Breweries "Visited"

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Owl, The Arms Race, The Way We Move

Day #607 Steenuilke / Brouwerij De Ryck, Herzele, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: Arend Tripel

Here in America, craft beer is an arms race.  Every brewery tries to outdo the rest of the industry by adding more hops than realistically needed, or by mashing together crazy ingredients just because they need to be different to stand out in a crowd.  Call me crazy, but beer made with gun powder, dandelions, Milk Duds, and hearts of palm just isn't what I need.  I need good beer, well crafted with solid flavors that stand out because they're delicious, not because they're weird.  Anyone out there remember the scene in Superman 3, where Richard Pryor is trying to reverse engineer homemade Kryptonite, but can't figure out the missing ingredients?  Inspired by his cigarette pack, he inserts tar, and it turns out that his Kyrptonite just turns Superman into a prick rather than killing his powers.  I feel American craft beers is sort of like that, adding tar because they can't figure out what that missing ingredient is sometimes.

At Brouwerij De Ryck, they've managed to craft a new beer that combines unexpected ingredients without going off the deep end.  Specifically, the Steenuilke, a pale ale that takes its name from a local bird, the Stone Owl.  This beer pours with a clear gold color and a fluffy, puffy white head.  There's a good flavor of light hops; not hoppy by U.S. standards, but by far the hoppiest beer in the De Ryck lineup.  There's a wonderful and unexpected herbal spice to this beer, and it has a fresh, green flavor.  Perhaps not the greatest beer I had while in Belgium, but without a doubt this beer was the most unexpected and unusual I found along the way.  Well done, De Ryck!

In case you were wondering, that unusual spice and earthy quality comes from local herbs: sweet woodruff, angelica and blackthorn.  Much, much better than gun powder.  Or tar.  Trust me.  De Ryck has recently started shipping their beers to America, and I sincerely hope that Steenuilke is part of that distribution.
I see you, Owl. I see you....
And, if you still need further proof that beer people are good people, this beer was brewed in a partnership with a nature conservancy to increase awareness and raise funds for the preservation of this bird.  Beer people?  We solve problems, yo.

Thing to Think About Today:
The song currently stuck in my head, and hopefully stuck in yours very shortly, comes from Langhorne Slim & The Law - their hit summer song The Way We Move.  I defy you to play this one and not roll down the windows while driving at least 10mph faster.  Plus, he's actually from Langhorne, PA!  We're practically neighbors not really but it's still fun.

"In my bed I can't sleep
All my friends have crooked tales
And that's the way I like it / that's just what I need."

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