New Year’s Eve is traditionally the night for dressing up to the nines and popping open bubbly champagne. Personally I much prefer chilling with friends with a nice beer and watching the city fireworks outside. Not a champagne lover? Any party can be festive with a fancy well-crafted brew! Here are a few ideas how to have a great NYE with beer.
My favorite fancy party beers are Belgian champagne beers. Sometimes referred to as ‘Brut beers’, these beers go through the same process as real Champagne, using a likewise labor-intensive secondary fermentation method. After filtering, champagne yeast and white rock sugar is added. Next, the bottles are turned at an angle so the yeast collects in the neck (remuage), where it can be frozen and extracted (dégorgement). This is a very complex and time-consuming process, but the result is worth it: brilliant clear and sparkling beer. Brut beer tastes light even though the alcohol value is quite high. EU regulations stipulate that these beers cannot be called ‘Champagne’ beers, hence they are officially referred to as ‘Champagne style’ beers.
Deus Brut de Flandres (11,5%) by Brouwerij Bosteels in Belgium may be the most well-known one. The taste is light, dry and effervescent, very much like champagne, with floral hops and light biscuity malts. My last one was a gusher, so be careful when storing it!
Another one of my favorites is Malheur Bière Brut (11%), which goes down dangerously smoothly. I can’t say which one I like better of the two, but to me Malheur has more of a Belgian beer taste than Deus. It’s made from one of their flagship beers, Malheur 10, and is refermented up to three times in the bottle. If you plan on storing it for a while, the brewer recommends to keep the bottle upright in a cool place.
Needless to say that there are many more on the market now since the first one came out in 2001. I’m not sure if they have caught on in the US, though I did come across Jubilee by Victory Brewing and Sundowner Bière Brut by Adelbert’s Brewery on internet.
A few other names I came across are François Bière Brut by Cloudwater in the UK; Bière Brut by Õllenaut in Estonia; Champagne beer by DOT brew in Ireland; Infinium by Sam Adams in collaboration with Weihenstephan and I even found a Dutch one by Bronckhorster Brewing Company called Symbiose Biere Pinot Brut.
If champagne beer is not an option, how about that special limited edition brew you have been dying to try? What better party to open it than NYE! I came across one today that I have been looking for, but hadn’t found yet, Gouden Carolus Indulgence. The Indulgence series is a limited series of beers brewed every year with varying flavours. This year’s version is called ‘Botanik’ and they have added 4 natural botanicals to the blond beer during the ageing process: elderflower, angelica root, cloves and rosemary. Can’t wait to see what that tastes like!
Or why not pop open one of the Abstrakt series by Brewdog? How about a SpontanBasil, a Lambic beer fermented on oak with fresh basil herb, by Brewery Lindemans (Belgium) and Mikkeller (Denmark)? I haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s at the top of my list if I can get my hands on it!
The fancy champagne beers and limited editions aside, I have to admit the winter ales are like spicy treats to me and I couldn’t think of a better drink on a cold winter’s night while watching the fireworks. Below are some of the winter beers and stouts I’m taking to our BYO party on Sunday. I cringe at those lists on the web of ‘NYE worthy beers’. Aren’t ALL good craft beers suitable for the last night of the year? Especially if they fill you with happiness. I’m a firm believer that it’s not the drink that makes the party, it’s the company!
Have a great New Year’s Eve and a beery 2018!