Every month, Belgibeer features a different craft brewery, sending freshly brewed beers together with glassware, beers mats, stickers, posters and anything available on site.
This subscription box ships from Europe but DOES ship to the US!
The box arrived very well packed, with each individual bottle bubble-wrapped and in cardboard sleeves to avoid breakage.
This month’s Belgibeer box features the beers of De Halve Maan Brewery. The brewery has been in operation since the 15th century and in the hands of current owners the Maes family since 1856 – that’s 6 six generations! The beers produced by the brewery have changed quite a bit over the centuries, and continue to evolve in more recent years with such brews as the Straffe Hendrik Triple introduced in the ’80s, the Quadruple in 2010 and the Wild in 2014, all of which came in the Belgibeer box.
An interesting tidbit: the famous Halve Maan beer pipeline, the first in the world, is a 3,276 meter pipeline stretching from the brewery to the bottling plant and carrying 4,000 litres of beer every hour. The pipeline was introduced to meet increased demand and production at a cost of around 4 milllion euros, 10% of which was crowdfunded in Belgium.
After the past couple of months of generously packed Belgibeer boxes, January’s box seems a bit, um, sparse in comparison. It includes: 2 bottles each of Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel, Straffe Hendrik Wild, Brugse Zot, Staffe Hendrik Tripel and a copy of the Belgibeer magazine Golden Hops.
This month’s edition of Golden Hops includes information on De Halve Maan Brewery and how to arrange a visit, tasting notes for each of the beers, and directions for a walking tour of Bruges featuring three off-the-beaten track stops.
In 2010, De Halve Maan became the first to brew a quadruple in Belgium. Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel (11% abv) is intensely dark, nearly black, with a fine creamy foam. You can sense the alcohol content in the aroma, which also has a spiciness and roasted quality. The beer has a smooth and luxurious mouthfeel. The tasting notes describe flavours of coriander, dark fruits and roasted chesnuts, which I could sense in the rich and full-bodied taste. At 35 IBU, the bitterness was surprisingly mild and well-balanced, not lingering. I liked the intensity and richness of this beer, perfect for a cold January evening.
Straffe Hendrik Wild (9% abv) is a tripel using wild yeast, hence the name. It is a slightly hazy golden colour with a sturdy foam. The aroma of fruit and flowers is enticing and reminiscent of wine. It has a refreshingly light fruity, slightly sour and hoppy taste. Like the previous beer, despite 35 IBU I found the bitterness on the mild side, though more lasting on the palate. This is a light, drinkable and characterful tripel which I enjoyed immensely.
Brugse Zot (6% abv) is named after a story of Maximilian of Austria calling the citizens of Bruges fools. The beer is a bright golden colour with good clarity and a fine foam. This has a fruity, spicy and almost earthy aroma. Despite having the lowest IBU of all the De Halve Maan beers, only 23, this beer has a pronounced bitterness with hints of citrus. This was my least favourite.
Staffe Hendrik Tripel (9% abv) is the oldest beer from the brewery that it still brewed today. It is a clear golden colour with sturdy white collar. The aroma is spicy with notes of black pepper, coriander, ginger and orange. The flavour has hints of caramel, citrus and banana with moderate bitterness. As the inspiration for the name Straffe Hendrik ‘Strong Henry’ suggests, I do feel that this beer has a more pronounced taste of alcohol than the other beers. It ranks below the Quadrupel and Wild in my order of preference.
My opinion of the Halve Maan Brewery beers was split. I really enjoyed the Quadrupel and the Wild but didn’t care much for the Zot or the Tripel. Still, I will definitely be checking out this brewery for a tour next time I’m lucky enough to visit Bruges.
What’s your favorite this month?