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.
February’s Belgibeer box features the beers of De Ranke Brewery. Created by Nino Bacelle and Guido Devos, the brewery is named for the stem of the hop flower (rank in Dutch), because all their beers are brewed with whole hops flowers for a unique taste in the tradition of bitter beers in Belgium.
De Ranke has unique boiling tanks inspired by ancient brewing techniques. Full hop flowers are added to the wort in the boiling tank to produce a balanced hoppy flavour, allow for natural filtration of the wort and a clear wort with no oxidization.
The brewery also has a strong environmental ethos, striving to reduce its footprint through the use of solar energy to heat water for the brewing process, using recycled packaging and biodegradable products.
Just like January’s box, February’s box doesn’t include any little extras. It includes: 2 bottles each of Simplex, Guldenberg, XX Bitter, Noir de Dottignies, and a copy of the Belgibeer magazine Golden Hops.
This month’s issue of Golden Hops includes lots of info about the origins and brewing methods of De Ranke, a recommendation for the Gaston Vouzoute restaurant located near the brewery, a recipe for Sabayon à la Noir de Dottignies, tips for visiting the brewery and surrounding area, and of course tasting notes for each of the four beers.
The tagline for Simplex (4.5% abv) is ‘this is not a Pils’. The beer is straw blond with a thin white foam and hazy appearance. It has a sweet and wine-like aroma of fruit and flowers. The mouthfeel is light and the flavour has a pronounced bitterness at the start and finish. I didn’t care for this much, it was just too bitter for my taste.
Guldenberg (8% abv) is the first beer of the brewery, named after the old Guldenberg Abbey in Wevelgem, the birthplace of Nino Bacelle. The beer is golden with fair clarity. It has a strong aroma of hops due to dry-hopping with Hallertau Mittelfruh. This Abbey beer has a balanced sweetness and bitterness.
XX Bitter (6% abv) is, not surprisingly, the most bitter beer in the range, developed by Guido Devos. It is a clear, light golden blond with a hoppy aroma and strong bitter taste, although with 60-65 IBU, I expected more bitterness. I found the flavour to be one note and this was my least favourite of the beers.
Noir de Dottignies (8.5% abv) is brewed with 7 different malts, including some roasted. The beer is dark brown and very hazy, with a subtle aroma with hints of chocolate and roasted notes. The beer has a bold flavour of roasted malts with a pleasant bitterness that doesn’t linger. This is an ideal beer for serving with rich desserts.
De Ranke’s beers are best-suited for those who appreciate a true bitter Belgian beer. I found the beers a bit overwhelming, but enjoyed the complexity and more mellow bitterness of the Noir De Dottignies.
What’s your favorite this month?