Urthel – Saisonniere & Hop-It
Urthel Brewery is based in Ruiselede, West Flanders Belgium, andcreated by female brewer Hildegard van Ostaden. Being the sucker for a great bit of marketing I was drawn into these beers by the glass shape and the funky cartoon old man that can be seen on their labels. Urthel claim to be a forward thinking brewery which sticks to traditional Belgium brewing techniques. I have been keeping a pair of bottles to try for some time now, so today I crack these bad boys open!
First up World Beer Award 2010’s European Best Seasonal Pale Ale winner Saisonniere, a pale golden thirst quenching Saison using 20% wheat. I am a huge fan of Saisons and this is a great example of one with a slight twist using the wheat.
Huge head when poured with the beer itself being a pale golden colour which is slightly cloudy. Lemon and yeast on the nose with hints of those Belgian spices usually found in wheat beers. Saisonniere has a fizzy feel and froths up once poured into your mouth but is incredibly refreshing, I can imagine this would go down well with even the most hardcore of lager drinkers on a hot sunny afternoon in the beer garden!
Urthel beers although typically Belgian in history and appearance they also bring a little bit of modern American taste with them too with the use of strong hops. Yes this is a saison, yes this has that wheat beer feel and also yes it has that bitter after taste and finish. Saisonniere is a great beer that is clearly at its best outside on a hot day, it has a good taste, isn’t overly strong at 6% (in comparison to their other beers) and it has a taste that will stay with you for a while after drinking.
Second up is Hop-It, rumoured to be Belgiums first IPA, although this is just rumours! Darker golden colour compared to Saisonniere and far less of a head! Although I have kept this still for months there was still a lot of floaty sediment action going on as I poured it (carefully!) Very damp smell to this beer not really getting any powerful hops in the smell but I am getting that sweet typical blonde smell slightly, also when my nose is right in there I do get that smell of a strong drink. Surprising taste I thought this might be full all hop in ya face bitterness but to be honest it isn’t. Quite sweet and slightly creamy, malty biscuit flavours and more yeast taste than hops. There is one thing for sure about this beer though, it doesn’t taste like 9.5% at all! So big warning signs on this label!!!
Two strong beers worthy to be on a pubs beer menu, the Saisonniere is lovely and I would happily have a few more of those on a nice summers day, the Hop-It although a very decent beer for me got slightly sickly towards the end. Urthel and their little cartoon mascot will be a brewery that I will look out for on my future trips to Belgium.