I was invited to go to Sygn for a Heverlee beer Christmas event, and often with this kind of invitation I never really know what to expect.
We were sat down in Sygn’s private dining room, a room I have never been in but continually walk past on the way home from work. It usually has steamy windows and the going’s on of something fun, and now I was on the other side of those windows.
A lovely room with a grand table laden with gifts from Heverlee for all of the attending guests and on one wall it read ‘Night the better half of life’, and we all agreed, this was a fantastic quote.
We were introduced to Joris Brams the brewer behind Heverlee and he took us on a journey through his favourite Belgian beers to then end on the grand finale of Heverlee itself. Joris was a very interesting man with great stories of how Heverlee came to be.
Let’s have a gander at Joris’s choice of beers then shall we?
Starting off with Orval a tear shaped bottle with a label design that rivalled the Great Gatsby theme. Orval is a Trappist beer, which I found out from Joris means it is brewed by Trappist monks and it must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery.
The sell by date was in 2021, and Joris pointed out that some people buy it and leave it for a year or two as they like it better when it has had time to mature.
Next up was the Tongerlo Christmas, Joris mentioned that you must always drink a beer in the glass it was designed for it. I couldn’t agree more. It just so happened he only had one glass and I swiftly took that for myself and it tasted lovely (sorry everyone else attending). I loved the bottle of this one a mix of green and golds, Christmas without the tackiness.
This is only available during winter (duh…Christmas beer) , and as Joris put it himself, you wouldn’t drink a Christmas beer in Easter so don’t go holding on to these bottles as they are not made for lasting over time.
We then moved on to Duvel which Joris informed us was actually OUR beer as the founder’s son, Albert, only wanted to use the best ingredients. After the Second World War he nicked some yeast from Scotland to use in his brewing. The exact same strain is used in Duvel beer to this day, that’s a wee general knowledge fact for ya!
Now Duvel is enjoyed in over 60 countries across the world and Joris told us that brewers in America use Duvel as an example of how to create a good beer.
Now on to the grand finale – Heverlee.
Heverlee is inspired by the beers first brewed by the monks in medieval times. Joris who is Heverlee’s brewer made sure his recipe was similar to that of the monks, and certainly did his research. He has created a light, easy to drink beer that was delicious.
The reason why he brought other Belgian beers for us to taste is because they are all very close, he said the technical part has made them all colleagues and friends as he studied with many of the other brewers, but when it comes to the commercial stuff they just don’t talk about it.
Joris has brought Heverlee to Scotland because when he was here he couldn’t find a good tasting Belgian beer. He said he will only stock great pubs that know their beer.
Although this was a Heverlee event, I have to say it was my favourite out of the lot. In order of deliciousness: Heverlee, Tongerlo, Duvel and Orval.
I liked the Orval bottle the most, it was very aesthetically pleasing.
Sygn also treated us to some festive nibbles. We started off with: haggis bon bon’s, halloumi bites, chicken wings, chicken goujons and battered shrimp. The sauces alongside were: BBQ, hot sauce and I think relish.
In order of favourite: haggis, shrimp, goujons, wings, and haloumi.
The haggis was delicious and full of flavour, the shrimp was fantastic with a kind of tempura batter. The goujons were okay and the wings batter tasted slightly burnt. The haloumi for me didn’t have much flavour.
We were then given an extravagant festive turkey burger, with battered turkey, bacon, cheese, and cranberries. This was delicious, I am not a turkey person, but this one was moist and delicious, Christmas in a bun.
Then we were given a kind of chocolate berry jelly trifle, again good but not amazing. I am not a trifle person so I wouldn’t order it again.
The reason why I am not rating this one is because it was mainly focused on the beer and not the food. I also only had a small amount of each dish as I stupidly ate beforehand so it doesn’t seem fair to score on a nibble.
Thank you for a great evening Heverlee, Sygn and Wire.
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