By Flick Hardingham.
My experience of the amber brew is confined to a vague recollection of a few tasteless pints at Uni. Following a game of ‘Fuzzy Duck’ that didn’t go my way, I had very little choice. Ever since I’ve stuck to the girly basics: red, white, an occasional rose and plenty of spirits in various forms in between.
I thought beer was limited to the bland, pale yellow lagers that soak the carpet of Infernos every Saturday night. The booze of the wife beater vest and women’s rugby teams worldwide.
However, an invitation to the launch of St. Stefanus, a new craft offering from big shots SABMiller, was all too tempting so off I went, man friend in tow to guide me through this brave new world.
Highly sceptical, we arrived at the Vintry in the Square Mile and sidled up to the bar. “Would you like your beer cloudy or clear?” announced the bar tender. I opted for clear and a smooth blonde liquid was placed in front of me.
St. Stefanus is a partnership between Miller Brands (who brought us Peroni and Grotsch), the Van Steenberge brewery (Belgian folk started formulating the good stuff here in 1784) and the Augustinian monks of Sint Stefanus. An unlikely alliance you may think but it works a treat.
St Stefanus is brewed using three different yeasts including the Jermanus strain created by the monks in the 70s. It comes as a 7% Blonde or 9% Grand Cru but the best thing about this beer is that it continues to mature in the bottle until you pop the cap.
So how does it taste? In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, ”me likey”. We sampled the three month old Blonde which was fresh and fruity with a whiff of caramel.
London beer guru, Philip Harding, talked us through the brewing process and showed how well St. Stefanus matches with food. Grilled chicken, dried hams and a good strong cheddar are particular favourites for the Blonde. Whereas the Grand Cru prefers a spicy curry.
So what did my man companion make of me with beer in hand? He likey.