Saturday, March 28, 2015

Belgian Beer History: Peter Bouckaert

I had the pleasure last week of listing to a lecture by Peter Bouckaert, the Brewmaster at New Belgium, on Belgian Beer History. I thought I should write down some of the key points he made before I forgot.

He started by having everyone shout out what their own impression of Belgian Beer was. He got responses like "Trapist", "Sour", "Wild", "High Alcohol", etc. He then pointed out that in reality the majority of the beer made in Belgium is pilsner. In addition he mentioned that ~10% of the market is "beer for kids" and had us taste Avril, a Dupont table beer. A style traditionally made from the last runnings.

Peter went on to talk about the history of beer in Belgium and the surrounding area, all information that you could read about elsewhere. What I want to record are some side notes that he made.

  1. American Malt is too high in protein. This came about because the Macro Brewers need all that protein so that when they cut their wort with corn and rice there is still enough Free Amino Nitrogen (FAN) and enzymes to convert the starch. He mentioned that the protein is too high to make a big beer without needing to add sugar.
  2. 1554 is actually from a 1447 book and by the sounds of it only loosely based on what was found in the book, he even had to decide if it should have hops or not.
  3. Peter's Reinheitsgebot has only 3 ingredients, Experience, Knowledge, and Creativity
  4. American brewers should not use the word Lambic, it takes away for the authenticity of real Lambics.
  5. Keep beers simple, he showed a panel for a trapist brewery with 3 buttons, one for each of the beers that they make. The irony is how complicated the beers are from such a simple process.
He finished by telling us that despite all that he just went over here and now are the best time and place to be a brewer. Made me very proud to be in the Colorado Craft Beer community.

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