Today we don’t talk about cocktails, but we do talk about blends. Beer blends to be more specific. We were not familiar with beer blends at all, so we were quite excited to taste one and this one is very unusual because it mixes two very different styles of beers together, the Triple and the famous Gueuze. The blend is made by Dilewyns Brewery in a very small village called Dendermonde, not very far from the glorious city of Aalst.
Back in the good old days, water was lethal! And you had to boil it down to be of any use whatsoever, mostly cooking. So fairly quickly when mankind culminated into sedentary lifestyles and created villages and cities they had to invent constant food supplies. Basically: bread and beer. Every bakery since the dawn of civilisation also became a micro brewery. This all happened as far back as 4000 BC in hipster Ancient Sumer where the profession of brewer was uniquely reserved for women. The moment mankind invented script, they wrote down the sacred recipe for beer, known as the ‘Hymn to Ninkasi‘, goddess of brewing. Beer was consumed on a daily basis and taken quite seriously, sacred almost. In fact, many religious myths of Ancient Sumer mention beer and its healthy and nutritious aspects, as well as the funny side effects. Consider the epic of Gilgamesh or the story of how the goddess Inanna tricked Enki into giving her all the wisdom and power by getting him drunk. Also beer was given as a payment to the labourers, you know, the people who build the Ziggurat of Uruk, the Temple of Marduk, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Gates of Ishtar, … All this in stark contrast to the building where I am writing this right now, which was clearly built by labourers who weren’t paid enough and definitely not in beer. The craft of brewing spread quickly to other civilisations, like Ancient Egypt for example, where the labourers also got paid in beer (sometimes 8 litres per day!) and the Egyptians created pyramids, sfinxes, temples of Karnak and Abu Simpel, … Mummification surely must have been invented after a particularly hard day of labouring. On the other hand, civilisation of today considers you incapable of driving a car after consuming no more than half a pint of pyramid fuel.
Eventually, due to the monks and the art of writing, the noble craft of brewing arrived in Belgium. In the middle ages we had an unusually large amount of monks per square kilometre that’s basically why Belgium has a gazzilion different beers (that’s not entirely true, but I have to cut a long story short).
Back to the Dilewyns family, consisting of Vincent Dilewyn and his four daughters (4! My God, I only have 2 and I need at least half of an Egyptian labourer’s salary to get me through the week! 😉 ). The family actually started brewing in the 19th century, but had to give it all up during WWII and it’s in 1999 that Vincent brewed his first beer as a hobby.
He called it Vicaris, after the first two lettres of his own name (Vi) and a reference to his old profession, being a dentist (‘cariës’ or tooth decay!). I am not making this up, but of course, there’s also the strong reference to “the vicar”, which makes the beer sound like an abbey beer or trappist. By 2010 he had bought a building and put a brewery inside of it. By now they produce no less than 5 different Vicaris beers: a Triple (8,5°), the Vicaris Generaal (8,5°), a rich brown beer made with three different malts, the Vicaris Triple/Gueuze which is the blend I will speak about very soon, the Vicaris Winter (10°) and the Quinto (5°). Each and every one of these beers, you have to believe me, is fantastic! Their taste is sublime, you can really feel that it’s a product made with passion and skill. You know, we are now in this period were everybody starts to brew his own beer, but most of these are bland, nondescript and put very frankly, they taste like sh*t. Not Vicaris though, you can clearly taste that this took time and trial, because the end product is near perfection. So whenever you got the chance, have a Vicar!
Now about the Triple/Gueuze blend. I am not going to explain to you what Gueuze or Geuze beer is. If you don’t know what it is, Google it or just assume it is a sour beer with a very typical taste which can only be made in a small region in Belgium, because it uses local yeasts. In my opinion Trappist is the king of beers and Geuze is the queen and Dilewyns had the bright idea to marry the queen to a Vicar, the Triple, to be specific. And like most brilliant ideas, this one originated completely by accident. Apparently, one summer day, Vincent was in good company and drinking a Gueuze. Now, before he even got the chance to completely finish his Gueuze, somebody in the company had ordered second rounds and Vincent being very happy about this ordered his own Triple and didn’t bother to take a new glass. So, without hesitation, he vigilantly poured the Vicar Triple into the remains of the Gueuze and behold, a new beer was born!
The result, to me, is fantastic! It’s fruity, soury, but you still taste the grain and the sour almost tastes like sour apple. So the Gueuze is quite present, but it’s thicker, rounder. It’s bold and refreshing. First you taste the rich Triple and then the Gueuze comes bursting through and lingers long after. It actually tingles on the tongue. An exceptional and unique blend of two beautiful beers, an experience you must have tried if you really love beer. Well done!