I was looking at my photographs from our trip to Belgium and I felt the urge to review a Belgian bottled beer. This one is known by two different names ~ the one I know it by and have seen it for sale as is Witkap Pater Stimuloin some places it is exported to it is called Witkap Pater Singel. I have tried it a few times while in the Flanders region of Belgium, during visits to Ghent and Ostend for example.
Witkap Stimulo is brewed at the Brouwerij Slaghmuylder. This family owned brewery can be found in a place called Ninove, in the East Flanders region of Belgium (this is probably why I usually find it when I am in Flanders). The business began back in the 1860s and even has an old working steam engine that can be used to power the brewery. Today the brewery produces a range of beers and there is also a museum and visitor centre attached to the brewhouse. Now the Slaghmuylder Brewery is run by three cousins, who are direct descendants of the grain merchant (Emmanuel Slaghmuylder) who founded it so many years ago.
Some of the beers you may come across from this brewery include Witkap Pater Tripel (a pale golden beer at 7.5% ABV), Witkap Pater Dubbel (an amber coloured ale at 7% ABV) and Ambiorix Dubbel (a red/amber beer at 8% ABV). These beers can be found in a number of outlets in Belgium and are also exported around the world. I have also seen them for sale on various beer supply websites and mail order sellers.
*A Bit of Background*
The name Witkap Pater is actually a reference to white hoods worn by the Cistercian monks who were responsible for brewing a goodly amount of beer in Belgium ~ literally, father in a white hat. You will see a picture of the monk in question on the label pictured. This beer is brewed in the style of an Abbey beer (and was up until the 1960s referred to as a Trappist beer).
Witkap Stimulo is a bottle conditioned top fermented beer, which means it is still fermenting in the bottle and hops which “float” on the top of the brewing vessel were used during production. The export name (Singel) refers to the light density of the beer, while the Belgian name (Stimulo) refers to the invigorating effect that this beer is supposed to have.
Stimulo weighs in at 6% ABV ~ not as strong as some Belgian beers, but definitely with a bit more kick than your average English bitter. According to the brewing notes candy sugar and extra yeast are added during bottling to allow the beer to re-ferment and continue to develop.
*Look, Aroma & Texture*
Stimulo is a light yellow/blonde coloured beer that is slightly cloudy ~ there is quite a lot of sediment in the bottom of the bottle, so the level of cloudiness and the amount the beer clears when settled varies depending on how carefully you pour (my tip is to pour slowly, leaving as much of the sediment in the bottle as you can. Then taste and see what it tastes and looks like. Afterwards, pour a little more of the sediment into your glass and see how much the look and taste is).
Once poured the beer has a light coloured frothy head that starts off large and falls slightly to leave a lacing on the glass. Aroma is quite spicy (coriander I would say), with a touch of vanilla, fruit (bananas, lemon and citrusy lemon hops) and a hint of yeast. Texture is quite carbonated giving it a bit of a “fizzy” sparkle and it is quite light bodied compared to most of the beers we tried while in Belgium ~ although there is a slight syrupy feeling in the mouth.
*Tange’s Taste Test*
Taste wise, Stimulo has a well balanced blend of hop and malt and sweet and sour flavours, with a bitter edge thrown in, making it actually quite a complex beer for something so (relatively) light. The yeastiness that was present in the aroma is the base flavour throughout, but this is complimented by other elements coming through.
I could taste a lemon/citrus, the coriander spiciness, surprisingly a hint of fruit (possibly bananas) and a slight sourness. This leads to a bitter finish that actually has a slight pepperiness (if that is really a word!). It has a refreshing aftertaste that combines the bitter with a lemon tartness that helps to wake up the palate.
~~~WHAT TANGE THINKS.
Though not my favourite beer, or my first choice off the often extensive beer menus, I rather enjoyed my Witkap – Pater Stimulo. It is a beer that has a good balance, a complex range of flavours and is easy to drink. The lightness of texture makes it a good choice for a beer to have with food (what I did on the first couple of occasions). It is pleasant, if not remarkable beer, but certainly one I would recommend. I liked the way the spiciness gave it a bit of a kick and was particularly fond of the light carbonation that tingled a little on my tongue.
I have tried Stimulo on several occasions and have paid roughly 2.10 (around 1.50) for a 330ml bottle ~ a good price for a tasty little number like this. The last time I tried it was the Ostend Beerhouse (funnily enough located in Ostend) and I really enjoyed it. I drank it during a long day and it actually did help to stimulate my palate and prepare me for the drinking session that was to follow. A good beer and certainly one I will drink again ~ after all, a girl needs a bit of stimulation every now and again!
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