From the HBD Archive
From: Phillip Seitz <>
Subject: Belle Vue Kriek LA
Date: 1992-07-17 01:14:00 GMT

I live in the Washington, D.C. area, where the weather is beastly hot at
the moment, and often sickeningly humid. I'm also a passionate Belgian
beer fan, but even a dose of air conditioning is not enough to get me in
the right frame of mind to tackle one of the beers in the fridge, most
of which weigh in at at least 8% alchohol.
Recently a group of Belgian friends blew through town, and brought
me a CARE package of beers and chocolate. Among these was a Belle Vue
Kriek LA. Kriek means cherry beer, and LA means low alchohol. The beer
is 1.5% by volume, ranking it in the Belgian category III, for table beers.
At first look it seemed to me that this was just the kind of beers
that would be dreamed up by the boys down the hall in marketing--the next
great thing after dry beer! (More filling, less taste!) This doubt
was not assuaged by the fact that Belle Vue is owned by that slimy Belgian
octopus, Interbrew.
In fact, it was surprising how not bad it was. Rich red cherry
color, but not fluorescent. Excellent head. A slightly sweet taste
(a Belle Vue trademark). Not terribly complex, but very pleasant. What
was lacking was a bit of tartness, which I overcame by the oral application
of some dark chocolate esters (and a very good match it was).
So, the boys in marketing win one. The stuff was pleasant to
drink, left no fog on the brain, and--HOLY COW--had taste! What a concept!
This has been the universal problem with all the low-alchohol beers I've
ever run into, and has indirectly sharpened my interest in gin (why drink
beer when all that's available is Sharps and Coors?).
In fact, I'd even be willing to buy the stuff again, if it didn't
come from t\ose Interbrew slime-balls. But the issue is this--why not
add some flavor? Why not have low alchohol beer, when it can be satisfying?
As advocates of responsible drinking, I think this is the sort of thing
we could definitely use more of.

On a vaguely related topic, I mentioned to our Belgian visitors my interest
in Pierre Rajotte's new book on Belgian brewing, and the difficulty of
getting candy sugar for brewing. Rajotte states that it's available from
brewery suppliers in 50 pound bags. I mean, I'm ambitious enough, but that's
a lot of sugar to schlep around. Anyway, our guests said that the stuff is
available almost everywhere--supermarkets, etc.--in both the light and
dark varieties. I'm trying to get some via our next courier (end of Aug.),
and will post any news on this front.

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