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    Interbrew, Belgium
    Posted under The New England Beer Reviews by Avery Glasser (c366822-a.htfdc1.ct.home.com) on Monday July 02 2001 @ 08:34PM CEST

    Interbrew
    Belgium

    Sighted at: All over the state


    Some beer snobs liken Interbrew to the mega-breweries of America like Anheuser-Busch and Miller, but even though Interbrew is one of the largest brewing concerns in the world, it has taken a different path from the American mega-breweries.

    In the United States, Anheuser-Busch operates a number of breweries around the country, and each of the breweries are designed so they can produce any of the Anheuser-Busch family of beers. The location in Tampa could produce Budweiser on any given day and then switch over to making Michelob or Busch Light. The design is that in any part of the world, Anheuser-Busch could plop down a brewery and begin producing their entire line of beers without variation from what you would get from the original brewery in St. Louis.

    Interbrew took a different approach. Recognizing that each region of Belgium (and then the world) produced distinct beers that required distinct equipment, instead of creating large corporate breweries, Interbrew bought out local breweries which continue to produce their beers to this day. Some of the most commonly recognized Interbrew properties are:

    Belle-Vue Lambics
    Hoegaarden
    Jupiler
    Labatt
    Leffe
    Rolling Rock
    Stella Artois
    Dos Equis
    Tecate

    Interbrew's strategy is that beers should be be produced where they are consumed. Yes, Rolling Rock in Europe is made in various Interbrew facilities in Belgium, but the majority of the 80 brands owned by Interbrew are still produced at the same breweries that they have historically been produced in.

    Leffe Blonde, Brewery St.Guibert, Mont-St-Guibert, Belgium (also produced at De Kluis in Hoegaarden, Belgium).
    Though the Abbey at Leffe does not produce beer anymore, they have licensed the name and the recipe for their beers to Interbrew, a large Belgian brewing concern. The Blonde, a fantastic beer when served on tap, unfortunately does not seem to bottle well.

    The Leffe Blonde that I consumed on tap was a wonderfully yeasty beer that challenged the palate. However, the bottle that I sampled recently was more akin to Stella Artois, Interbrew's pilsner offering. The Blonde is just that in appearance: golden yellow with no hint of cloudiness that was apparent on the draught sample that I was fortunate enough to have. The bottled version seemed to be lacking in overall character... no strong malt or yeast taste and no real aromatic sense at all. I even allowed the beer to warm above cellar temperature to see if that would help, but alas, it did not.

    Before you avoid the Leffe Blonde that you find in your local package store, please read on. As you probably know from my other reviews, I am extremely critical of beers, especially Belgian brews. Even though this review seems scathing, there are some factors that need to be considered. First off, the facility where I purchased the Leffe is an unknown. It was my first visit, and I have no idea how well they store their beers (by the way, in Connecticut, I recommend the following reputable beer shops: Conti's Liquors, Southington; Crazy Bruces, West Hartford and Bristol; Spiritus, Hartford and West Hartford; Maguire's Wines, Simsbury). Also, since I have had Leffe Blonde before and been thoroughly impressed, this might have just been a poor sample. The Leffe that I know and love is a hazy-blonde with a strong malty sweetness that changes in your mouth to a sour yeasty taste... sort of like a good Sourdough bread... and is worth searching out. Even this sample of Leffe Blonde was enjoyable and worth the $5.00 that I spent on the 750ml bottle... it just wasn't nearly good as the other Belgian beers that I have recently enjoyed. I hope to re-sample this beer from another distributor shortly and will update this review accordingly.
    (Avery Glasser)


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