Wednesday, January 17, 2007

WHEN BELGIUM CAME CALLING: URTHEL HOP-IT

It makes this American beer junkie stand up with pride and tears in his eyes when I hear that Belgian brewers such as DE LEYERTH BROUWERIJEN are now incorporating “American” brewing styles into their repertoire. The popular pick over there seems to be the heavily-hopped American IPA or Double IPA – which is quite possibly my personal favorite style of beer. For years our country was a backwater of watered-down pilsners and uninteresting lagers, while the Belgians continued drawing from centuries of brewing tradition to create fantastic, robust, well-bodied ales. Nice to see that in really only 30 years or so, the US has got enough brewing panache to actually teach some Belgians a thing or two.

A couple of weeks ago, Hildegard and Bas Van Ostasden from De Leyerth Brouwerijen came to the San Francisco Bay Area to pair some of their beers with the excellent cooking of Bruce Paton for one of his near-monthly beer dinners. I didn’t go to this one, but word got out quickly that they were leaving some draft beer behind at The Toronado, San Francisco’s beer snob gathering place. Last week I visited the bar and immediately ordered up an URTHEL HOP-IT, the Van Ostaden’s Belgian interpretation of an American IPA. When drinking it, I tasted a somewhat muted but still highly hopped beer that was quite pleasing. It had almost none of the citrusy aroma or taste than many IPAs have, and was more bitter than what I’m used to, but not in a bad way, just different. Hop-It definitely could shift some units in the US if they decide to start importing it for real, as it’s got a lot of what the US beer cognoscenti goes for but with its own spin on the form, enough to make it stand out. I gave it a 7.5/10 & hopes that this importing scenario comes to pass.

2 comments:

Stan Hieronymus said...

Hop-It has been available - though not always easy to find - for about a year. Artisanal Imports is the importer. http://home.mn.rr.com/artisanal/deleyerth.html

You might also try Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel.

Anonymous said...

I was intrigued when I read in Celebrator about some Belgian breweries wanting to up the hop dosage ala West Coast USA breweries as I am a big fan of many belgian beers as well as a card-carrying hop-head. So I found a bottle of La Chouffe all-hopped up and I wasn't all that into it. Maybe my mouth can't process all of that info. I like my belgians and I like my steroid-hopped IPAs but why mix them? Why cloud the fun?