#12beersofxmas – Days 11 & 12

I’ll admit to being a bit tardy with my blog posts for this year’s series but I’ve got a legit excuse for not posting yesterday; Day 11 and 12 are a double act and so it seemed right to finish with a double post.Β The beers are Bourgogne des Flandres, Brune and Blonde from the Martin and Timmermans umbrella, picked up on a trip to Bruges earlier in the year.

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it sounds a bitΒ very cheesy, I know, but Bruges holds a special place in my heart, as soon as I stepped in to that old city I felt very much at home. It’s a very welcoming and relaxed place that I first visited three years ago as part of my honeymoon. Ok, so I was very loved up the first visit, but on returning this year, despite the often drab weather, it hadn’t lost any of its charm.

This time around my parents and brother came with, and also fell for the place. It was a highlight of what’s been a pretty good year, to be able to share one of my favourite places with my family and for them to embrace it. Needless to say the beer was also embraced! My brother grabbed the opportunity to explore Belgian beer styles and discovered new favourites, my Dad took a shining to Buffalo Stout and raves about it still, and my Mum, a fan of red wine, discovered a taste for the Lindemans fruit beers. I also had a few beer discoveries of my own; bars were discovered, Westy 12 became known to me, new bottle shops had popped up since my last visit and so too had the Bruges Beer Museum.

Walking along the narrow footpaths, trying to avoid being clouted by other tourist’s umbrellas or by passing horse carts or bikes, I decided to take some time out and jumped into the Bourgogne des Flandres bottle shop (another new addition since my previous visit). It was empty of other folks save for the shop keeper, a very enthusiastic chap who took the time to talk to me about beer, bars, untappd and cider. We were there for a while chatting and sampling the beers from tap (the Brune, a lambic and a Wit beer from a hazy memory). His time spent talking me through the beers worked and I walked out of the shop with both the Brune & Blonde and a couple of lambics.

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The Brune is a blend of an old brown ale and a lambic. It’s a rich mahogany in colour and gives off a vinous aroma. On the palate there’s an initial tart raspberry hit but it’s surprisingly subtle. I must admit that I was expecting something somewhat harsher in its sourness but this was far more gentle and balanced. Beyond the tart berry lies a balanced sweetness with a note of lemon juice and something more herbal, almost ginger-like, ginger beer perhaps, or one of those traditional herbal cola drinks. The sweetness becomes dominant and sticky and the finish is closer to that of a fizzy soft drink than a beer, maybe a bit thin but no bad thing though. The flavour evolution of this beer as I drank down the 330ml bottle was unique, surprising and very pleasant indeed.

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The Blonde avoids any blending and is a straight-up take on a traditional classic style. It pours glowing and clear with a frothy head giving off bready and slight citrus aromas. The taste is lightly bitter, bready and smooth with a gently weaving element of apricot into a dry finish with a herbal snap. It drinks lighter than its 6% abv, dangerously, this is a beer I could drink over and over.

And so 12 Beers of Xmas 2015 comes to an end. It’s been a great series, with some heavy hitters that’ve turned out to be some of my favourite beers of the year…maybe even of all time. I’ve really enjoyed seeing what everyone has been drinking too (I think I may be the only person to have not tried Yellow Belly) and have taken on some tips of beers to look out for and pick up. Big thanks to the Beer O’Clock Show for making this happen again and a Happy 2016 to all! Cheers Guys.

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Created by beer enthusiast Rach Smith, Look at Brew is a blog dedicated to celebrating great beer with style and substance by bringing you regular news, reviews and features

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