Piraat is a strong Belgian ale and was awarded a gold medal at the 2018 International Beer Challenge. It was one of six beers brewed at the Brouwerij Van Steenberge that took medals home from London last year.

The family-run Van Steenberge brewery was established in 1784 and is located at Ertvelde, approximately ten kilometres north of Ghent. If you are going to be in the area and enjoy participating in brewery tours, contact Van Steenberge a couple of weeks in advance to arrange a look around the modern premises. Tours, lasting two hours, are held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It is also possible to taste beers at the site’s Bar Baptist taproom.

However, Piraat’s secondary fermentation is a reason to purchase bottles and hold onto them. Over time, the flavours will mature and evolve, from fruity when young to a more complex taste after several months.

This amber ale was first brewed in 1988. Yeasts more commonly used in creating wine were utilised to give Piraat its character, and rice also features among the list of ingredients. The result is a beer with a spicy aroma and a slightly sweet flavour that levels out to a crisp, pleasantly bitter finish.

A rigged sailing ship is depicted on the label on bottles of Piraat, whose name in English means ‘pirate’. Despite the prodigious strength of Piraat, it does not taste like an overly boozy beer. It pairs well with platters of cheese and hearty soups served with crusty bread and lashings of salty butter.

Brewer: Brouwerij Van Steenberge

Strength: 10.5 per cent

Stuart Forster was twice named Journalist of the Year 2015 and 2016 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.

TEXT & PHOTO: STUART FORSTER

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