At the turn of the century, there were over three thousand small breweries sprinkled throughout Belgium. One hundred years later, that number dropped to only 117. One of those surviving breweries was the Biset brewery, located in the Belgian village of Pipaix-Lenze. Though it did not remain functional over those 100 years, it did remain mostly intact. In 1914, it nearly escaped ransacking by the Nazis. Occupying German military forces were looking to snatch up metal resources and tried to take the brewery's steam engine, but only ended up snagging the copper vat.
Years later in 1984, the brewery was purchased by married beer-loving duo Jean-Louis and Sittelle Dits who renamed it La Brasserie À Vapeur, or "the Steam Powered Brewery." We sampled four of their steam-powered beers, including one that was brewed in 1996.
6 % ABV
Pouring a rich gold and slightly hazy, this lager was quite active with super fine carbonation. This one just smelled refreshing with green apple and stone fruit on the nose. Slightly dry with a toffee sweetness, the Folie tasted a bit boozier than 6% tag would lead you to believe.
1996 | 7 % ABV
While the Yankees where winning the World Series stateside, this beer brewed in 1996 was just beginning its time in the bottle. A finely carbonated amber color with some tart aromas, this beer also evoked a little cheese rind. The taste was sugary sweet with a strong, juicy strawberry richness. Overall quite interesting, but we are left wondering what this one would have tasted like had we opened it a few years earlier.
7 % ABV
Definitely the most interesting out of the bunch. This herbed beer, brewed with fig leaves from the brewer's garden, poured a thin gold with some almond cookies and heavy earth on the nose. That richness came through in the taste, with an almost Tawny port like quality.
9 % ABV
This beer was the most rounded and well balanced of the four we tasted. Cochonne poured a rich brown with a candied sugar nose. Spiced with coriander and sweet orange peel, the flavor had a slight tartness to it that was quite enjoyable.