Another part of our (hopefully) year-long video project, A Year of Beer. looking at the idea of beer and seasonality - how different styles of beer are more appropriate to different seasons, weathers, festivals and so on. There will also be a bit of beer and food matching thrown in because, hell, we love to to eat as much as we love to drink.
This week: Cherry beers and Chocolate for Easter
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Cherry beers and Chocolate for Easter
Two lookalike beers this week, Liefman's Kriek and Van Honsebrouck Bacchus Kriek. Liefman's brewery is in a hiatus at the moment - despite being part of the group backed by Riva, and family-run, it seems that the accountants have temporarily pulled the plug on the producer of one of the best-known cherry beers. After filing for bankruptcy on in december 2007, production of this iconic paper-wrapped beer ceased, and Van Honsebrouck's lookalike beer appeared on shelves as its replacement. I've no idea if this was swift and canny re-branding by Van Honsebrouck, or just a case of being in the right place at the right time, but they have surely benefitted from Liefmans' problems.
Liefman's Kriek is based on a a Flemish brown ale, a complex sweet-and-sharp beer which is also bottled on its own and sold as Liefmans Goudenband (blue paper wrapping). the base beer benefit from a complex culture of yeasts that produced a characteristic sharp, earthy quality to the beer. This base beer is steeped with cherries to produce a kriek, or raspberries to produce a frambozen. It's very good - I'm not wild about fruit beers, but I do like this one. It is slightly sweet, sharp, with a nice earthy complexity to it. In some ways it smells like history; dusty attics, old leather, and a slight whiff of decay, bouyed up with brilliant sharp cherries.
The Van Honsebrouck version is a little more slight - a bit paler, a bit pinker, a bit sweeter. It's fresher and more sherberty compared to Liefman's slightly aged, stately quality. Both are good, but Liefman's just has the edge for me.
Pairing these with dark, high-cocoa chocolate is a match made in heaven. It's one of those food matches that far exceeds the sum of its parts. I asked a food technologist why it was such a good match, and with surprising authority, he said "It's and ionic thing. Left- and right-handed ions binding together. It always works". I'm none the wiser for this explanation, and have to say that there was more than a slght whiff of bullshit about this. But it does also work spectacularly well with any chocolate desert, pie, tart, cake or soufflé. Whatever, write it down; chocolate and cherry beer.