There is a common misconception that while alcoholic beverages such as wine and whiskey benefit from being allowed to mature, the quality of a beer diminishes over time. This stigma may be appropriate for certain lagers, however speciality beer can be crafted to change over time, developing complex and aromatic flavours through the process of maturation.
As with some food products, time will change certain aspects of a beer. While the potency of certain ingredients may soften, others will become more prominent. This process can be harnessed by a talented brewer, allowing them to plan the development of their beer. This creates the possibility of a subtle range of tastes and flavours depending on the age of the beer, allowing the consumer to choose how they want their beer to taste.
Our own St. Stefanus Blonde is a prime example of a beer that explores the potential of maturation. Originating at the Sint Stefanus Monastery in Ghent, Belgium, the recipe and unique yeast strain ensured the beer would develop and mature over time. Now entrusted to the local Van Steenberge family brewery, it is the job of Master Brewer Jef Versele to continue their tradition of a beer that matures in the bottle.
St. Stefanus goes through two phases of fermentation, with the second round of yeasts added at the bottling stage. As the beer is not pasteurised, the yeast remains in the bottle allowing the beer to continue maturing over time.
An exceptional level of care and attention is involved throughout our entire brewing process. This care means that the beer can continue to mature until it is opened - without any degradation of quality.
Such is the precision involved in every aspect of our beer’s design, that even the shape of the bottle can enhance the effects of maturation. The 75cl variation of St. Stefanus Blonde is reminiscent of a champagne bottle, allowing the beer to be stored in a similar fashion to wine, rested on its side, in a cellar. The result being that over time, the beer will mature to offer a richer experience, with a more complex and aromatic taste.
The brewing process and the subsequent maturation for a craft beer like our St. Stefanus Blonde, creates a dynamic range of tastes. This is what is so special about craft beers – for the first time it has been left to the consumer to choose how they want their beer to taste.