Blonde vs. Grand Cru – What’s the difference?

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St. Stefanus is a blonde beer from the brewing capital of Belgium – Ghent. It’s a medium strength amber ale with wonderful flavour that develops in the bottle. In Belgium, it is typical for breweries to create a second, more elaborate version of their brand, and we are no different. Grand Cru is a vintage version of St. Stefanus, with key elements that make it just that little bit more special. So, what sets the two apart and when is the perfect occasion for each? St. Stefanus Blonde is matured for at least 3 months before being sent out to market, where it continues to ferment and develop in the bottle thanks to the wild Jerumanus yeast. In its youth, it pours a light golden colour with a good head that stays, lacing the glass as you drink. It is fresh and fruity, with aromas of grapefruit, green apple, clove, cinnamon, banana and peach. On the palate it is balanced by a touch of sweet caramel, finishing with a dry, hoppy bite. By 18 months, the golden colour has deepened and the head has developed a more delicate, mousse-like texture. The citrus aromas have been replaced by more complex hints of apricot and mango, and the caramel sweetness has matured into a deeper orange marmalade, with flickering notes of vanilla, toffee and almond. Our Grand Cru follows a similar process of secondary fermenting in the bottle; however, it is not released from the brewery until it has been aged for at least 9 months. At this stage it has already matured to a light, hazy gold with a sweet aroma of zesty grapefruit and lime with some herby notes. On the palate, the beer is less sweet, as the warming alcohol character balances perfectly with flavours of peach, banana, pineapple and pawpaw, finishing with a drying bitterness for a mouthful of perfect elegance, class and refinement. At 36 months, the beer has matured into a rich, dry flavour with a champagne-like character. It is lively and complex, and has developed a buttery golden colour and a touch of honey sweetness. Just like our blonde, the recommended serve is at cellar temperature – around 8˚C. As it warms, the flavours and aroma develop, revealing a depth of flavour deserving of the Grand Cru title. The key difference between the two is in the brewing process: where our Blonde epitomises the dubbel Belgian style of beer, the Grand Cru follows the traditional recipe of a tripel. While this makes it a richer and more mature, at 9% ABV, it is not something you will want to drink every day. The taste is something that should be savoured and appreciated, making it perfect for dinner parties and celebrating with friends. Our Blonde, on the other hand, is much more diverse. Whether you’re relaxing after a long day at work, out with friends at the pub, or giving your cooking some extra depth and flavour, St. Stefanus Blonde is always a good choice. Have you tried our Blonde and Grand Cru? What maturity did you have? Try aging your St. Stefanus at home to explore the full range of flavours.

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