rob) who also played a major role in starting up the Oregon Brewers' Festival. Today the brewer has over 120 employees and their beers are available in 16 states. Widmer has recently made an agreement with Anheuser Busch to distribute their products which should increase sales even more.

Included in Rob's selection of samples were:


Along with producing a fine line of beers, Widmer has also taken an interest in working with and cultivating its local homebrewers. In fact, a group of homebrewers called the Brew Crew helped to develop Collaborator, a recent Widmer-produced doppelbock. Not only is the beer brewed at Widmer, but also the profits are split 50/50 between a charity and the brew club. While we didn't have the opportunity to taste this beer, it is terrific to have a large brewery so supportive of their local clubs. Other beers this collaboration has produced include a milk stout that turned out very well, and a Belgian double that turned out not so well. Just like homebrewing!

As for future plans, expect to see a Widmer Grand Cru in the near future.

From the Editors' Disk

It is with great pleasure and a little anxiety that we take the reins of the MBAS Newsletter. We want to thank Bill Coleman for his successes in the past and assure all of you that Salty Dog will remain our front page. Thanks, Bill, you deserve a break and we will do our best to live up to the standards you set. That said, we will also try to make the Newsletter even better than it has been with more pictures and perhaps some new recurring columns. If you would like to become a contributor, please let us know. Just send in your column and we'll find a place for it.

Here's our first adventure: How many of you would like to receive the MBAS Newsletter in electronic format? It would come as an attachment to an email in some common format or formats such as Microsoft Word (.DOC) or Adobe (.PDF) files. Getting the newsletter electronically has a couple of advantages: 1) it would save the MBAS treasury for other things, and 2) you would get the pictures in color. If there are enough members who would like to receive it in a new format, we'll do so. However, we will always have a print version available for those who don't have email access. You can let us know how you feel about this by emailing either Joanne or Andrew ( or or calling us at 212-787-3856.

Bopping Around Belgium, Part 4

By Bill Coleman

The next day was Thursday. We had to pick up Jim at the airport. We had no breweries scheduled, but we were going to be at Bruges in the evening. We decided two things: first, on the way to Bruges, we were going to stop in Ghent, and go to the Hopduvel bar and also the Hopduvel beer distributor; second, that this would be the best day to go to Bavik. We kept our fingers crossed, hoping that the brewer would not be too annoyed with us homebrewers for changing our plans again.

We drove to the airport, got Jim, and Warren stopped at a phone and called the Bavik Brewery. It took some talking, but Warren's always good at that, and, finally, he got the brewer to agree to give us a tour! We made our way out there, and arrived at the brewery.

When we arrived, the brewer, Chris Van Engle, was at first a little suspicious. "Why are you doing this?" he asked "Are you trying to learn all our secrets, to make money from them?" We explained that we are homebrewers. "I'm against that," he said "because there are a lot of breweries out there that don't know how to make beer." We told him we know all about that, and agree with him, but that we were not commercial brewers, but do it for a hobby. Anyway, he soon warmed up, and eventually proved to be quite a generous host. He mentioned that the Old Bruin, aged also for 18 months in oak, had to be reformulated in recent years, because tastes in Belgium have been getting sweet in recent years, due to children learning to drink from Coca-Cola. Ah! Now we know why there are school tours at the Cantillon Brewery, with students sampling the beers at the end of the trip--someone's trying to teach them good taste in beer. When we mentioned that we would be visiting the La Chouffe Brewery, we were told to talk to a young scientist who was working on a yeast propagation machine for both breweries.

I brought out a couple of my own homebrews to sample. The spiced wit didn't go over well at all, being way too spicy, but the dubbel and strong dark ale met with some approving comments; the main criticism being that the beers were underattenuated. The best beer we sampled at the brewery, of course, was not mine; there was some four-year old Oud Bruin which was quite wonderful. The Wittekerke beer, named after a Belgian soap opera, and the other beers (what were they?) were also quite delicious.

After this trip, it was up to Ghent. The Hopduvel was quite a wonderful place, with some delicious beers, including a De Troch gueuze from the 1970's! They were making them pretty authentically in those days, too! We had several other beers, but I didn't take good notes. However, I did try St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition, made by the Von Honsebrouck Brewery we had already visited, which is the only authentic gueuze made outside of the immediate Sienne valley area, and much more sour and complex than the St. Louis beer imported to the US.

After that, we when to the Hopduvel Beer Distributor. Imagine a big beer warehouse with nothing but Belgian beer! In addition to the beer, I also picked up a map, which included the locations of all the breweries in Belgium. This came in quite handy for the rest of the trip.

On to Bruges, a beautiful, medieval city, and also a tourist trap. I heard more English spoken there, by both English and Americans, then anywhere else in my trip. We had some trouble parking our car, but finally did so. We found that the hotel we planned to stay at was actually a hostel, which we weren't really in the mood for. However, just next door was another hotel, and this being off-season, we got a room immediately without a reservation. We went out to eat, and then went to the Bruges Beertje, where we had some wonderful beers, including Ichtegems, another wonderful Flanders red, with a perfect balance of sweet and sour flavors. Unfortunately, when we went out to check out another place, we found everything else was closed. We had started out a little late! One of my few regrets on this trip was that we didn't have time to explore Bruges further.

The next morning, after wandering around a bit, we headed for the car to begin our drive to De Dolle Brouwers, in Esen, the next visit arranged by Warren. Jim did the driving on this trip, which I'm certain was appreciated by Warren.

It took a little looking, but when we found the town, they seemed to be pretty well known there. We actually drove by the brewery at first, but finally located it, and were given the grand tour by Chris, one of the two owners, who had brewed that day, and was also taking care of a young son while we were there. The equipment is an amazing mixture of vintage, modern, and jerry-rigged, and they certainly produce some wonderful beer. It was amazing to see the open fermenters at full krausen (what if someone dropped a shoe into the batch?), and we had a chance to sample many wonderful De Dolle beers, including an amazing bottle of 1981 Oerbier! We also exchanged t-shirts, gave Chris a glass and some homebrew to drink, and took a picture-see it in advertisements in the future-don't forget, $15 a t-shirt! Dazed and satisfied, we headed to the car for our next stop, the Lindeman's brewery, back in the direction of Brussels.

It was an interesting tour, and it was pleasant to see the traditional lambic equipment and sample some wonderful Cuv�e Ren�, but I must admit I don't have any strong memories of this visit. Do you, Warren?

At this point, we prepared to drive down to Pipaix for what was the high point, if there was one, of the entire trip, the Vapeur Brewery.

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