Big Belly Brewing JerommekeGetting back into a routine here at JC's Beer Blog, we welcome back another regular feature.
As usual my annual visit to the Borefts Beer Festival at Bodegraven also involved buying various bottles to bring home. However, and unlike most visitors. my purchases were not made at the shop run by Brouwerij De Molen (the festival hosts). There, choice and expensive imports were on offer for the international beer geek crowd. Those of us with an interest in Dutch beers have somewhere else in our sights.
Just down the road from the windmill housing the De Molen shop is Jan Kraan's Speciaal Bierwinkel - a veritable treasure trove of beers from obscure Dutch breweries. He also sells a range of his own 'Kraanwater' beers (a neat play on words as 'kraan' is Dutch for tap) which, to be honest, can be something of a mixed bag. I picked up an armful of beers that sounded interesting and were from brewers I'd never heard of. So here we go.
Big Belly is a cuckoo brewery based in Breda and has been around a couple of years now. The beers have either been made at Brouwerij Frontaal or on the larger facility at INBier in Sittard (a new one on me but they appear to be contract brewers along the lines of Proef in Belgium). There is no working website I can find but the informative Facebook page is here. As you can see a number of beers have been produced and have been generally well-received. The people behind it are Tom Hensen, Remco Franssens and Willem Graste but I confess to knowing little about their background - they do, though, claim to test brew everything three times to make sure they get it right. I can think of several brewers who could usefully adopt that approach. I must say I also rather like their mission statement:
We focus on the good side of life! A little belly never hurt nobody, so eat, drink & enjoy yourself!
So, to the beer in hand. It's described as a gin saison and the entertaining blurb on the label ("Jerommeke is what you call a modern day superhero...") also tells us that the beer contains lemon peel and juniper berries. It's also 6.7% which is perhaps a little top-heavy for the style but it's none the worse for it.
There's a high level of carbonation - perhaps a little too high as this does sometimes detract from what I found to be a very enjoyable beer. There's clean spice on the nose with some herbal and citrus notes - as you may expect from the description. The juniper and lemon are there in supporting roles as you drink, too - and these lead to quinine notes and a long finish with touches of juniper and citrus all the way. My final notes was "gin and tonic meets beer" - I've had a few beers which make this claim but this is the first one that's really pulled it off. I'll be trying more Big Belly beers if I find them.