It’s this time of the year again, “best off” lists can be found everywhere, the beerscene is no stranger to that. In february Ratebeer.com will announce their best off lists. I’m pretty sure the Belgian press will pick it up, as Westvleteren ussually is the best brewery in the world and many Belgian places have topscores in the “best beerplace to visit” category. Although Ratebeer.com is a very well managed database, it’s mainly used by “beergeeks” and so it’s limited in the number of users and ratings. Untappd.com however is more accesable, resulting in a couple of million users, not limited only to “the experts”. Untappd.com has a “toprated” list of beers and breweries, but I can not find myself in their terms to be included in this toplist (you need at least 5 beers, so Westvleteren is not even included, breweries with only 1000 ratings are already included, …). Still, given the number of ratings, Untappd could be the closest thing to an “objective” score on beers and breweries. Just keep in mind that most users will be found in the USA, so export oriented breweries will have more ratings. As most Belgian breweries and beerfirms are a local thing, most of them haven’t reached the 3000 rating limit I use to be included in the top 50 list.
My view on Untappd statistics …
I have been collecting data over two years about Belgian breweries and beerfirms or contractbrewers. My guide to wich breweries to include is the Zythos.be list of breweries and beerfirms. Only breweries or beerfirms with at least 3000 ratings can be included in the top 50 list. As many breweries will reach those 3000 ratings eventually, I’ve been collecting data on all breweries and beerfirms. You will also find those scores in a separate list.
The results … best Belgian breweries & beerfirms
How did we do?
Very well, I would say. We have entered the top 20 and when one would only look at ratings given in 2016, we would end up at number 12. This makes us very proud. Who would have thought we would achieve this when we started brewing in a gardenshet in 2004. It’s the result of hard work, lot’s of passion, creativity and a clear vision on what we want to do. We will try to do even better in 2017.
We were invited for the Smaakdown17 festival in Damme by Breandan from Siphon Brewery. Do you want to do a collaboration with an Irish brewery, he asked? Ofcourse we will. This link will guide you to an article written by Kevin Desmet. It’s great read on the collabbrewbrew itself and has all the info on the small festival in Damme..
What’s so exclusive about these beers?
For one all of them are barrel aged, although at Alvinne that’s not really that suprising. What does make it exceptional is that all of this fruit is handpicked by Glenn, with some help of family members and students of the school Glenn teaches at. This freshly harvested fruit is then added straight to the oak barrels to macerate for a couple of months.
About the barrels
Cuvée Sofie Kriek Framboos was aged on a Burgundy barrel (Gevrey-Chambertin). The beer aged for 7 months, the Schaarbeekse Kriek were added end of july, the raspberries during september.
Cuvée Sofie Alvino was aged on two red wine barrels, one being a Bordeaux (Margaux) barrel, the other being a Burgundy (Vosne-Romanée) barrel. The beer aged for about 5 months, the grapes (Boskoop variety) from our own vine were added in september.
Wild West Barrel 58 is actually a blend of Wild West and Cuvée Sofie. This beer was aged for 6 months on a 300l Viex Pinneau de Charentes barrel, barrel number 58. The fruit was added over this period.
About the fruit
Cuvée Sofie Kriek Framboos 2016. 20 kg Schaarbeekse Krieken from a small orchard in Neerbeek-Brakel and 10 kg fall raspberries grown by students of SBSO ‘t Vurstjen in Evergem (special Ed school)
Cuvée Sofie Alvino 2016. 2 x 20 kg of Boskoop grapes, grown by Davy’s mum
Wild West Barrel 58. 13 kg of sloeberries harvested around the brewery, 3 kg of blueberries harvested in France (Col du Fignel) and 7 kg of blackberries harvested around my hometown.
When I met Xavier and Xavi from Cervesa Guineu (Catalonia, Spain) at Villagio della Birra in Italy, I knew we would meet again. I heard Xavier was coming over to the Netherlands to do a collaborationbrew with Brouwerij Kees, wich was a perfect opportunity to invite him over to Alvinne as well. Guineu is the Catalan word for fox, Cervesa Guineu is located about an hour inland from Barcelona.
We decided on brewing a historic style of beer, Grisette. Grisette is a fairly clear pale beer that was refreshing to drink in summertime. The beer was generaly of lower strenght, was not designed to be aged and although most likely of mixed fermentation it wasn’t acidic due to the high hopping rates. Grisettes were brewed in Hainaut province. While Saisons are rooted in the farm, Grisettes are rooted in the industry (mining). This style of beer was brewed in the 18th and 19th century. The origin of the name is not totally clear. Many think it refers to young women who worked in factories and wore a distinctive grey frock as a uniform. These young women, grisettes, would hold trays of ale to refresh the miners. Others will link the name to the stone mined in the Northern Hainaut province.
So what about the recipe? Well, we decided to use the sources Dave Jansen is quoting in his blog “Hors Categorie Brewing”. Grisette was a wheat beer and the wheat was malted, we used up to 25-30% of both wheat and spelt, giving an OG of 10°P. Generally, Belgian hops were used. This is the only modern twist we gave to the recipe, by using Mount Hood hops (quite simular to German Hallertau and Hersbrucker), mainly for aroma. For bittering we used Hallertau Magnum, reaching a bitterness of 25 to 30 EBU. The yeast was easy, as mixed fermentation was generally used, Morpheusyeast was the one and only option.
As we didn’t want any problem with Brasserie St-Feuillin, which has been able to trademark Grisette as a brand instead of a style, we’ve decided to call the beer Borinage. It’s a refreshing tribute to the many Flemish workers that use to mine the Hainaut province.
This beer is available both in kegs as in 33 cl bottles. It will be available in The Alvinne & Friends bar at the Alvinne Craft Beer Festival, where you will be able to meet my crazy brewerfriend Xavier Serra.
In september 2015 Davy went to Sweden to brew Kongero, a Saison in collaboration with Jackdaw Brewery, located in Upsala. A little less then a year later, on August 20th to be exactly, Fredrik and Janne returned the favour. We didn’t have to think to long about what to brew. It should be sour and it should contain berries. The Jackdaw brewers said they could get their hands on cloudberries, a golden yellow soft and juicy rich of vitamine C berry. When eaten fresh, cloudberries have a distinctive tart taste.
Cloudberries are a delicacy, yet hardly cultivated and primarily harvested in the wild. They grow up North, so even for our friends in Upsala it was still a challenge to get some. Getting them to our brewery was an even greater challenge. They had to freeze 30 kg of cloudberries and carry them in two suitcases.
We brewed Cuvée Sofie and added the fresh wort and some Morpheusyeast straight to two red wine barrels (Languedoc, Chateau La Mazoulières). We also immediatly added the cloudberries (well, first let them catch some warmth) and the cloudberryjuice, 15 kg to each barrel. Fermentation and conditioning straight on barrel, it’s always a bit of a challenge, but 4 months of maturing on French oak barrels delivered a very flavourfull sour.
This beer will be on our Alvinne Craft Beer Festival beerlist to be tasted from draft at The Alvinne & Friends bar. It’s available in 50 cl bottles, don’t hesitate, there are only about 370 bottles around.
Op 2 december wil Brouwerij Alvinne voor minstens 24u letterlijk en figuurlijk de warmste brouwerij van Vlaanderen zijn. We hopen jullie massaal te mogen verwelkomen op onze 24h brouwmarathon ten voordele van Duchenne Parent Project België. We zijn trouwens niet de enige die hun schouders onder dit goede doel steken, ook Olympisch kampioen Greg Van Avermaet springt in de bres voor Duchenne Parent Project België (https://dewarmsteweek.stubru.be/artikels/greg-van-avermaet-in-de-bres-voor-de-warmste-week-van-music-for-life)
Van 6u ‘s morgens op 2 december tot 6u de volgende morgen is de brouwerij doorlopend vrij toegankelijk. Je kan onze brouwers een handje toesteken, of gewoon even langskomen voor een gezellige babbel, een glas bier, een hapje of een streepje muziek.
De opbrengst gaat integraal naar Duchenne Parent Project België. Alle drank en hapjes worden gratis aangeboden door brouwerij Alvinne. We vragen enkel dat je je warme hart laat spreken en een vrije bijdrage geeft naar eigen verbruik en vermogen.
Voor deze unieke gelegenheid hebben we ook enkele T-shirts laten maken, ook hiervan gaat de opbrengst integraal naar het goede doel (25 € voor een T-shirt)
Wie samen met ons de volle 24h helpt brouwen, krijgt nadien nog een uniek T-shirt en wordt uitgenodigd om samen met ons de opbrengst van onze actie naar Boom te brengen tijdens de Warmste Week.
24 hours of brewing … praktische info
Waar? Brouwerij Alvinne, Vaartstraat 4a, 8552 Moen
Wanneer? Vrijdag 2 december (vanaf 6u) tot zaterdag 3 december (6u)
Dorst? Er zijn 5 bieren van ‘t vat verkrijgbaar, voor de BOB is er frisdrank en brouwwater
Honger? ontbijtkoeken tot 10u, verse soep vanaf 11u, taart in de namiddag, croque Alvinne vanaf 18u
Muziek? live optredens van Mörtl (19.30u), The Whole Sh.Bang (21u) en Blame it on the Apes (23u), DJ Knalpot in de late uurtjes
Onze brouwhulpjes voor een dag kunnen deelnemen aan een wedstrijdje moutzakken openmaken.
Vrije bijdrage doneren kan in het vat aan het infostandje van Duchenne Parent Project België
Wie na 24u liever eerst nog enkele uurtjes slaapt voor hij/zij huiswaarts keert, kan dit doen in de brouwerij: breng gewoon luchtmatras en slaapzak mee.
Duchenne Parent Project België
We’ve been asked so many times to go and visit the Great British Beer Festival, but again we can’t make it. We will be in Schotland making a kick ass Quad at 6°North Brewery. However, some of our beers will be available at the “bar sans frontieres”, among them Mano Negra Barrel aged. De Bierlijn who will send the beer to London asked us if we could do something special. Well, we just send the complete barrel. It will be the first time one can have a taste straight from the barrel outside the brewery. I wouldn’t be much of a barrelmanager if I couldn’t give some info about this barrel.
Check it out: barrel 24 mano negra info
On January 1st 2015, we were listed as number 27 in the top rated breweries in Belgium. Today we are listed number 18 with a continious increasing score. We are obvious proud about that, as hard work and hard choices seem to be rewarded by those who drink our beers. Here’s the new top 30 list … Untappd july 2016