In't Nieuw Museum
Bierstekers started as a side project of our restaurant In't Nieuw Museum in Bruges, it was a rainy Sunday afternoon when we (inspired by a book about Gueuze blenders) decided to get started with some lost bottles and leftovers of beer.
Filled measuring cups, filled some bottles with a lot of spillage, put a cork on it and hope for something tasty. The result was there a few weeks later and it was actually not too bad. Our interest was there!
Later that year we sold the Zure Pater and Roste Patrick for the first time in our restaurant. A great moment! Over the years we made a batch of Zure Pater every now and then, but due to a lack of time we had to put the other plans aside for a while ...
Until the damned year 2020 arrived, all kinds of measures and lockdowns did their job and eventually gave us the time to implement our hobby project. Today 1 year later we can be proud of our track with 18 unique blends.
What exactly is that "biersteken"? It is not brewing, we can already clarify that, we leave that craft to the real brewers.
Long ago, bierstekers and wine tappers were a professional group of their own, they were beer (or wine) traders who bought the raw materiel by the barrel and then bottled it themselves.
A biersteker was therefore not only a middleman between brewery and buyer, but his task was mainly to blend beer from different brews and sometimes different vintages.
In the past, this was done to achieve a consistent quality because the brews differed greatly from one another. "
The photo above shows Charles Annicaert of Wijnhandel Annicaert (also our wine supplier in the restaurant) working with a cork machine from yesteryear. You can also see a barrel from which bottles were tapped in the photo at the bottom left. It is always a pleasure to talk to Charles about the old customs and every now and then we can learn a bit more.
Biersteken is therefore not brewing, so we are not brewers ... we blend beers. Instead of working with malt, hops, yeast and all kinds of complex equipment, we count on our taste buds. So we use existing beers to create new flavors or flavor combinations.
The very beginning is always tasting, with every beer that we now get our hands on, we think about what we could combine it with.
After tasting comes testing, we make different combinations (90-10, 80-20, 70-30, ...) and let that mixture ferment in the bottle. After a few weeks, we choose the (for us) best combination (s).
To be able to blend, we then have to visit the beer store or brewery to buy the beers we need.
We always work in series, where we initially make a basic hybrid beer, this is a beer that no longer belongs to 1 style but is a crossover of different styles. From that point on, we continue to mix and make blends of these basic beers. (see also Acid , Black and White ).
Sometimes in a barrel, often in a bottle and that makes it quite a time-consuming job to open all bottles, mix in a large barrel, fill bottles and cork.
All our blends are small quantities (max 350 bottles) that are all manually filled. That way we keep full control over the flavors.
Bierstekers is the perfect marriage between our love for beer and the passion for taste that we know from our daily reality in the restaurant.
We always strive to find the best products and to put together the best possible dishes.
That is also how we see the beerblending, brewers are our suppliers and our mixing vessels are the cooking pots.