Saturday, August 05, 2006


Water(side) Proef

The address is Groentenmarkt (the vegetable market) in Gent, and the venue is Het Waterhuis Aan de Bierkant- the water house at the bier side. Though the river Leie flows closeby, you are neither there for the water nor for vegetables. The ever reassuring sign "Bierhuis" is prominently displayed, as if they had to prove something.

Proef is there, as you might expect. The presence of the Proefbrouwerij, located in nearby Lochristi, is evident at all the better beer bars in Belgium's third city- those bars have often had a huisbier made for them there (or at Van Steenberge or even Huyghe, both breweries situated just outside the city limits.)

The Proefbrouwerij housebeer made for Het Waterhuis Aan de Bierkant is called Gandavum Dry Hopping. Golden-coloured and big-headed it has a spicy aroma with hints of pine and coriander. The sweet maltiness is well-matched by good bitterness as well as spices, and the mouthfeel is dry. A great housebeer, that I rated a high 4 on the Ratebeer. Pictured is another Proef brew, the Cluysenaer, which, appearances aside, is quite similar to the Gandavum.

This similarity is one of the major criticisms of the industrious Proefbrouwerij. With hindsight I have a feeling I might have been a little over-generous with those ratings; a high rating requires a rather original beer (though dry hopping is a relatively new feature in Belgian brewing). No doubt influenced by one of the most picturesque locations for a beery watering hole anywhere plus attentive and knowledgable service on a nice summer evening, even a beer tourist is just human after all.
The Proef brews are usually always well-made, though not necessarily Nobel prize candidates for originality.

Het Waterhuis is definititely a place for "bier proevers", though staying objective (the link is provided is for some added subjective nostalgia) can be a challenge.

Color me jealous. (and thirsty)

One day I'll be out touring Europe, tasting the finest beers it has to offer. Until then, I'll read your blog and dream.
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