Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tasting notes - De Proef Reinaert

With Belgian beer month having just passed into fond memory - hence the low yield of of posts through the month of April, no excuses yet for May - it's a good time to reminisce about some of the wonderful imports (oh Silly, oh Bernardus, oh Troubadour!) that made their way through the taplines at Toronado last month. But amidst the panoply of wickedly rare beverages that found themselves settled comfortably in my ample belly, wild ales were conspicuously absent from the varietal line-up. Enter the fox!

De Proef Brouwerij's Reinaert belongs to that family of beers that's oft neglected when it comes time to celebrate the products of the world's finest artisinal brewing culture, simply because while those events take advantage of the opportunity to open their market to a new audience, they worry that said audience isn't properly prepared for THE FUNK.
The what, you say? In the same way your mother would have discouraged you from drinking milk from a carton you'd left on the radiator for a few days, most professional brewers would discourage the novice from letting their beer get fermented from whatever microorganisms just happen to be hanging out in the cobwebs of your brewhouse. But there are distinctions amongst the wildbrewers of the world regarding how and when they allow the funk to funktimify their creations, amongst those the Flemish being the most conservative (with the possible exception of the British wood-barrel brewers who probably don't consider themselves "wild" at all, yet whose beers undeniably reveal low levels of bacterial infection through a malolactic fermentation that slowly softens and horses [read as a verb] up the beer during aging).
The vulpine entry in De Proef's phenomenal Brewmaster's Collection (which features such other luminaries as an imperial saison and imperial wit) is no more offensive at first blush than a saison with hints of oak and a touch of sourness. As it warms in the glass and your senses open up to it, however, the deeply complex aromas of yeast become more apparent, but nowhere near the face-melting barnyard bonanza one would encounter from a straight up geueze.
Like a diplomat from the great funky beyond, Reinaert might just serve to open discussions with the American craft beer enthusiast with an invitation to take a walk on the [redacted: I just couldn't bring myself to write it].

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