Back into the Cellar

Petrus Aged Pale Ale

Apparently, heaven is a deliciously sour place.

Once again I find myself mining the beer cellar in the bottom of my refrigerator, and to my great delight I pull out a bottle of a Belgian pale ale from the family owned Brouwerij Bavik. They call their beers Petrus, which is Latin for Peter, and, of course, St. Peter holds the keys to heaven, so the Bavik Brewery’s beers are also the key to heaven.

The brewery makes an Oud Bruin, Dubbel Bruin, Gouden Trippel, Blond Ale and Speciale Ale, but the Petrus Aged Pale Ale is is my go-to beer when I’m craving a sour beer.

How good is this beer? It was recognized in the 2012 World Beer Awards as the world’s best wood-aged beer. The previous year it won the world’s best specialty pale ale award.

Matured 24 to 36 months in barrels that were previously used to make Calvados (apple brandy), living organisms in the oak barrels impart the refreshing sourness that makes Petrus Aged Pale Ale such a delicious and refreshing experience.

All hail sour power!

MacQueen’s Nessie Whiskey Red Malt Beer

Something has happened to this Austrian beer since the last time I sampled it a few years ago. The alcohol content has dropped from 7-something to a mere 5 percent.

From the Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg (Castle Eggenberg Brewery) of Vorchdorf, Austria, which, the label states, has been making beer since 1148 (truthfully, beer has only been brewed there commercially since 1681). The castle and brewery have changed hands many times but has remained in one family for the past 200 years, making it the oldest family-owned brewery in Austria.

Brewery owner Karl Stoehr, the sixth generation of his family to head the brewery, once told me the beer was named for Roderic MacQueen, who during the late 1980s and early ‘90s served as the brewery’s consultant for the U.S. market. Stoehr described MacQueen as “the midwife for this beer.”

Brewed with peat-smoked whiskey malt imported from Scotland. This is malt normally used to make Scotch whisky (as they spell it). The Nessie in the title is a whimsical reference to Scotland via the Loch Ness monster.

Nessie has a big malty aroma, a fizzy come-on, and a mildly sweet and smoky flavor that finishes with a pleasant hop bitterness. I wish I had an older bottle of the stronger brew to compare to this newly reduced alcohol content.

The brewery also produces what was once considered the world’s strongest lager, the 14 percent Samichlaus Bier. We’ll get around to Samichlaus in another column.