SEEFBIER is a classic and original Antwerp ale created on March 1, 1814, and was brewed until WWI. This beer of Antwerp and the surrounding area was very popular. So popular that a district of Antwerp was named Seefhoek. World War I took a huge toll on the brewery, as the Germans marched through Antwerp, dismantled the and took all the copper from the brewing kettles. After the beer had disappeared for more than 80 years, it was presumed that the original recipe was lost forever.
(Some of this text used is from SeefBier’s Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/seefbier?fref=ts)
Enter Antwerp native Johan Van Dyck, the former marketing director for Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat. When Van Dyck stumbled across this historical tidbit — that his hometown had once had this wildly popular beer style that was now lost — he was fascinated. No recipes had survived, and few people who had once brewed the beer were still alive.
There are parallels between Van Dyck’s story and the saga of San Francisco’s steam beer. In the 1960s, Fritz Maytag searched high and low for information about the original steam beers and how they were brewed until he had slowly pieced together enough information to create Anchor Steam Beer in 1971.
For nearly three years, Van Dyck tramped through old breweries, Antwerp museums and libraries, searching through old newspaper articles and ancient archives. He knocked on doors, interviewed elderly retired brewers and even descendants of old brewing families before finally finding a brewer’s handwritten notes about brewing Seef. The recipe was in a shoe box, left behind by a deceased relative who had worked at one of the Seef breweries in the early 20th century.
Van Dyck took the notes to two highly respected brewing scientists at the University of Leuven, father and son professors Freddy and Filip Delvaux, who agreed to analyze the recipe and help recreate Seefbier for modern brewing equipment. In a stroke of sheer serendipity, they also found some of the historic yeast used to make Seef, banked at the university.
The beer has been described as “the working man’s Champagne.” An 1863 account called it a “white beer that foamed like Champagne, and went to the head like port.” It’s a cloudy beer, like you’d see in a hefeweizen, brewed with four different grains — barley, wheat, oats and buckwheat — along with Belgian hops.
(Text from Brooks on Beer: Seef, the resurrection of a beer style – http://www.mercurynews.com/jay-brooks/ci_24338779/brooks-beer-seef-resurrection-beer-style?source=rss)
2012 was a great year for Seefbier. It quickly gained industry recognition by earning a Gold Medal at the WORLD BEER CUP in San Diego, California in May. It garnered lots of attention the various beer festivals in Belgium, and started being talked about in various newspaper and magazine publications, and even television in the Belgian market. International markets started showing interest, as the beer started being exported to different countries.
2013 found Seefbier entering the US market with much fanfare. In September, Seefbier earned a Gold Medal at the World Beer Awards in Europe for the BEST BELGIAN STYLE ale. (NOTE: It was not available to us here in the Redding, California market until late January 2014.)
Future plans are for a development of a new brewery in Antwerp; the beer is currently being contract brewed by Brouwerij Roman.
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
6.5% ABV. Served at 51°F in a wide-mouthed Trappist goblet. (We did this, knowing it would have a big head on it. So much so, that it had a gushing effect when we poured it- hence the reason you see the head in the picture slightly “off”. We also wanted to experience the bouquet for the first time in this style of glass.) Pours a golden color with an easy 3-finger height head that is super dense, with tight bubbles. As the head collapses, it leaves behind extremely dense Brussels lacing in the glass.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
The bouquet is very citrusy and crisp- lemons with a nice floral hop aroma. There is a banana aroma in the background.
The initial taste is very tart, very lemony, acidic, very refreshing. It has a hefe-weizen taste to it, but it is different. It has a vanilla undertone.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
The acidity of the beer hits the front of the tongue, feels more “Belgian” than a German hefe.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Salads, light cheeses. ENTRÈES: Seafood, pasta, chicken, Moule en Frite. DESSERTS: Anything lemony, tart, or sour.
Seefbier is an excellent choice if you want a beer to “refresh” you. Great for outdoor barbeques in the warmer months. This being our first taste of Seefbier, we may review it again in a future post. But for now, we find this beer to be very high quality, and unique! Seek this one out and be “Seef” drinking!