And then there were 16.
Round one of Battle of Belgium 2013 is now on the books. Last night, Belgian beer lovers filed into Kahn’s NW to taste and judge matchups of Belgian beers from some of the world’s greatest breweries. The matchups varied considerably, as classic styles were matched against modern styles, quads were pitted against other quads, hoppy beers were pitted against rich, malty brews and more. Overall, the beers were outstanding, but eventually, the top beers forged ahead. Five of the top eight seeds dominated their matchups, and three were knocked out of the competition: #1 seed St. Bernardus Abt 12 (Waterloo region), #2 seed Duvel (Brussels region), and #2 seed Delirium Tremens (Antwerp region).
In the Brussels region, defending Battle of Belgium champion Leffe Brune trounced Triton Brewery’s Sin Bin, advancing to round two for a matchup with Ommegang Hennepin. Hennepin, with its compelling notes of citrus, floral and spice, may give the defending champion a run for its money. The lower part of the Brussels bracket featured Rochefort 10 destroying Brooklyn’s Sorachi Ace. As many of you may remember, Rochefort 10, a #2 seed, was upset by Leffe Brune, a #7 seed, in round one of last year’s Battle of Belgium. If Rochefort and Leffe continue to hold serve, then they will be on a collision course for an epic rematch in round three; however, strong and delicious newcomers Hennepin and St. Feuillen Grand Cru stand in their way.
The Bruges region was chalk, with all four top seeds advancing. The round two matchups in Bruges are particularly compelling, as this region is stacked with brews that have performed well in past years. Rochefort 8, a finalist last year, is matched against Three Philosophers from Ommegang brewery. Last year, Three Philosophers beat up on Goose Island’s wildly popular Matilda, but was ousted by Leffe Brune in the following round. Perhaps #2 seed Matilda will get another crack at Three Philosophers in round three, but it has to get past Boulevard’s Tank 7 first. Interestingly, we’ll also get to see what Three Philosophers is really made of as it takes on perennially dominant #1 seed Rochefort 8.
For some reason, Waterloo is always the craziest region. Last year, #7 seed and eventual champion Leffe Brune emerged from the Waterloo region. This year, Waterloo featured three upsets, including the biggest upset of Battle of Belgium 2013 so far. Brother Thelonious, a #8 seed, upset #1 seed St. Bernardus Abt 12. Interestingly, Brother Thelonious and Abt 12 were tied at the end of the voting. To break ties in the Battle of Belgium, one Kahn’s staff member tastes both beers, and votes. As luck would have it, I was the lucky staff member. I tasted both beers, and I’ll be honest, both were delicious and it was difficult to choose. Yesterday, for me, Brother Thelonious was the better beer. In an ironic twist, my vote completely busted my bracket, as I picked St. Bernardus Abt 12 to win it all. I apologize if my tie-breaking vote busted your bracket as well.
In other Waterloo news, the St. Bernardus Tripel outmatched Goose Island’s Sofie, setting up a second round matchup with Brother Thelonious. Perhaps we shouldn’t count St. Bernardus out of Battle of Belgium 2013 just yet. In an interesting twist, the bottom part of the bracket features two brews from Canada’s Unibroue Brewery. Both Don de Dieu and La Fin do Monde are outstanding, so it will be interesting to see what your palates prefer.
Antwerp also provided us with three upsets. 2012 finalist Chimay Blue coasted into its round two matchup with Goose Island’s Pere Jacques. Pere Jacques tends to excel in the Battle of Belgium, when it isn’t matched up against Belgian quads, but this is a new year. In the bottom part of the Antwerp bracket, Boulevard’s Sixth Glass dominated Tripel Karmeleit, and Piraat comfortably beat Delirium Tremens. It should make for an interesting round two matchup, but the smart money to win the Antwerp region is on Chimay Blue.
That concludes our Battle of Belgium Round 1 matchup. We look forward to seeing you again tonight from 6-8 pm at Kahn’s North Willow as we get one step closer to crowning 2013’s King of Belgian Beer.
Come join us! K Klub members: don’t forget, there’s a Beerocracy Raffle at 7:30 tonight!