December 16, 2013

Snowy Jerusalem, strong beer -- epilogue

Shabbat (December 14) in Jerusalem was cold and snowy. People are calling it the worst storm in Israel in 150 years! Nothing moved. Walking along the icy streets was dangerous. Certain neighborhoods spent the day, and beyond, without electricity.

Fortunately, we had light and heat -- and a delicious lunch. Trudy made a winter-vegetable shepherd's pie which was scrumptious and just right for the stormy day. It was complemented by a 75 centiliter (25 1/2 ounce) bottle of Kasteel Cuvee du Chateau 2012, a strong Belgian ale, 11% alcohol by volume, and brewed only since 2010 by the famous Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck in West Flanders, Belgium. 

Since this is not a beer to be quaffed ice-cold (especially on this kind of a day), I took it out of the refigerator a half-hour before we ate. This is a beer that not only has a printed vintage, but you open it like a bottle of champagne, with a wire net and a pop cork. That only added to the festivities.

Cuvee du Chateau pours out the darkest of browns and has a rich, creamy head like an egg cream (for those of you who remember such things). The taste is heavily roasted malt, that fills your mouth with flavor, leaving just a little room for the bitterness of the (British) hops.

Cuvee du Chateau can be classified as an English-style "barley wine," which simply refers to a dark and strong ale, not very hoppy, which has the same alcoholic content as wine, that is, 8% - 12% by volume. Barley wines are often sold with a vintage, as is Cuvee du Chateau, and may even be aged like fine wines.

I'm not one to tell you about the "nose" and the "finish" and the "hints" of blackberry or wet grass or kiwi or whatever. I'll leave that to the many beer rating and tasting sites. These make sense when you're tasting beer by itself, with nothing else in your mouth. But Cuvee du Chateau is a great beer whose taste and alcohol strength are perfect when part of a flavorful winter meal. One-on-one, I may prefer the hoppier, bitterer pale ales and IPAs, but Cuvee du Chateau is meant for food and should not be separated from what it adds to a meal.

Trudy, not a great beer drinker, didn't want her own glass, but couldn't resist reaching over and taking sips from mine.

All in all, it was a lovely and delicious Shabbat lunch, and I'm pleased to share it vicariously with all of you. Since my web log is primarily concerned with Israeli boutique beers, I will continue my search for the Israeli beers which can accompany a winter meal as perfectly as Cuvee du Chateau.

1 comment:

  1. drop me a line and ill hook you up with something Israeli that may match up and accompany your next stormy meal.


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