Cheese, Trappist Beer, and Fun

On January 20, 2016, I had the pleasure of attending a Trappist beer and fondue pairing event at D&T Drive Inn in Houston, Texas. This event was hosted by Erik Ogershok, formerly of Real Ale Brewing and Victory Brewing along with D&T Drive Inn and Treadsack.

When I first heard about this event, my mind first went to the thought of pairing fondue with rich and flavorful beers. I quickly decided this sounded like a great event to meet Mr. Ogershok and learn more about Trappist style beers from a long-time professional brewer.  There are conflicting thoughts on beer dinners/pairings; however I am a firm believer that over anything else, they should be a fun and educational experience. Quickly after arriving at D&T last Wednesday, I realized this is exactly what would unfold throughout the evening.

It's time for fondue!
It’s time for fondue!

D&T transformed their patio into an outdoor 70s style living room with blankets, fondue pots, settings for family style sharing, and a very warm and inviting atmosphere. The tables had cheeses blended with Belgian and pilsner style beers for your dipping pleasure.  For those who wanted a different spin on things, there was a pot of beef broth to cook beef, various crusty breads, or vegetables. My good friends named it the “meat Jacuzzi.” If you ever are curious about dipping French bread into beef broth and then into fondue cheese, just pursue it, it’s a glorious combination of richness and dairy. I also high recommend the brightly colored enamel pots for fondue; they make events like this one more festive.

We deemed our one pot for fondue dipping, the "meat Jacuzzi."
We deemed our one pot for fondue dipping, the “meat Jacuzzi.”

One can’t forget the main point of this event though, the beers.

We sampled 5 Trappist style beers throughout the fondue and beer pairing.
We sampled 5 Trappist style beers throughout the fondue and beer pairing.

We started off with the Belgian Dubbel styles and worked our way through the various brands/varieties of Belgian Trappist styles that were offered throughout the evening. Erik Ogershok was our host and I quickly realized that he was one of the big influencers in making Golden Monkey for Victory Brewing Company and Hans Pils for Real Ale Brewing. Upon further introductions about himself, it was clear to the guests that Belgian beers have been a huge influence for Erik and his career as a brewer. Don’t let the long hair and metal t-shirt fool you, this guy is not only passionate about craft beer, he adores Belgian beer too. While striking up a conversation with Erik, he mentioned that Belgian beer has been a part of his life for over 20 years and he’s been presenting about Belgian beer for more than a decade.

Ogershok smelling the aroma of Trappist beers.
Ogershok smelling the aroma of Trappist beers.

The two beers that stood out the most during this event were the Westmalle Dubbel and St. Bernardus Abt 12. Westmalle Dubbel is a dark, ruby colored beer that as most Trappist beers has a second fermentation happen in the bottle. This beer was full of richness, bright malt flavors, and finishes dry.  The monks have been brewing this specific style of beer since the mid-1800s. Erik pointed out the fruit flavors in this beer that are very present when smelling the beer.  Many people noted the possibility of figs or other dark fruits. The beer only sits at 7%, which makes it a great beer to start off a beer pairing event.

BeersDelivered

The St. Bernardus Abt 12 was our last beer, and it was referred to us as our “dessert beer.” This beer is known to many as a Belgian Quadruple style beer, and also is known for the high ABV.  This Belgian is around 10% and deems one to sip slowly on the dark colored beer due to the higher levels of alcohol. St. Bernardus Abt 12 is also quite malty, but with the presence of fruit, it has a very balanced flavor profile. This beer has an extremely fruit forward aroma, but finishes much more hop forward than the Dubbel we had earlier in the evening. It made for a nice ending to the event.

The other beers that were consumed are found in the picture below. If you have not had the pleasure to enjoy Orval, I highly recommend you find the closest store that has this beer and purchase one for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

A view of the tables and set-up for the pairing event.
A view of the tables and set-up for the pairing event.

My hope is that more places will do more casual beer pairing events with great hosts like Erik Ogershok. It helps to have a well-known brewer present about popular beers/beer styles, but to keep the event fun and light-hearted. Cheers to more fun beer dinner events in our future!

**Many thanks to a number of the photographs that are courtesy of Treadsack.**
Learn more about the latest adventures of Erik Ogershok here.

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