Van Bulck

Van Bulck

Organic products are a way of life in the times we live in. No longer is it seen as a gimmick or a culture difference, but as accepted as any new brand can be. Van Bulck is the latest organic beer to hit the UK, and it promises a range that only a few brewers can master.

2013 saw an ex-chef and sommelier of 20 years by the name of Denis Renty create a three expression strong organic beer in partnership with a seven generation brewery. Based in Flanders in Belgium, renowned for growing some of the best hops available, Denis has adapted an old family recipe and tailored towards the palate of today. His mother still lives in Flanders and was a renowned chef in her own right. Her maiden name is Van Bulck, hence the name and inspiration, and still works only with organic products in the family hotel and restaurant.

The brewery has adapted itself to meet the strict requirements of brewing organic beers, to the point of the brewer was awarded by the ‘Fédération des études et recherches dans l’industrie de fermentation’ for his scientific study ‘The return of the hopping during the cooking of the wort and the loss of bitter agents during the further production process’.

A mentioned, the brewing process is something only few brewers master, seeing the use of gluten poor and organic barley malt within Van Bulck. This is said to result in a lighter, more balanced flavour that can match with a variety of food recipes.

So how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Van Bulck Gluten Free Organic Lager – 4.5%

Light, fresh aromas of honey and walnut come through on the nose. Very light upon the palate, with a thin flavour of honey following from the nose. A clean finish albeit a little dry.

Van Bulck Organic Blonde Beer – 4.6%

Herbal notes on the nose with liquorice, apple and soft apricot. Lively upon the palate, with a soft white fruit cover and fresh wheat aftertaste. Lingering freshness.

Van Bulck Wild Fruit Beer – 4.7%

Made with 7 different fruits – cherries, pomegranate, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, blackberries.
Plenty of ripe, raw red fruits on the nose, with the raspberries and grapefruit dominating. Very soft on the palate, with a subtle natural sweetness followed by strawberry and pomegranate flavours. A lingering finish of cherry.

Three very natural tasting expressions here, and I can see how they can be versatile when it comes to matching with food. For example, the organic lager would go well with oysters, crab, mussels and shellfish, whilst the blonde beer paired with white meat or lemon cake would go down very well. The wild fruit beer though would pair nicely with red fruits, venison or strong cheese such as the French styles or Stilton.

Worthy of a purchase if you are after a natural flavour, or fancy matching with any of the suggestions above. Enjoy!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

National Winter Ales Festival 2012

A couple of weeks ago, the National Winter Ales Festival rolled its way into the Sheridan Suite on Oldham Road, Manchester to showcase over 300 ales, ciders and perries to the Manchester public. In association with CAMRA and Robinsons Brewery, it promised a wide range of both national and local breweries, as well as International bottled ales, food, stalls and entertainment. Myself and a friend went along on the Friday to try our hand at a few!

A rather drizzle led night, we made the 20 minute walk from Piccadilly Gardens to the Sheridan Suite, where a que was forming outside the doors – always a good sign, especially when it was one in, one out. After finally making our way inside after paying a tidy sum of £5 to gain entry, we entered to what I can only describe as a large room filled with long rows of barrels, hand-pumps and hot food stalls, all entwined with a mixture of families, groups of adults both young and old and a flurry of volunteers pouring away.

After briefly browsing the many offerings, I plumped for Dry Stone by Hawkshead Brewery (4,5%), a well-balanced stout that had a long, dry finish, whilst my friend went for Happy Valley’s ‘Little Rascal’ (3.9%), a fantastic hop character created using Tomahawk, Columbus and Chinook hops. Next up was the ‘Centurion’s Ghost’ by York Brewery (5.4%), a dark, bitter ale that gave off a roasted malt flavour. A rather easy drinker! ‘Snow White’ by the Whim Brewery (4.8%) was chosen next by my friend, a coriander based wheat beer with a citrus zest taste on the palate.

We then sourced out the Robinsons Brewery table, where they had on offer ‘Old Tom’, ‘Old Tom Chocolate’ and their new ale, ‘Long Kiss Goodnight’. My friend plumped for the Old Tom Chocolate (6%) a chocolate infused variant on the award-winning Old Tom, whilst I went for the Long Kiss Goodnight (3.9%), a rather warm, floral mix of toffee and spice on the nose, with a rich hoppy biscuit taste on the palate.

Long Kiss Goodnight by Robinsons Brewery

Unfortunately due to the time we arrived, we only had time for one more, so we decided to wander over to the International ale table, where there were fridges full of interesting bottled ales from Belgium, Germany, Holland, Czech Republic and the USA. We went off the recommendation of one of the volunteers, and he offered us a Belgian Anker Boscoulis (3.5%) and a Timmermans Peche (4%). The Anker Bouscoulis was a rather sweet strawberry fruit beer (perfect for a man with a sweet tooth) with lasting flavour on the aftertaste, whilst the Timmermans Peche had a powerful peach aroma which created a dry taste on the palate.

Despite only sampling a few, the sheer scale of the place, as well as the ales on offer, would make it a daunting task for anyone, and a full day is recommended! I’ve always loved these ale festivals, as it’s the perfect chance to try something new, or sample an ale that you see around, but just never had the opportunity to try. Roll on next year!

For more photos of the Winter Ales Festival, click here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.