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To Quench and to Savor
Doing the Continentals

Posted: September 3, 2009

By Chad Wulff

Eariler this year BTI’s World Beer Championships held their annual tasting of Continental European Ale styles.  Maibocks were also included as they are in season this time of year.  A few tasty sessions of an eclectic assortment of brews turned out some excellent results.  Thanks again to all of the participating breweries and to our panel of judges.

Let’s start off with the Kolsch entries.  A great beer to introduce to your industrial lager-consuming friends as it is quite approachable.  Also, a great way to reward your self after the yard work is complete.  A unique beer that is top fermented and then lagered.  The result is a clean refreshing ale with a slightly bitter finish, but not as much as say a German pils.  One good Kolsch deserves another, but if you need to pair it with something a bit more substantial, try mild cheeses.  A little cured meat wouldn’t hurt here either.  A few notable entries included Goose Island Brewing Co.’s Summertime (92 points), Alltech Lexington Brewing Kentucky Light (85 points), and at the tie of (84 points), Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. Victor’s Gold and Roy-Pitz Brewing Co. Best Blonde.  Excellent session ales to keep on your radar.


We don’t really have much of a spring here in Chicago, but a great indicator to the locals that good weather is around the corner is the availability of a quality Maibock on draft at one of our great beer bars.  I love the malt character and strength of a solid Maibock.  I grill roasted a pork loin stuffed with apples and onions and it paired nicely with both the Full Sail Brewing Co. LTD 02 and the Hofbräuhaus München Maibock (92 points).  As quenching as they are, just remember to watch your intake with these heavy hitters, with an ABV at around 7%, you could be “spinnin’ round the May Pole “ a little quicker than planned.

Being outdoors is something I crave during the winter months.  Come January, the cabin fever sets in and thoughts of picnics, riding the bicycle, and relaxing on the patio with a hot grill, good book, and frothy beverage are steaming through my brain.  So when the weather finally breaks and life is good, treat yourself to an afternoon outside with a bottle of Saison.  If there was ever a beer to consume in the beauty of nature, Saison is it!  Just think of the aromatics and lively nature of this style combined with a relaxing picnic under a tree.  Bring along a basket full of cheese, crusty bread, and fresh fruit and the experience can’t be beat.  Two notable entries this time around included Goose Island Brewing Co. 2009 Sofie (94 points) and Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. Fille De Fermier (88 points).  Take the time to find yourself a nice Saison and I’ll see you in the park.

Our Belgian Specialty category is more or less a catch all for those that don’t necessarily fit the strong ale or abbey style category and this time around the entries were a real treat.  The Belgian Style Red Ale category also gave us a great example of what brewers are doing with wild yeasts these days.  Let me suggest you get your guests juices flowing with a Grumpy Troll Brewery Flanders Ned Ale (93 points).  A great aperitif that will get the conversation flowing.  Move onto The Brooklyn Brewery Local 2 (91 points) and serve up some grilled flank steak with a side of chimichurri.  This combination will make your people happy and you’ll be praised for your hospitality!  Finish your soirée with a Unibroue Anniversary 17 and be sure to pair it with something decadent such as crème brulee or maybe those artisanal truffles you’ve been holding onto.  A mild cigar with this brew wouldn’t hurt either. 

Be sure to check all of the results in the links below to discover even more excellent ales that are sure to inspire whether they are a simple quaff to quench or a decadent sipper to savor.  Cheers!

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