Tuesday, June 19, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Van Twee Cherry Belgian Strong Ale (2009) | Bell's Brewing / De Proef Brouwerij | Kalamazoo, MI / Lochristi, BEL

I will apologize in advance for the blatant themery that will be going on in [AA] this week, and this is because this is the seven-day advent that not only commemorates my wedding anniversary, but also contains the calendar week in which I met this love assassin, as well as the week that I asked her to spend a lifetime of rabble-rousing in breweries and scummy concert venues with me -- all in successive years, of course -- this isn't the 1950s, where all of that was done between coffee break and lunch.

In honor of our alliance as master collaborators in life and love, I present to you [An Avenue]'s Collaboration Week.
-- [AA]

Read Part I.

Part II of IV.

Yesterday, I talked a little bit about one of my favorite breweries, Founder's from Grand Rapids, Michigan, being notably absent from Texas booze shelves due to the algebra involved with being a small craft brewery in the United States.  Today, I'm talking about the same thing, except replacing the words 'Founder's' with 'Bell's' and 'Grand Rapids' with 'Kalamazoo.'  Being able to find one of these spectacular breweries in this state as part of a collaboration made me lighthearted with glee, finding both in the span of one week made me positively tantric.

In the four years that I've been back in Austin, I have absolutely raked the Spec's inventory to the tune of three-to-four visits per week.  I've not scratched the surface of their inventory so much as left a giant key-mark on their stockade.  Most of the time, I'm just in for a quick-six with which to accompany our gastronomy and old records for the evening, but I never get out of there without inspecting their disorganized back stock for treasures -- as well maintaining my ever-evolving personal nook, which has been displaced many times over the years like a squirrel's hackberry stash compromised by grackles.  As a result, some bombers that have captured my full attention, but yet to pull the $20 trigger on, go unseen by the innards of my beer cellar.  Van Twee was one of them.

But this bottle had an interesting journey finding its way 'back (kinda) into' my possession, resurfacing three years from its release date and into my accidental gaze like a desert island fifth with a message of hope and rescue from the grave of the Spec's stacks.  So I did.  I rescued it very much.

Furthermore, there was no way I could maintain the security of this VERY ageable beer from a Bell's-thirsty Michigander Goodwife for three years.  So, the separation, though painful at first, was rewarding at last.  I bought it, and maintained it for only three weeks in storage before we were beside ourselves with anticipation (being a a Bell's-thirsty Texican, myself).

Oh, one final, crucial detail: This beer was made once, was subsequently retired from production, and has no anticipatory plans of ever being reproduced again.  It is very unlikely that many of these still exist anywhere in the world.  This is why poring over the Spec's archives like a bridge hobo was invented.


I can't remember how many times I've said this in this blog -- probably a lot -- but this beer was nothing short of masterful.  Tart cherries and fermented sour cherry juice lead the whole parade down the long boulevard, with mild Belgian chocolate and candy sugar trumpeting to the drumbeats of roasted dark malts and nut brown malts.  The cheeky hops of New Zealand's Nelson Sauvin twirled like the batons of booted cheerleaders, and the wonderful Brettanomyces strains of yeast triumphed over the entire spectacle like the Grand Marshal of Kickassery.

This jam was three years in the making; three years of maturing and growing and waiting to become something perfect.  Sounds like a good allegory for this particular week.

ABV: 7.5%
Acquired: Spec's 

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