Borefts Beer Festival 2015 was the seventh edition of the De Molen festival – and my sixth time visiting with a group of beer lovers from Odense. This year saw the festival growing even further, with a new warehouse being included, and the first floor of the warehouse offering a quiet place to sit and talk/write about the great beer. A nice touch that we took advantage of.
The first time we attended, on the festival’s year 2, we had tasted every beer available by Saturday afternoon, after two half-days of beer tasting. Recently, we have picked the more interesting sounding beers, and not really cared how many we managed. Today, it would have been near impossible to do all of them anyway.
One thing that has been clear from the first festival is that brewers have been encouraged to bring new beers. As a ratebeerian, I have been part of this trend, of course. I’m always looking for something I haven’t had before, but I’m not entirely that way anymore. I wish more brewers would bring their best beer as well as their newest beer and their special editions.
I’m actively on the look-out for the great pilsner or pale ale at the festival, whether it’s new to me or not. For that reason, Gänstaller Bräu stood out as my go-to place of the festival, for the exquisite Kellerbier and the even better Zwickelpils. Fresh, crisp pale lagers with plenty of hops in perfect balance with fine, clean malt. Also a shoutout to Lervig Kjellerpils, a stronger, hoppier and very tasty Kellerbier.
Another brewery making go-to beers was Brewski. They have a way with fruit, making Fruit Berliner Weisse that have just the right balance of fresh fruit and actual beer taste. It’s nothing like the beer made in Berlin, of course, but Fruit Berliner Weisse has to be one of the biggest trends in the global beer geek community, and Brewski must be some of the best in Europe.
Some really big beers also impressed me. It’s a festival filled with big imperial stouts, which is also De Molen’s own strongest area. The outstanding Hel & Verdoemenis was available in three different treatments. The Jim Beam Barrel Aged Hel & Verdoemenis was one of the most fantastic beers I’ve had this year. Smooth and complex as H & V always is, and with a nice, light touch of oak.
I never have too high expectations for peated beer, and H & V Bruichladdich was no exception. While I drink smoked whisky, the combination with beer just doesn’t work for me. H & V Cognac was a more surprising disappointment, it felt unfinished perhaps, with hot alcohol and hints of acetone. De Molen Tzarina Esra Eisbock was certainly one of the biggest beers available. An 18.6% ice concentrated monster that tasted surprisingly elegant – a real dessert beer.
Other great imperial stouts were Alvinne Black King, a complex and heavy 11% stout. Brewdog Dog D, a 16.1% strong, and quite sweet monster. And Redchurch Old Ford Export Stout, a much more human 7.5% stout with a full bodied toffee and licorice character and a little hop bite in the finish.
Strong black beers and wild or sour ales have been the most common beers in all six years at the festival. While the black beers have been up to a high standard from the beginning, sour ales have generally become much better. There are now fewer experiments gone wrong, and many more well made beers.
Last year we had two lambic brewers at the festival, which of course was great, but this year saw some good non-Belgian interpretations of classic Belgian styles. Other than that, there were, as mentioned, Berliner weisse, and also plenty of saison and pale ale matured with brettanomyces. De Molen’s own 2 years old barrel aged Saison Brett was a fine example, developing a little tartness, and plenty of complex lambic-like character.
The barrel aged sour, Alvinne Cuvée Sofie also had some lambic character, a funky, but inviting aroma, and a fruity tartness in the mouth. The Flemish red ales from Lervig and Burning Sky shared a distinct character of oak, something that they actually have in common with American sour ales rather than Rodenbach. But they were both very, very tasty beers, with cherry notes, balsamico and a refreshing tartness.
Finally, Redchurch Brett Eastern IPA was an all out brettanomyces beer. Very funky with leather and hay, grapefruit and pineapple and a beer that on a good day could stand in for Orval. I have highlighted a lot of beers, but there were also bad beersat Borefts Beer Festival 2015, of course. I tasted several technically flawed beers, and also fun ideas that didn’t quite work, and beers that were just not to my personal taste. But at least no particular brewery stood out as exceptionally bad this year, so I won’t mention any names.