Aug 23, 2010

Ommegang/Duvel Tasting at Capital Alehouse

There’s nothing like taking a couple of days off for a much needed long weekend. There’s also nothing better than starting that time off with a beer and food pairing at Capital Alehouse in Fredericksburg.

The event entitled “Belgium Comes to Fredericksburg” went off without a hitch, combining some tasty Belgian beers on tap with wonderfully prepared hors d’oeuvres by executive chef Rebecca Jordan. The presentation was presided over by Duvel/Ommegang representative Steve Cardello who was knowledgeable and engaging — willing to sit down for a few minutes and talk beer history, culture and the future of the Moortgat owned products.

The beers featured on tap included mostly Duvel Moortgat products with the exception of Chimay’s Tripel (Chimay Red). The Bruery’s Tradewinds was also supposed to be available for the occasion, but complications in its delivery kept it out. It was faithfully replaced with d’Achouffe’s strong Pale Ale, La Chouffe.

My father-in-law and I showed up a bit early, but with more than a few dozen beers on tap available, we were not going to complain. While we waited for the crew to wrap up their own tasting and preparations, we sat down at the bar with a glass of New Holland’s Beehive Tripel. Brewed with wildflower honey, the tripel was pretty tasty with a delicate sweetness and only made us that much more excited to get to the brews lined up for the tasting.

Speaking of those beers. Lined-up for the event were (in order of presentation, I think): Ommegang Witte, Ommegang Hennepin, Maredsous 10, Chimay Tripel, La Chouffe, Ommegang Zuur, Houblon Chouffe, and Maredsous 8. Of the eight beers available, I have had all but the Zuur before, but none on draft. I was probably the most excited about the Houblon Chouffe, a tasty combination of Belgian tripel and double IPA.

We had a chance to speak with Steve Cardello (the Duvel rep) while the rest of the guests filed in. It sounds as though the next full-time release from Ommegang will be their Belgian Pale Ale which is currently in test markets. I also learned that due to the expense and complexity of aging the brewery’s Ommegeddon and newly released Zuur, they will most likely never been brewed again and are one-time offerings.

Tasty Food and Beer

Finally, after a few short rounds of introductions the tasting began with warm brie served over Maredsous marinated blackberries and a mixed tapas plate with spiced macadamia nuts and locally made sausage. Served with these items were the first two rounds of beer: Witte, Hennepin, Maredsous 10, and Chimay. Again, I forgot to take notes, so my memory of the exact beer order is a bit foggy. The first two rounds were excellent with the Hennepin and Maredsous 10 serving as the standouts for me.

Round three would prove to be an interesting combination with the La Chouffe and Zuur paired with an incredibly smoked salmon. The salmon was smoked for 14 hours and then drenched in honey to give it a honey baked ham like character. It was wonderful. The rarest beer of the bunch, the Ommegang Zuur, was a tasty, slightly funky, sour and tart cherry brew that also paired nicely with Beemster Cheese that was available. Being that this would probably be the one and only time to have this beer on draft, or ever for that matter, we ended up having another glass of it at the bar after the event had ended.

The rotation of food remained the same but were paired individually with each beer quite well. I don’t think I had a single complaint about any of the food or the actual pairings themselves. Granted, I was mostly there to sample some of my favorite beer on draft.

Both my father-in-law and I felt the Zuur would have been the perfect beer to end on. That said, the final round of samples proved to do a nice job of both cleansing the palate of the residual tartness and sourness and also to end the pairing quite well. The Houblon Chouffe, a personal highlight, proved to be more than adequate to follow up the Zuur. The hoppy tripel was refreshing and exactly what I was looking forward to.

Tasty Food and Beer

We ended the event with Steve’s own personal craft beer epiphany — the Maredsous 8. Much like a St. Bernardus Prior 8 I had the other day did, this “8” out-shined the higher ABV big brother, the “10.” It was rich and sweet with loads of dark fruits and an excellent lingering finish. Even though this last round proved out nicely, we still felt it necessary to end the event on the Zuur. So that’s what we did — head back up stairs to the bar and enjoyed this rare brew one last time before heading on home.

All-in-all, Capital Alehouse did a wonderful job pairing some very tasty food (I need to get some more of that sausage and smoked salmon) with some personal favorites of the beer world. I’m also thrilled to have had a chance to taste one of three or four kegs of Zuur that had been sent to the Virginia area.

Thanks to all the fine folks at Capital Alehouse (Mr. X included) for providing the opportunity to sample some truly wonderful food and beer.

More: , , , ,