Sonntag, 1. Oktober 2017

Modeste Bier Festival 2017, Antwerp

Modeste Bier Festival 2017

As in the last years, the festival is organized by Antwerps Bierollege in collaboration with Zythos and de Koninck brewery.

As a start, I prepare before going to a beer festival, check the list of beers, see what additional information are available, check the app. Etc. This may sound boring but is necessary – like most people I have limited capacity and I want to make the best out of my visit. Life is too short to drink bad beer (or the beer style). This said, it requires some time.
This year’s Modeste was a bit of a negative surprise for a start. Final breweries list was resealed only on Tuesday before a start together with a non-final beer list. Festival app was released on Friday during the day. Final list of beer was on Facebook on the day of the festival. 

If you add to this that the festival app, even if it is providing a full list of beer is sending you directly to untapped for a beer details, you get an overall feeling of the last-minute event having organizational problems and trying very hard not to screw.

I don’t remember this type of problems from the last year event.

For a summary – 38 breweries in total, some breweries/beers were accessible only one one of the two days). This time almost all breweries are Belgian. This is good news though. Leffe and co, have nothing to do here. Only honest craft beers. Very interesting selection, quite a few I haven’t seen and some I respect a lot.

Like last year, the event is held next to the de Koninck brewery and one can imagine a great combo doing both festival and brewery visit on one day.
Another negative point was a security guard do not let me in the festival. Not because I have some dangerous substances, but because the critical mass of people has been reached. 15 minutes waiting for a beer. And, please trust me – you don’t want to be the one between me and my beer on Saturday afternoon.

Honestly, I was there on Saturday at 3 pm. And I admit the situation was even worse when I was leaving around 7 pm. The line of people awaiting entrance was hitting 60-70, making it approx.. 1 hour to get to the festival. I don’t know what safety issue, regulatory stuff, discussion have led to this disaster, but in a couple of years of going to be beer festivals in few countries – I have never seen something like that before.

Another think I don’t understand – why can I pay for a beer using a real-life money and I need to buy tokens to get a burger? 
OK, it is like the next level of complication – either you do the same rule for everything or you leave it. Especially in the outside part breweries were mixed with food stands. Mixing a currency on top is weird.

So much on the negative site.

On a positive – the organizers have made a great job by inviting the brewers that have something to say. It may sound funny, but the truth is that beer is an art – you may brew a beer for years. Even a good one. But there is a clear-cut border separating good, solid breweries and the artists. Whereas the first will often deliver you a flawless experience; seconds will give you a beer to remember. Kind of a mass stab.

And I am happy to say that some of the beers were here during the MBF17.

Here are the beers I had (and just to remember – with some exceptions, I will concentrate on brewers I have never tried before).


Bronckhorster (The Netherlands)

This was very interesting. I have never heard of the brewery before. It is either going to be one of the most awesome breweries I have met before or one of the biggest disasters. The beer list was awesome, with a strong part of new wave styles including barley wines and imperial stouts.
To keep the long story short – I have tried two beers:
Terra-Incognita (barley wine, 12% ABW) and a Populus6921 (Quadrupel, 11% ABW) and they were both great.

Terra-Incognita (barley wine, 12% ABW) is American interpretation of barley wine. Dark amber colour, medium carbonation, aroma of honey and dried plum, spices. Flavour is more bitter, with well balancing vanilla, caramel and malts. Simply great.

Populus6921 (Quadrupel, 11% ABW) is another stunning beer. Amazing combination of typical, dense, licorice Quad… hopped to the limit! I don’t even want to know what number of hops you need to add to counter dense aromas of quad, but it was worth it! Complementary aromas of dried fruits and dark chocolate/espresso also do the job. Without any exaggeration – why would I ever care about Westvletteren XII again. 

In case of any doubts - this is the Brewery of the festival for me!


Tall Poppy Brewing Company – An Then Stuff happens (brown porter). Unfortunately, this was really the moment the stuff has happened – I have chosen a beef before the average. Bit creamy, bit of chocolate a tad watery. Without any clear flaw but just too weak to stand out.


De Dochter van de Korenaar – 
L´Ensemble di Montalcino (barley wine) 

This clearly was the barley wine festival (at least for me). De Korenaar deserves a word of explanation – for me this is probably top 5 of Belgian new wave brewers. Their “Belle Fleur” was first good IPA I had in Belgium. None of their beers were ever disappointing. Same this time. L´Ensemble di Montalcino smells with toffee, pine and caramel. Flavor is malty caramel, some fruity notes and light bitter finish. Another very good beer.  


Tall Poppy Brewing Company – An Then Stuff happens (brown porter). 

Unfortunately, this was really the moment the stuff has happened – I have chosen a beef before the average. Bit creamy, bit of chocolate a tad watery. Without any clear flaw but just too weak to stand out.


‘t Verzet – Kameradski Balsamico (hybrid of RIS and Flemish sour ale). 

This was something that I couldn’t imagine. RIS and sour ale? Yep. This works but it is not everybody’s case. First surprise is that a sour beer kept all typical RIS notes - roasted malts, coffee and dark chocolate. This must have been an amazing RIS. But then it was changed in a vinegar-like liquor. Complemented with fruity berries and wine aromas. For me this is brilliant. Also, another proof that you need a good and heavy starting material for beer experiments.
To make it clear – all the vinegar part comes at cost – after finishing I was convinced that the beer just perforated my esophagus. And it was worth it.

Beer of the festival!

 D`Oude Maalderij – Homo Beerectus 3 Hop hanker Sorachi Ace (blond). 

 Knowing me, you may be surprised – this is very good blond beer. But none that could win the competition in its own style – why, because addition of Sorachi Ace have complemented it with fruity and characteristic herbal notes that, on one hand do not belong to blonde style, but on the other made this one really enjoyable. Very nice and refreshing beer. 

De Koninck – Black Pearl (RIS aged in rum barrels). 

It is a funny story with De Koninck brewery. If you ask me about a solid Belgian beer, that would be de Koninck. On the other hand, I couldn’t name a single beer from them being great or above the average. Black Pearl has potential to change that. I know that the beer is a bit of an overkill, barrels have given a crazy, strong rum aroma and taste which may be unacceptable for many. Still, this is a step in the right direction. Nice festival end.

BWT - I have no idea what the cool in line saturation means...

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