Petrus Aged Pale Ale
"Aged "? Many beers have a long maturation, but this one has 24-30 months, in wood. "Pale "? This beer has an "old gold "to bronze color, rather than the Burgundy more common in the breweries of West Flanders.
It is a pale version of the traditional local style (which has no name, but for which I have used terms like Sweet and Sour Flemish Red Ale).
Serve cool, between 45˚ and 54˚F.
This beer is made only with pale malts, and is unblended. It has 24-30 months in wood, and emerges with an oaky aroma; hints of sherry (a Palo Cortado nuttiness?) and fruit, among a depth of flavors; the classic sourness in the finish; and an intentionally low carbonation. Its alcohol content is 5.8 w (7.3v).
A "white "Red Beer (in wine terms)? The temptation might be to compare it with a "white "Zinfandel but, with that sherryish character, the beer is much more robust in flavor and body. Perhaps the name Aged Pale (for which I must take some responsibility) also hints at sherry.
"...and the holder of the keys to heaven".
My preview of the finished product was not at the brewery, but at a nearby restaurant with a decidedly winey name, Bistro Merlot. The beer stood up well to a slightly smoky trout mousse and peppery anchovies. I wonder how a Merlot would have performed? Or a Cabernet?
Which brings us to Petrus, This name has been used on its range of specialty beers since the 1980s by the De Brabandere family brewery, of Bavikhove,West Flanders. It was inspired by St Peter, "the oldest Pope," explains chief executive Ignace De Brabandere. Then he adds:"...and the holder of the keys to heaven". The name did once prompt a visit from the Bordeaux château Pétrus, but apparently it was very friendly.
The new Aged Pale was developed from Petrus Oud Bruin, the brewery ’s more typical example of the local style. That beer is blended from two specially made pale beers and one dark, the latter aged for 20-24 months in wood. The brewery has three cellars of wooden casks, each with nine 60-hectolitre vessels. A fourth cellar, the one primarily used, has beautifully maintained casks of 220 hectoliters each. These are about 50 years old, bought a couple of decades ago from France, where they first held white wine and then Calvados.
Although the Oud Bruin is a small product in volume, it is still emphasized in the company's literature.
The Oud Bruin has a big head; mahogany color; a full flavor, with rich, soft, chocolatey notes, vanilla oakiness, dessert apple fruitiness, passion fruit and restrained acidity. It has an alcohol content of 4.4w; 5.5v.I n a local restaurant, I was served goose liver and smoked duck on a salad with a Petrus vinaigrette, mopped up with raisin- bread toast.
Although the Oud Bruin is a small product in volume, It is still emphasized in the company's literature, and the name Petrus has been taken as a rubric for a Special (ale) and a Triple.(see appropriate chapters).
The brewery is in the fourth generation of the family De Brabandere. They were originally farmers in Bavikhove, and moved into brewing in 1894. The application to the town council for permission to build a brewery is still proudly displayed in the guest bar, along with a family tree and a glass case one or two metres wide containing a copper model of the present, 1950s, brewhouse.
The oakiness, and a hint of fresh, fragrant, smokiness, is very evident in both aroma and palate of Aged Pale. So is the dryish nuttiness (pistachio?), then passion fruit, pears and green apple. Complex, tightly combined, flavors. Firm, Very long. Sourness in the finish; tannin; and gentle carbonation.
I have not yet had the opportunity to try this new beer with the Flemish fish stew waterzooi, but it could be a perfect partner. Other accompaniments: Smoked, pickled or marinated fish (trout, herrings, sardines). Shellfish. Squid.