After a small and unavoidable interruption, we return now to the final of my Brewery of the Year honours, this for the European brewery that most caught my attention. And it is a small and to me previously unknown brewery on the border between Belgium and the Netherlands, Brouwerij De Dochter van de Korenaar.
At a mere 1,200 hl of production in 2013, 70% of which was sold locally, I suppose it’s not altogether surprising that this family business had escaped my notice. But after tasting my way through seven beers in the brewery tasting room – really just an extension of the family home – I was heartily glad to have been finally able to make its acquaintance.
Run by Ronald Mengerink and his family – even the kids help out – De Dochter impressed me across the board, with the dry-hopped and rather unBelgian Belle Fleur, a pale ale aptly named with some lovely floral notes; the rich and chocolaty Embrasse, a 9% alcohol brown ale that bridges the gap between strong porter and abbey ale; Ensemble, a limited run barley wine with great complexity and balance; and Bravour, a restrained smoked malt beauty.
The admittedly unwieldy name of the brewery means “The Daughter of the Ear of Corn” and is purportedly an old synonym for “beer,” although according the brewery’s own website the full phrase was “The Juice of the Daughter of the Ear of Corn.” Perhaps that was deemed too long, or maybe borderline rude. It matters not. What counts is that this is one of the most impressive northern European discoveries I have made in the past several years and, thanks to a planned move and expansion, should in the next few years have its beers a bit more widely available.
Keep an eye open, because this “Daughter” is one to watch, and a most worthy European Brewery of the Year.