Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A spotlight on DeuS Brut des Flandres, but too late for New Year's Eve.

DeuS Brut des Flandres, which is brewed in Belgium by Bosteels, was the 2003 “Malt Advocate” Import Beer of the Year, and has occupied a well-deserved spot on the Rich O’s beer list since 2004, courtesy of Mat and the guys at Cavalier in Indianapolis.

While not the sort of ale one would seek after mowing the lawn, it provides a rare and elegant dimension to special occasions.

The first "sparkling ale" of this type that I ever tasted was Malheur Biere Brut, which Daisy offered to my 2002 Belgian tour group as part of our special “beer academy” tasting in the back room of ‘t Brugs Beertje in Brugge.

The process and effect are much the same as DeuS, as described in this passage by Artisanal Imports:

DeuS is brewed with the finest summer barley and select hops, but unlike any other Belgian specialty, it undergoes a lengthy, costly maturation in the Champagne region of France. For centuries, the French have used the elegant and labor-intensive “methode Champenoise” as the way to make the best sparkling wines in the world. DeuS receives this treatment, just as the finest Champagne, and the result is remarkable.

Following the initial fermentation, DeuS is shipped to France, where practitioners of “methode Champenoise” follow their strict protocol of bottle turning (“remuage”) and yeast removal (“degorgement”). The entire process takes more than a year, but it’s well worth the wait.

DeuS is clearly not a sparkling wine, nor is it a “beer” in the traditional sense. With flavors of anise, fresh malt, herbal hops and a slightly bready yeast note, it truly combines "The Best of Two Worlds." Serve DeuS ice cold in a narrow flute or champagne goblet for best appearance and flavor.

The Times of London has taken notice, as evidenced by this article from December, 2005, by John Elliott and Steven Swinford: A £32 bottle of beer with your meal madam?

IT LOOKS like champagne and costs just as much. But the latest vintage bubbly coming to Britain’s restaurant tables is a £32 bottle of beer.

Deus, brewed in the Belgian village of Buggenhout, is matured in the Champagne region of France. Its corked bottle is the same shape used for Dom Perignon champagne.

In spite of the obvious shock value of the beer’s price, the writers manage to provide a nicely balanced treatment of the beer and the concept – at least until they seek the opinion of a wine writer on staff:

Joanna Simon, the Sunday Times wine critic, said: “It’s a very good beer. But no matter how it’s dressed up — and, boy, it is dressed up — it’s still only beer.

“The palate is creamy-smooth, fruity and malty-sweet, and the finish is clean with characteristic beer bitterness. But it’s short and that’s the problem. Why pay good money for a taste that disappears in a couple of seconds? I’d rather have half a bottle of good champagne.”

Funny, but I’ve always felt the same way about wine (“it’s short”), especially when trying to find an example of one (any) that would accompany Bavarian pork knuckle and the fixings as well as Doppelbock does, or Thai curry like a ball-buster of an IPA can.

To each his or her own, but I just might withhold service to Ms. Simon if she were to wander mistakenly into my establishment and begin spouting delirious foo-foo like this.

(Thanks to Jay and Bill for pointing the Curmudgeon this way ... photo credit goes to Artisanal)

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