Our pick of Ales Tales Festival
17 July 2017, By Jonny Garrett
This weekend is the inaugural Ales Tales – a London-based beer festival dedicated to great Belgian microbreweries. The orangisers have worked hard to get together some of Belgium’s finest new and small brewers, and we worked with them to get all the beers in.
There are some 20 breweries attending, each bringing up to four beers for each session, so given that very few of these beers have made it to the UK before, that’s a lot of sampling that needs to be done! We thought we’d help you guys out (or tempt those without tickets) by giving our tips for the festival so you know where to head and don’t stand there like a lemon with a virgin glass in your hand.
To see the full brewery list or get tickets, head over to alestales.co.uk – you can go for the all-in ticket at £40 with free beer throughout the session or £9 on the door with tokens.
Glazen Toren Ondineke (8.5% Tripel)
A truly delicious tripel, with that classic banana, apricot and raisin-bread aroma, a smooth, fine-bubble mouthfeel. The bitterness is wickedly smooth, like in De Ranke beers, leaving the creamy sweetness of the beer to linger.
Hoften Dormaal Wit Goud (8% strong blond)
Translating as White Gold, this beer is an absurdly drinkable strong ale with lots of dry, spicy aroma countering the sweeter yeast esters. The sinkability is down to the hint of tartness that develops on the tongue, lightening the beer and cutting through the slight caramelised orange malt flavours. Very complex but very moreish too.
De La Senne Taras Boulba (4.5% pale ale)
Anywhere else in the world, a pale ale wouldn’t cause a stir. But in Belgium it does, especially one this hop forward. It’s loaded with delicious spicy, soft grasy hop notes balanced by some mild stone fruit from the yeast and light bready malt. The body is surprisingly creamy, smooth and rich, cut in two by a big whack of Belgian-hop bitterness that reminds you this beer is reaction against the traditional, sweeter style of traditional Belgian brewing. To them it’s bold an unusual, to us it’s one of the best session beers in the world.
Monsieur Rock (6.6%)
I can make you want a beer in one sentence – the brewer behind Monsieur Rock was once the head brewer at Orval. With me? Great. This super pale Belgian blond is like Champagne – soft and dry, but with pronounced hop aroma from the dry hopping and a crisp, estery finish.
Solvay Society Tritium (7.7%)
“Another tripel!?” I hear you cry with disdain, but this is different. Not only are Solvay Society the only English brewery invited to this Belgian beer event, they make their tripel with pink peppercorns and rye malt to add spice to the soft banana and green apple esters, and bready malt. It’s a beautiful beer.