Food Pairing: Mussels & Fries, Arugula Salad, or an Artisanal Cheese Plate
The Story Behind Witkap:
The Slaghmuylder Brewery is unique in more that a few respects. It is the only surviving brewery in a town of 12,000 people that less than a century ago had thirteen of them. The brewery boasts a functioning steam engine, Anheuser-Busch kegs (left behind after the American troops departed Ninove at the end of World War II), and makes the only beer brewed by a layman ever permitted to use the “Trappist” designation on the label.
Today the handsome 135 year old brewery and adjacent museum (in which the aforementioned relics are kept) is overseen by three cousins who are descendants of the founder Emmanuel Slaghmuylder, a grain merchant turned brewer. The Slaghmuylder cousins brew Witkap Singel (the formerly “Trappist” beer) according to a recipe first developed at the Drie Linden brewery (in nearby Brasschaat). The Slaghmuylders took over Drie Linden in 1981. The brewer there was instrumental in developing many celebrated beers for Trappist monasteries. He was so beloved by the Brothers, and his contributions were so valued, that they conferred on him a special honor. For the duration of his life, his Witkap beers (made at his own brewery) would be allowed to carry the “Trappistenbier” (Trappist Beer) designation. We are importing Witkap Singel (known as Stimulo in Belgium), the most celebrated of the brewery’s beers. Today it bears the “abbey” designation.
Singel refers to the density (light) not the number of times the beer is fermented. lt is twice fermented, once in vat and once in bottle. It is the lightest of the Trappist style beers and is typically drunk at the midday meal.
Witkap has a very high fermentation temperature (22 degrees Celsius). It is held at this temperature for five days. The beer is aged for four weeks at 5 degrees Celsius. The beers are then centrifuged. At bottling, Witkap is dosed with candi sugar and new yeast. It is a blonde beer that sparkles like champagne. It has an extremely estery nose with typical abbey notes of banana and berry. Unusually, this is followed by a light body and lemony finish. Overall the effect is something one could describe as an abbey lager. Witkap is one of the least well-known of our beers, yet is invariably a surprise hit at tastings. Well worth seeking out.
For more information on products from Brouwerij Slaghmuylder check here