The next morning, we rented bikes from the couple running the B&B; I was surprised when they lent us their own two bikes! They were large commuter bikes, but they were nice. The were like the Lexus SUV of bicycles. We rode about 13 miles to another small town, Diksmuide and had lunch.
Biking in Belgium was fantastic! There were bike lanes everywhere and cars always gave you the right of way. It felt very safe. The other nice thing was, that the small towns are so close that it only takes 10-15 minutes to get to the next one. So the bike ride went fast!
After lunch, we biked two miles to Esen to go to the De Dolle Brewery!
The building dates from 1835 and was originally owned by a doctor who also brewed beer!
The De Dolle brewery dates from 1980 although much of the equipment is much older.
The tour was amazing! The master brewer, Chris, ended up giving us the tour because his mom, who is in her 80s, wasn’t feeling up to it that day. It was so exciting to get the tour from the master brewer!
The De Dolle personal cellar. I cant even imagine how good the beer is in there!
We finally got to the cellar! It was pretty cold and damp!
I was fascinated with how Chris poured us a sample! Its similar to a straw when you put your finger over the end it traps the liquid until you let it go!
But he only poured the sample into one glass and all five of us on the tour had to share the same glass! Everyone was nice enough to let the lady go first! Thank goodness! And to clean the glass, he rinsed it and wiped it on his shirt. They are so casual about those things in Belgium it seems. Somehow I don’t think that would fly in the US.
After the tour, we headed back upstairs into the tasting room! I finally got to try their Extra Export Stout at 9% abv.
I rarely find this beer on menus in the States and when I try to order it that are always out! Still more Belgian than a regular stout. Raisins, toffee, dark chocolate, Belgian yeastiness! Exactly what I’m looking for in a stout!
Also had the Arabier at 8% abv. Citrus and orange peels, candy sugar, pears, rich and full mouthfeel but not too heavy.
While we sat around, enjoying our beers, Chris brought out the Special Oerbier Reserva 2009 13% ABV and split it between the people in our tour group. I’ve never had this beer before so I was quite excited!
Surprisingly drinkable considering the high alcohol content. Although you can surely taste it. A little more tart, balsamic vinegar, plums and cherries, hints of chocolate and brown sugar, almost more like a fine liquor. A small glass was all we could handle.
When we were nearly finished, Chris came over to chat with us before the next tour. He was telling us about his experimentation with wine yeast and how he has been having problems with it. Namely, that it stopped fermenting. He said he threw a bit more yeast and a bit more sugar in but it stopped again, and that he will have to do a bit more research before he tries anything else. He was just hoping that it was salvageable, but seeing my interest he brought out a sample of the “work in progress.”
Too cool! Completely unfiltered, cloudy with yeast. And it was still pretty darn good. I just find it so amazing that he has such a laid back attitude about beer and that he’s willing to experiment. One of my favorite things that he said was that he has a ton of beer that needs bottling, but that he will put it off a little longer since he thinks bottling is such a boring task. Brewing is the fun stuff!
After all these beers we reluctantly left the brewery and got back on our bikes. We were a bit tipsy, but we made it the two miles back to Diksmuide and had dinner!
We went with the traditional Belgian fare and got mussels and frites!