Tag Archives: Beers of Europe

138. Caracole Troublette

Here’s a beer that’s been sat around the house, and indeed somewhat neglected for a while since it arrived in a case from Beers of Europe a year or so ago.

Whilst I’m not typically a great fan of the Belgian-style Wheat Beers, I’ll keep an open mind. I have tried one Caracole beer, their Ambrée, at Poechenellekelder in Brussels, and it was very good indeed.

Let’s give this one a chance.

Caracole Troublette

There’s that slightly murky golden colour so typical of the style, though it’s a little less cloudy than some, despite a reasonably hard pour to make sure any yeast gets in there, which appears to be the done thing.

It smells distinctly Belgian: when it comes to beer, Belgium is all about the yeast, and as expected it’s prominent here.

To my surprise, I actually rather like this one. It’s light but not as watery as the Blanche de Namur. If anything, it’s a little more like a standard Belgian blonde than any wheat beer I can remember.

There’s an interesting citrus tang in there, and I wonder if Troublette contains a hint of orange peel, which is a common addition to this style of beer. There’s a subtle but pleasing peppery hop bitterness which is a rarity for a Belgian beer, but welcome all the same.

Served chilled, this would be a thoroughly refreshing summer beer. I can well imagine myself sipping one on the terrace outside Poechenellekelder while watching the tourists go by.

You know, that gives me an idea. Stay tuned…

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Caracole, Falmignoul, Belgium
Style: Belgian-style Wheat Beers
Strength: 5.5% ABV
Found at: Beers of Europe
Serving: 330ml bottle

132. Lion Stout

It’s not every day that one finds oneself drinking a Sri Lankan beer, so this could be interesting. In some ways I’m surprised to learn that any beer at all is brewed in Sri Lanka, let alone a thumping great stout.

It turns out that there are at least three breweries there, with Lion Brewery, formerly the Ceylon Brewing Company, tracing their history back to 1860.

This one came in an exciting case from Beers of Europe quite some time ago, and according to the label it is best consumed before, well, tomorrow. I’m not particularly worried since a 7.5% ABV stout should age quite happily, but it’s a good excuse to crack it open.

Lion Stout

On doing so there’s a big bitter chocolate and coffee aroma that’s instantly reminiscent of the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Apparently I liked that one, so no complaints there. Lion do actually brew Guinness under licence, so I wonder if that’s entirely a coincidence.

Lion Stout pours thick and black like a proper stout should. There’s a pleasingly thick coffee-coloured head that dissipates fairly quickly.

To taste, there’s an immediate, full-on and tangy berry-like sharpness. It’s full of fruity notes that oddly are not dissimilar to something like the sour cherry flavours in a Begian Kriek, such as the Cantillon Kriek.

It’s full of coffee and chocolate notes too, and a touch of sweetness not unlike a milk stout, though I’m sure there’s no lactose goes anywhere near it. A big hoppy bitterness suggests this one would develop in the bottle for a good while yet.

This is a decent little bottle of stout. It’s a proper winter beer though, so I’m not sure how well it goes down in Sri Lanka’s tropical climate. Still, they seem to like it. I rather like it too and I’ve glad I’ve had the chance to try something quite so exotic.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Lion Brewery (Ceylon), Biyagama, Sri Lanka
Style: Porters and Stouts
Strength: 7.5% ABV
Found at: Beers of Europe
Serving: 330ml bottle

125. Duckstein Original

The last Alt beer that we came across—Diebels Alt—turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. I think that’s still the only example of this venerable German beer style that I’ve actually tried, so this one should be interesting.

Duckstein Original Cap Detail

Whilst Alt beers are more typically associated with the Düsseldorf area, Duckstein Original hails from Hamburg. Well, in truth this bottle comes from the internet, and I’ll admit I know almost entirely nothing more about the brewery. We’d better crack on and drink it.

Duckstein Original

There’s that warm chestnut colour again, and a smallish tan head. The aroma is dark and fruity, and unexpectedly reminiscent of a Belgian-style Trappist Dubbel such as La Trappe Dubbel.

That comes across in the flavour too. It’s lower in ABV though at 4.9%, and so a great deal more gluggable than a Dubbel, and very refreshing. It’s a great winter beer all the same, with that fruity warmth from the malts and slightly spicy notes from the subtle hops. There’s added complexity from the beer being matured over beechwood chips.

A very nice beer, all in all, and again it strikes me that it’s a real shame that you very rarely find this style of beer on tap in the UK. I think people would like it.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Duckstein, Hamburg, Germany
Style: Alt and Amber Beers
Strength: 4.9% ABV
Found at: Beers of Europe
Serving: 500ml bottle

113. Castelain Ch’ti Blonde

This is the second Bière de Garde to be covered here, after that rather pleasant St. Sylvestre 3 Monts we enjoyed in Essex a couple of months ago.

As I’m sure I mentioned back then, Bières de Garde are basically synonymous with the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. They were originally brewed on farms during winter and spring, and then kept—hence the name—somewhere cool, in order to keep the farm’s workers, and no doubt owners, well lubricated through the summer and autumn.

Castelain Ch’ti Blonde is a little more sessionable than the 3 Monts at a mere 6.4% ABV, and comes in a small enough bottle that I’ll probably manage it all myself this time. The name apparently is Picardy dialect for “c’est toi”, meaning “it suits you”. It certainly suits me to pull this one from the fridge and crack it open.

Castelain Ch'ti Blonde

Poured from its 330ml bottle, Ch’ti Blonde is a lovely, glistening copper colour with a big, foaming white head that seems to fade quickly.

I’ve noticed that happen with many bottled beers, and recently read that it may be to do with pouring them in the kitchen where the air is likely to contain microscopic oil particles from cooking. It’s an interesting theory, and one I’d be fascinated to hear people’s views on.

There isn’t a huge aroma beyond a malty Rich Tea biscuit sweetness and some general lagery notes. The initial taste is faintly sweet too, but it’s balanced out by a full malty body and a big, long dry finish. There’s a slight golden syrup note that’s a little reminiscent of a Belgian Ambrée such as Bush, or perhaps a lighter version of the famous Pauwel Kwak.

As with the 3 Monts, this isn’t a beer that shouts, but it’s hopelessly easy to drink, and this one went down quickly enough that I had a job on my hands just getting a respectable number of tasting notes written down.

Bières de Garde do seem to pair particularly well with food, and Ch’ti Blonde again is robust enough to stand up to strong spices, while being subtle enough not to upstage lighter flavours. I didn’t have this one with food, of course. I had it while sat at a laptop typing a blog post about how well it would go with food, but I think my point stands.

Good stuff, all in all, and particularly welcome straight from the fridge after a long, sweltering week at work in London.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Castelain, Benifontaine, France
Style: Bières de Garde
Strength: 6.4% ABV
Found at: Beers of Europe
Serving: 330ml bottle

94. Diebels Alt

This bottle of Diebels Alt is the second beer from that Beers of Europe case I mentioned when we met Švyturys Ekstra. It’s also the first beer to be covered here from the Alt and Amber Beers chapter of The Book.

Diebel Alt - cap

Which is terribly exciting, not least because I don’t really know a great deal about the style at all. I know that Alt is a German style, and a little light reading tells me that it’s predominantly brewed in and around Düsseldorf, just as this one is.

Interestingly, it turns out that the Alt style predates the widespread proliferation of lager in Germany. That’s intriguing, because one tends to associate Germany strongly and almost exclusively with lagers such as Kölsch, perhaps with a few strange wheat beers thrown in for variety.

Which has me wondering what we’re in for. We’d better give this a try, then.

Diebels Alt

Diebels Alt immediately surprises me by coming out of the bottle remarkably dark. Held up to the light, it’s a really deep copper colour with a creamy white head.

In fact, it looks more like an English bitter than anything I had expected from Germany. Perhaps I shouldn’t have chilled this one overnight.

The beer smells deep and malty, a little like an ESB, but with a faint hoppy aroma that becomes distinctly peppery when you get your nose right in there.

And it tastes pretty blooming good, to be fair, especially after a long day at work. It’s dark and slightly sinister, with those peppery flavours coming through strongly and complementing the plentiful rich dried fruit notes. There’s a tiny hint of orange too, again reminding me of an ESB, in particular Fuller’s.

There’s a big old bitter finish, and a very modest degree of fizz, so despite being full of flavour, Diebels Alt is hopelessly easy-drinking. You never seem to see beers like this on tap in the UK, but it could be a great session pint, particularly served from a keg.

Well I never. That was all a bit of a pleasant surprise, and I wouldn’t mind another just now. Still, there was another Alt in that case, so I imagine we’ll be seeing that one in these pages before long.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brauerei Diebels, Issum, Germany
Style: Alt and Amber Beers
Strength: 4.9% ABV
Found at: Beers of Europe
Serving: 500ml bottle

92. Švyturys Ekstra

This particular beer achieves several firsts for Threehundredbeers. For a start, it’s the first beer to be tackled from the Dortmunder Export chapter of The Book, and it’s also certainly the first Lithuanian beer I’ve ever tried.

Finally, this is the first bottle from an interesting case of beers ordered from Beers of Europe. We’ll be seeing a few more from that batch before long, and there are a couple of intriguing ones in there, so do stay tuned.

Let’s start with Švyturys Ekstra, a rather handsomely presented Lithuanian lager.

Švyturys Ekstra - lid

Dortmunder Export-style lagers originated in Germany, and tend to be made with darker malts than, say, Pilsners, while being slightly higher in alcohol. Not all of the sugar is fermented off, potentially making for a slightly sweeter-tasting end result.

Švyturys Ekstra seems, then, to be surprisingly pale in colour, being a very light straw colour with a frothy but quite thin white head. It tastes like a fairly standard lager, though it’s slightly fuller-bodied and smoother than expected. There is a sweetness there, but it’s thankfully more of a malty than a sugary one.

Švyturys Ekstra

I chilled this one, but as it warms a lot more flavour comes out, including some citrus notes, and a surprisingly big, bitter hoppy finish.

This isn’t a bad beer by any means, and it’s kind of refreshing and easy-drinking, but it’s not an easy one to get excited about. If you like lager you’ll certainly like it a lot, and if you don’t, then Švyturys Ekstra probably won’t change your mind.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: UAB „Švyturys – Utenos alus“, Klaipėda, Lithuania
Style: Dortmunder Export
Strength: 5.2% ABV
Found at: Beers of Europe
Serving: 500ml bottle