No One Does It Like the Belgians

We know the Brits make fine beer, and have been brewing it since the Middle Ages. Chaucer’s pilgrims tippled extravagantly at the Tabard Inn before setting out to Canterbury to petition their favorite saint. The Anglo-Saxons discovered beer even earlier and built great halls in which to guzzle mead―a sweet, heady brew fermented from honey that makes the head swim and provides the drinker with the biggest, baddest headache ever. The Germans, of course, with their bratwurst and steins transformed the ancient mead hall into the modern beer garden. But for my money, the Belgians have been making the best beer on earth for centuries, at one point offering over four hundred different brands from as many breweries in both northern and southern Belgium, a country divided by two languages and an uncommon past.

My first experience of this superior brew occurred one year when my wife and I (full disclosure: she’s Belgian) were invited to a wedding in Antwerp at which kegs of Maes Pils were served following the ceremony. Friends of ours were getting married and we wanted to be there for the celebration. The groom, poet, essayist and editor Herman deConinck, drank almost nothing but Maes Pils, sometimes at the mantel over his fireplace while scribbling lines of poetry with the stub of a pencil. When I drew a mug of Maes out of the keg and tasted it, I knew I had found a beer that I could love―a fresh, crisp pilsner bristling with character and a clean, snappy flavor. But there’s no need to be a snob. Maes Pils, along with Jupiler and Stella Artois, is as common in Belgium as Budweiser or Coors are in the United States. Unlike our mass-produced beer, however, Maes Pils is richer, deeper in taste, more full-bodied than our waterlogged national brews. In addition, the Belgians (and most other Europeans) swear that chilling beer kills its taste, and serve it only at room temperature. Try that at any American baseball stadium on a hot Sunday afternoon: “Warm beer, here! Getcha warm beer now!” But it’s also true that the tastier the beer, the less it needs to be refrigerated. We prefer cold, carbonated, thinner beer with our hot dogs and sauerkraut. Belgians prefer their beer at room-temperature with moules frites.

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Beer Profile: Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse by Terrapin

Profiled by Ken Carman for PGA

pgaprofileThe nose is peach and a hint of wheat. The peach is stronger in the nose: quite dominant, compared to the taste which is slight at best. A White Labs Abbey Ale yeast sense dominates in the taste with a slight wheat-like sense way behind that.

I went to the web site to confirm my suspicions and, yes, it had wheat in it. “Munich?” A whisper at best. Thw acidulated malt may be the White Lab Abbey sense I’m getting, but I’m still holding out for the yeast.

Just a little hazy, pale yellow, head fades fast: tiny bubbles with some pillow.

Mouthfeel is just a bit hop bitter. Very light pale malt.

79 on Beer Advocate, 73 Rate Beer.

The problem here is the balance is off. A great peach aroma is greeted by a so so slight peach taste overcome by the wheat and the yeast and/or the acidulated malt. Can’t give it a 4: cause so boring. More a 3.5.

Probably one of the few Terrapins that have NOT impressed me.



Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”


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martianKen Carman was born of a deity named Bill many moons ago when his wife Winnie was fermenting well at the time. He is a beer judge, beer writer and reviewer of brew-based business, beer commentator and BEER GOD. Do not challenge the one who ate too many hops one year, hence the green pigment you see to the left!

The Other ‘F Word’: Brewer Responds To Starbucks Over Beer Name


In general, getting a cease-and-desist letter from a big corporation isn’t the mark of a good day. But after a brewery owner got a letter from a law firm representing Starbucks, he saw a chance to draw distinctions between the businesses — and to be funny.

The coffee company’s bone of contention, Missouri brewer Jeff Britton was told in a Dec. 9 letter, was the use of the name “Frappicino” to describe a stout served at Exit 6 Brewery, a brewpub in a tidy strip mall in Cottleville, northwest of St. Louis.

The name too closely resembled Starbucks’ Frappuccino, Anessa Owen Kramer, an attorney at a law firm that protects Starbucks’ trademarks, wrote. The similar names might cause customers to “mistakenly believe that Exit 6 or this beer product is affiliated with or licensed by Starbucks Coffee Co., when they are not,” the letter said.

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