Monday, January 02, 2006


No Short Cuts to Good Beer?

There are probably no shortcuts to making a good beer. It can sometimes be said about getting a good beer to drink as well. The only place where you can sample the delicious brown ale from the Cnudde brewery is in the Oudenaarde suburb of Eine.

The Oostvlaanderen town Oudenaarde was famous for its tapestries in medieval times, though beer enthusiasts would first and foremost associate the place with the tradition of oak-aged, sweet-and-sour brown ales, also called Flemish Old Brown Ale (Vlaams Oud Bruin) or even Oudenaards Bruin. It is a style that was about to disappear, men things may be changing with the increased interest in Belgian craft beers.

The most famous of these breweries is Liefmans, but they no longer brew at their Oudenaarde plant (according to Tim Webb maturation may again take place there). A much smaller affair is the brewery of Cnudde, whose brown ale is found on tap only in the brewery's own Cafe Casino and the more fascinating Kaffee Barbier in nearby Nestor de Trièrestraat no 140, both in Eine. Eine is a mere 4 minute train ride away from Oudenaarde in the direction of Gent; buses will bring you there, too.

As there are no shortcuts to business profits either, this fifties-style barber shop combines as a beer café, with seating just opposite the huge barber chairs for waiting and/or drinking customers. There is a separate bar area at the back of the salon as well.

The beer itself is chestnut brown with a small, creamy off-white head. Fruity and lightly sour with some vanilla notes. Initially sweet and fruity, it develops towards a more sour finish.

Well worth going out of the way for, though in this case short cuts are possible.

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