Monday is here, and it’s time to start another week. Pick of the Weekend is our weekly post where we recap our favorite brews of the weekend past.
What started in an opera house in Brussels in 1830 led quickly to riots, then resistance, then full revolution as the Belgian people clamored for independence from the Dutch. A couple hundred years later this all makes for a good excuse to enjoy some Belgian brews, and Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood dedicated all 24 of their taps to Belgian and Belgian-style beers to celebrate.
Over flights as diverse in flavors as beers can be, we marveled at how far beer culture has come (especially in Los Angeles) and how much work is still to be done educating people about beer’s wonders. Seated at the bar, we overheard several other patrons bemoan the lack of IPAs on the tap list, and we heard some claim to “not like Belgians”. While I won’t begrudge anyone their personal preference, that comment sounds about as ridiculous as “I don’t like Italians”; There are so many styles of Belgian beer, and so many different flavors and characteristics among them, that I cannot imagine someone who enjoys craft beer being unable to find a Belgian beer that they would enjoy. While the fermentation-driven flavor profiles of Belgian brews can be off-putting at first, with some experimentation and patience I think that anyone can learn to love Belgian-style beers.
And how better to experiment than with a 24-beer tap list with everything from fruited lambics to the Belgian takes on American IPAs?
There were a couple of stand-outs from Blue Palm’s tap list. The often derided Timmerman’s Lambicus Blanche was one. The beer is a cross between a Belgian wit beer and a lambic, and is light, tart, refreshing, and complex. I’m not sure why it gets so little love from the internet craft beer fans. Perhaps it is because the beer doesn’t fit neatly into a single style. Regardless, I found it a refreshing surprise among the fruited lambics on-offer.
The Petrus Aged Pale is an often over-looked sour beer that makes for a great introduction to the tart-side. Where the Blanche Lambicus gets knocked in internet review, the Petrus is well-loved, and it’s an easy to find and approachable sour beer that features a clean tartness without the sometimes off-putting funk of wild ales. The beer is the color of an IPA and similarly medium-bodied, but where an IPA is centered on hop flavors and bitterness, the Petrus is all about the tart zing.
Finally, and surprisingly, was a Belgian-style ale from America. Allagash Dubbel is the Maine brewery’s take on the traditional abbey style, but the brew showcases a spicy yeast character and lots of burnt sugar and caramel where many other abbey dubbels are more banana and dark-fruit forward. The beer was a pointed example of how much variety of flavors can there can be even among Belgian beers of the same style.