Like St. Patrick's Day, Cinco De Mayo and Bastille Day before it, Belgian Independence Day is gaining in popularity with revelers (beer drinkers, in this case) as
an excuse a perfectly legitimate reason to toss back a few pints this week.
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld becoming the first king of the Belgians, having taken the oath on July 21, 1831, nearly a year after the country won its independence from the Nether ... hey! I can hear you snoring. Well, you can research it later.
While Belgium doesn't have shamrocks, sombreros or surrenders to hold up as cultural symbols, the country is the home of some of the greatest breweries in the world. And many of the area's best beer bars are taking note, with special events, beer releases and keg tappings going on this week to mark the occasion.
Read on for descriptions of a few of them as well as Sigel's Belgian beer tasting plus discounts in case you prefer to toast Leopold I in your own home. Plus, my thoughts on the new-to-the-area Duvel Single.
The Libertine Bar is featuring Duvel, DeKoninck and Houblon with a limited supply of take-home logo glasses, and pairing them with a different Belgian small plate each day. Tonight's dish is asparagus gratin. Tomorrow's Thursday Pint Night offers a commemorative Belgian Independence glass.
The Meddlesome Moth has been offering special pairings all week and continues through Saturday. Tonight's special tapping is Duvel Single, aka Duvel Green. Duvel Single is not, as you might suspect, a single-hop variety but rather the classic Duvel that has not been bottle-conditioned and thus has undergone only a single fermentation stage. Its food partner at the Moth is pan-roasted wild salmon. Remaining for the week are Chimay Cinq Cents tomorrow, Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence and Blanche de Bruxelles on Friday and Urthel Hop-It and La Trappe Quad Saturday. See the website's Events tab for food pairings.
Flying Saucer on the Lake is featuring Duvel tonight at 7 for its glassware giveaway, and features Blanche de Bruxelles tomorrow. Not quite falling into Belgian Independence Week but still of interest to Belgian beer fans is next Tuesday's 5 p.m. tapping of La Trappe Quadruple.
The Addison Saucer is also featuring Duvel Single tonight, tapping a keg at 5 p.m. Tomorrow features Chimay and chalice giveaways to the first 60, starting at 7 p.m., and Honey Barbar is the featured brew at 5 p.m. Friday.
The Fort Worth Saucer tonight at 7 features Tripel Karmeliet with a keeper glass. Tomorrow's featured brew is Chimay Cinq Cents and Friday's is La Trappe Quad.
The Common Table is celebrating Belgian Independence Day tomorrow with mussels and frites, Dave Zoller's jazz stylings and some interesting Belgian beers, assuming yesterday's Belgian Brewsday Tuesday didn't wipe out the selection. (Also coming up soon for the Common Table is a $45 Lagunitas beer dinner Monday featuring Lagunitas IPA, Hop Stoopid, Imperial Stout, Gnarleywine and Sumpin Wild. Leftovers will be featured on the 26th for that Brewsday Tuesday.)
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And Sigel's-Greenville is offering a tasting from 5 to 7 p.m. today with Prescott Carter, brewery rep for Duvel Moortgat. RSVP here. The store is also offering some pretty impressive discounts of $4 to $6 off four-packs and 25-ounce bottles, meaning you could pick up a four-pack of Chouffe Houblon for $9.99 (reg. $13.99), Delerium Tremens four-packs at $17.99 apiece (reg. $23.99) or a bottle of Chimay Grand Reserve for $10.99 (reg. $15.49).
I stopped by The Common Table on the way home from work yesterday for a Belgian Flight of five samples (regularly $15, but $3 off during the Tuesday special): Duvel Single, Ommegang BPA, Hennepin Saison, Houblon Choeffe and Liefmans Goudenband. Being a big fan of Duvel (such a big fan that my latest homebrew batch was an attempt at a Duvel clone), I wavered between just getting a full pint of Duvel Single and trying it in a flight. Curious about some of the other offerings, I opted for the latter -- and am glad I did. At 6.7 percent ABV compared to Duvel's 8.5 percent, Duvel Single is definitely a better session beer. It's lighter in general, crisp and slightly sour with a much lighter carbonation without the classic Duvel's enormous white cloud of head. The sample glass was good, but in my opinion it showed just how important the bottle-conditioning is to Duvel's rich, complex flavor.
The creamy, light, slightly sweet Houblon Chouffe, with a perfect balance of crisp hops, tangy and spicy yeast and malt body, proved to be my favorite of the flight. Ommegang BPA was a close second, crisp and light with some fruit character, and would make a great sipping beer on the patio at sunset. The Liefmans, a sour brown, was a deep reddish brown and indeed quite tart. I'm not usually a fan of sours but this got me interested to explore the style some more. And I love Hennepin Saison, but I wanted to try something unfamiliar in its place, so I asked the bartender to sub Brooklyn Concoction. Concoction is made with honey, ginger and peat-smoked malt, as it is based on the scotch cocktail called the penicillin. The medicinal moniker is fitting: If you've ever thought a few spritzes of Cloraseptic throat spray would really improve a scotch, you'd dig this beer.