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Part 2

Affligem – Abbey Blonde

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In our last post, we looked at Edelweiss, a Hefeweizen from Austria, the first out of 3 new imports we are reviewing as part of Heineken’s portfolio. You can read about Edelweiss HERE.

Affligem is a Belgian Abbey Ale that has recently hit shelves in a few select cities across India. Affligem has 3 varieties – A Blonde, a Dubbel (Double) & a Tripel (Tripple).

So, you must be wondering what an “Abbey” Ale is and whether Affligem is a new brand or not?

An Abbey Ale usually with the label “Abdij” or “Abbaye” refers to a Beers that were once made by monasteries. The word “Trappist” Ales is used to describe Ales brewed by Trappist monasteries.

Abbey Beers can be :

  •  Brewed by a non-Trappist monastery
  • Produced by a commercial brewery under license from an existing monastery
  • Created by a commercial brewer using the name of a defunct abbey or can make up a fictitious one (this one surprised me!)
  • Brewed by a commercial brewer and given a monastic branding without being associated with any brewery.

(Reference: Wikipeida) 

Affligem is produced by Heineken with permission from the existing monastery, the Affligem Abbey – a Benedictine monastery in Flemish Brabant, 20 kms NW of Brussels.

When you look at each Affligem bottle you’ll see the number 1074 and a coat of arms embossed on the neck representing the sword of St. Paul and the cross keys of St. Paul.

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The Affligem Abbey was established in the year 1074 by knights not monks. A group of six knights chose to pledge their allegiance to God rather than the Roman Emperor and gave up their swords for holy robes and with the blessings of Archbishop of Cologne, formed the Affligem Abbey in 1074.

modA The founding fathers

Image Courtesy: Heineken

It took the monks ten years to set up their Abbey and as soon as they did they began brewing ales – these were safer to drink than water and hence started the brewing tradition at the Affligem Abbey.

The monks continued brewing tradition and followed the same orignal recipes till the 1950’s. A decision was made by Father Tobias to work with a local brewery to preserve the original recipes and continue the Affligem Beer legacy, years after the Nazis confiscated the brewery’s copper kettles on occupying Belgium during World War II.

It was only in the 1970’s, the monks officially handed over recipes to the same commercial brewer but continue to own the brand and get royalties from Heineken.

Fast forward to today and in the small town of Opwijk, a few kilometers from the Affligem Abbey, you’ll find the Affligem brewery that still makes the same beers made thousands of years ago.


Tasting Notes

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  • Beer Style – Belgian Abbey Blonde
  • Alcohol Content – 6.7% ABV | IBU 24| 330 ML Bottle | MFG Date: March 2017
  • Ingredients – Water, Malted Barley, Glucose Syrup, Hops, Hop Extract,  & Yeast. [Bottle-Conditioned]
  • Glassware – Use a Goblet/Chalice
  • MRP – 280 (Karnataka)

You’ll notice the coat of arms replicated on the bottle crown cap, which looks elegant, complimenting the simple yet elegant front label.

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The Pour

Just like the Edelweiss, there’s a ritualistic pour involved with the entire Affligem range. The reason behind this is that Affligem is “Bottle Conditioned”

Bottle Conditioning commonly referred to as “Double Fermentation” simply means the brewers add sugar and yeast to the beer and cellar the beer for 14 days before sending the bottles out all over the world. This yeast feeds on the sugar in the beer bottle causing a second or double fermentation thereby increasing carbonation and changing the flavor profile of the beer.

Unlike the Germans, who prefer the yeast poured into their bottle conditioned beers, the Belgians give consumers the choice on whether or not the yeast is present in the glass.

Let’s take a look at this pour and how it differs from the German style.

 

 

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Instead of pouring the yeast into your serving glass after swirling, you pour in out into a separate shot glass. Affligem calls this the “soul” of the beer.

Interestingly enough many especially the Germans call Malt, the soul of Beer but in Belgium a Beer’s character is largely driven by the yeast strains used. Malts do play an important role but hops tend to take a back seat. Typically dried hops are used that still contribute to antibacterial functions but don’t contribute much to flavor or aroma. It’s definitely interesting to see how Beer styles and the approach to brewing them varies by country!

You can try the beer without the yeast, taste the yeast in the shot glass separately and then choose to pour into your beer, if you like.

Without the yeast, the beer will be clear and once the yeast is poured in, it will go hazy and of course, the aroma and flavor profile will change.

 

Watch the video above for the “Affligem Ritual Pour” an decide whether you want to do this or just skip it all and sip straight from the bottle (No, don’t do that – this beer is best enjoyed in a glass!).

Let’s get on with the tasting shall we? (*Drum Roll Please*)

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Appearance

Pours golden in color, clear (didn’t swirl the bottle enough) with a dense fine head with plenty of carbonation and medium rising, fine bubbles.

Head retention and lacing are excellent in the beer and you’ll have plenty of carbonation till your last sip thanks to the double fermentation in the bottle.

 

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Aroma

The “soul” of the Beer, the yeast in Belgian Beers is responsible for most of the dominant aromas, both esters & phenols in Belgian Beers.

The Affligem Blonde is no exception and a classic example of a Beer that smells different at serving temperature vs when it warms up.

The aroma first starts out estery-  fruity (pears/apples), slightly citrusy, yeasty and malty/biscuity/bready and then on warming the phenols reveal themselves with notes of pepper. You also get some notes of alcohol.

Flavor (Aroma, Taste + Mouthfeel)

The high carbonation in this beer gives a nice crispy mouthfeel with a slight hint of tartness from the carbonic bite. This isn’t unpleasant and does not clash with the flavor of the beer. The beer starts off spicy, with some malt sweetness, is medium bodied and finishes dry with a slightly bitter finish.

Impression

This bottle conditioned beer with it’s fruity and spicy aromas and wonderful finish is simply delightful with every sip you take. This is certainly a Beer you do not finish in a hurry and worth every penny.

Whether you are new to Beer or a veteran Beer Geek, this is a Beer you must try.

If you’re a fan of Leffe, then this is a wonderful alternative.  One can only hope that the more robust Affligem Dubbel and Tripel will be introduced into the Indian market. Heineken are you listening?

Affligem Award.jpg

Rating: 4.75/5.0

I would have given this Beer a 5.0 if I could but no Beer in the world is ever that perfect. There’s always scope for something better out there but this Beer is so close to being a 5!

The World certainly thinks it’s top class. The blonde won World’s Best Pale at the 2016 World Beer Awards. Read about that HERE

 


 

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In Closing

Belgian Beers are in my opinion the best in the world.

This Abbey Blonde is a great reference Beer for all existing and new Beer Enthusiasts. Understand these aromas & flavors before you head out to a local microbrewery to try their renditions of Belgian Blondes or even better Abbey Blondes.

Affligem despite being acquired by Heineken has not changed in flavor or taste since it was first brewed in 1074.

What are you waiting for? Head out to your local store and pick up a bottle and please pour this wonderful, complex Beer into the glass it deserves. Always respect your Beer! Remember that!

 

 

 

  • Beer Style – Belgian Abbey Blonde
  • Alcohol Content – 6.7% ABV | IBU 24| 330 ML Bottle | MFG Date: March 2017
  • Ingredients – Water, Malted Barley, Glucose Syrup, Hops, Hop Extract,  & Yeast. [Bottle-Conditioned]
  • Glassware – Use a Goblet/Chalice
  • MRP – 280 (Karnataka)
  • TOF Rating – 4.75/5.0

Affligem On Facebook – Click HERE


Availability (Bangalore)

 

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Currently available at:

  • Dewar’s – St. Marks Rd
  • Cyber Wines – Walton Rd (Off Vital Mallya Rd)
  • Drops – Indiranagar

Other outlets in the city also have stock now. Always call ahead to find out if the retailer has stock.

You can also find Edelweiss at several restaurants at bars across the city. Try Fazi Cafe or Fava at UB city to start with.

Cheers & Stay Frothy!

 

JJ The Keg

Part 3 – Sol coming right up next. 


All Images Courtesy: As Noted & Tales Of Froth

 

One thought on “Affligem Blonde

  1. Pingback: The Rumor Mill | TaLeS Of FrOtH

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