De Dolle was an amazing tour led by Anna Herteleer, the 90+ year old mother of brewers Kris and Jo Herteleer. She had an impressive command of the science of brewing – from extoling the chemical benefits of copper for brewing to listing the essential hop oils. De Dolle brews on a relic of a system. The brewing kettle is housed in brick masonry. The copper cool ship (no spontaneous fermentation, just cooling) actually has a hop back.
After the tour, we retired to the tasting room. All of the artwork there is done by brewer Kris Herteeler - paintings, sculptures, labels, even his jacket (we want one). We tasted through the classic Oerbier (“oer” is local dialect for “original” but slang for “prostitute”), hoppy Arabier, and moved on to some special releases. Fermented with cider yeast, Fresh Fish had a nose of egg rolls with Asian sweet and sour sauce – very interesting. The vintage Oerbier Reserva was fantastic – almost like a sour Belgian barleywine with complex wood character from the barrel aging. Kris then took us to his barrel aging cellar and blended a glass of the to-be-released Stille Nacht. The majority came from a barrel with conventional yeast that had fermented to 12%. A smaller portion from a barrel with acetobacter provided that complex balsamic tang. Delicious.
Like his mother, Kris was an incredibly gracious host who showered us with beer, history, and his thoughts on some of the more contentious topics of Belgian brewing – namely the science behind “spontaneous fermentation.”
De Dolle is a great place to visit. Beautiful brewery, educational tour, great people and some of the most unique beers Belgium has to offer – just watch out for the high ABV – dangerous!
De Dolle Brouwers
Visit: Tours in English on Sundays at 2pm