Christmas Beer in Belgium
I thought, my petits chums, you might like to know how we do things in Belgium. Back home dans La Belgique, St Nicholas visits our children on the 6th December bringing presents to all who are good. The Squirrellettes leave their shoes out the night before, together with a carrot for the horse & sweets & drinks for St Nicholas & his helper (Black Pete) in the hope that he fills their shoes with presents.
Children who have not been good, so the story goes, will be put in Black Pete’s sack & are never seen again!
Family Squirrel likes to visit the Christmas Market in Brussels & watch the free show in the Grand Place. We stock up on Belgian delicacies like Speculoos (gingerbread) biscuits. This year we used them to make a yummy Speculoos or Gingerbread Spread (see below for recipe).
We celebrate on Christmas Eve rather than on The Big Day itself much like your British royal family. We enjoy a traditional meal with family & friends, finished off with one of my all-time favourites, the Yule Log Cake & of course, accompanied by plenty of Belgian Beer! We then exchange gifts & those of us in a fit state attend a Midnight Mass.
So what does a Belgian Squirrel drink at Christmas? A Christmas Beer of course! In Belgium, we brew beers especially for the occasion. They tend to be darker, stronger & spicier in character. Many people will have bought them the year before & allowed them to mature & soften ready to drink. Now that I am living dans le UK, I was very pleased to see that Weatherspoons are serving a Palm Noël beer (see tasting notes below) that is not even available in Belgium!
Palm Noël will have been brought across the pond in a tanker & racked in casks to be served like a Real Ale. I must be careful not to drink too much, as we still have to finish the shopping . . .
500g Speculoos or ginger biscuits
25g melted butter
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee mixed with 100ml boiling water
Blend the biscuits, butter & sugar in a food processor until smooth. Add the coffee a small amount at a time until you have spreadable paste. You can add in an extra biscuit or 2 & blend again briefly at this stage if you prefer a crunchy texture. Pour into an airtight container & store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Try it spread on pancakes or toast or as an ice cream topping, yum.
|Overall impression||Deep amber, rich & festive, medium bodied Belgian Christmas Speciale Belge Ale beer. Enticing caramel bitter-sweetness with hints of red fruit and Christmas spices followed by a soft, dry finish and a touch of soothing alcoholic complexity|
|Food Match||Christmas cake|
|Origin||Belgium, Flanders, Steenhuffel|
|Unique ingredients||Dark Amber malts, East Kent Goldings, Styrian Goldings|
|Beer style||Christmas Speciale Belge Real Ale|
|Serving tips||Only available in cask. Brought over from Belgium, racked in casks & served as a Real Ale for JD Wetherspoon|
|Appearance||Deep Amber/Slightly translucent-hazy|
|Aroma||Rich complex/Red fruit/Nutty caramel|
|Mouth feel||Light/Full bodied/Smooth/Creamy|
|Flavour||Malty bitter-sweet caramel/Hints of berry fruit and spices|
|Finish||Lingering soft dry finish|
|For more info||J D Weatherspoon|