In tougher economic times the phrase ‘champagne living on a beer budget’ is frequently used to describe ways to continue living well while tightening the belt a little.
Deus Brut des Flandres from the Brouwerij Bosteels in Belgium undergoes a production process as careful, lengthy and complex as vintage Champagnes costing many times the price.
This Biere de Champagne is brewed in Belgium where it undergoes primary fermentation for a month and then further tank conditioning before being sent to Epernay in the Champagne region of France. Here it is fermented a third time in champagne bottles and cellared for up to a year on the yeast.
From here the bottles follow the method champenoise processes of riddling, remuage and degorgement, through which the bottles are gradually turned and upended before the yeast is extracted and the bottle is corked and capped.
As for taste, we are worlds away from Crown Lager as a celebratory tipple. It is impossible to describe how this beer tastes without borrowing a little from the wine expert’s vocabulary. The aroma is flowery and herbal, with – dare I say it – hints of thyme and allspice. For its strength the alcohol is warming but not over powering.
If you served it to guests and didn’t tell them that they are drinking beer, there are few clues when you serve it. The bottle and label are identical to an expensive Champagne. In the glass the beer is pale with a head – or in more elegant champagne speak, mousse – that lasts longer than for champers, but the bubbles are the same perfect little pearls in the glass.
If you are going to live the beery high life, the first thing you need to do is jettison the six-pack mentality that is often related to beer. This is the notion that a beer is only good if it can be consumed in quantity.
When people first try Deus their reaction is often, “wow, I really like that…but I couldn’t drink a lot of it”.
And nor should you want to, or need to. At an alcohol content of 11.5%, this is not a beer to quaff while watching the cricket. It is one to be sipped and savoured while enjoying great conversation and company, especially on a night of celebration and reflection such as the ringing in of the New Year.
You’ll find it in better bottleshops at around $50 per 750ml bottle. Sure, that’s about the cost of a carton of some beers but it is also exceptionally cheap for a bottle of quality imported bubbles, which it is more akin to.
If you like it, you may want to track down a bottle of Infinium, a champagne-style collaboration brew between Germany’s Weihenstephan and US brewer Sam Adams. Available from the International Beer Shop from late January and costing $35 – $40.
Live large in 2011, even if you are confined to a beer budget.