Sadly the world is in the midst of a global pandemic because of the Corona virus, which then unfortunately lead to MBCC (Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen) being rescheduled to a later date this year – luckily MBCC wasn’t canceled, which is good news for lot of beer lovers including myself - quite happy about that!
One of the breweries, or should I say blenders I’ve been looking forward to taste more beer from during MBCC, is the small but highly popular ”Bokke” blendery. – With no MBCC in sight before later this year, I thought to myself, now’s the time to write up a Brewery spotlight on them, for my to share with you all!
Back in February I was lucky to get hold of a few bottles of the highly sought-after Lambic blends from the hands of Bokke blender ”Raf Souvereyns”.
Then a few weeks ago I cracked the bottles, and experience some of the best Lambic blends I’ve had in a long time – Before diving into which bottles I had, and what I thought about them, let my first introduce to you ”Bokke” - Lambic and saison blendery from Hasselt, in Belgium
Bokke former know as “Bokkereyder”, has in their relatively short life time risen to be one of the best Lambic/wild fermentation beer producers in the world. With Raf Souvereyns steering the wheel, Bokke is now a well know name in the world of craft beer drinkers, and his beers make people go crazy!
If Bokke are present at beer festivals, you’ll often see an enormous queue of people waiting for their pour of liquid gold. Often people miss out, as Bokke has a tendency to run out of beer fairly quick – but when you get that drop of Bokke beer, well then you’ll know why Raf has made a name for Bokke – BTW back in 2016, Bokke won the Ratebeer award “Best New Brewer In The World”
But do you really know Bokke? And do you know Raf Souvereyns?
Yes or no, let me fill you in on perhaps the biggest rock star in the world of blending and barrel aging Lambic.
Bokkereyder Switched Name To Bokke
Bokke was founded under the name “Bokkereyder” back in 2013, but as of February 1, 2019 Raf could not longer use the name Bokkereyder because of a cease and desist letter from Brewery Cornelissen whom over at period of 25 years had been making a beer called ”Bokkereyer”
Quite a shame, as the name “Bokkereyder” is a Flemish word that means ”The one who rides a billy goat” and is a signature of rebellion, or perhaps dark magic –pretty cool I must say! But non the less, it’s not about the name, its about what’s in the bottle and the magical experience when you get that aroma and taste from one of Raf’s blends.
With the mystery regarding the name change out of the way, let’s rewind and go back to the start, back to the early years.
Raf’s journey towards barrel aging and blending beer started way back – It all started with him touring local Belgian wineries. He grew an interest and affection for wine and the art behind it, and a way to learn and practice the craft, he helped as a somewhat apprentice to better understand winemaking.
It’s was the fateful encounter and friendship with a man named Ulrich Kremer ”Uli” (owner of Huisstekerij h.ertie, another blendery in Belgium) and a combination of visiting wineries and undergoing almost an apprenticeship at wineries, where he would talk and learn from winemakers about the process of barrel aging and blending, which lead pushing Raf on a path to uncover the wonderful world of Lambic.
Uli had already been blending Lambic for some time, and didn’t hesitate to share his skills and knowledge when it came to teaching Raf. Uli also taught Raf, that it was possible to make all kinds of Lambic beers not by home brewing first, but by purchasing inoculated wort or finish Lambic from breweries – and then simply blend beer at home.
With his newly acquired knowledge, Raf prepared to make his first blend. Raf drove to Brouwerij Girardin and bought a small amount of Lambic, and drove home to start making his own blend.
One of the earliest blends was a Kriek – a Lambic that had been undergoing maceration with sour cherries. Reports say, that the blend didn’t turn out the way Raf wished, and was eventually poured down the drain.
The first blending experience didn’t scare off Raf - his enthusiasm, inner spark and the love for blending just kept him on the path of learning and thereby becoming better at the whole process behind blending beers – I Think all you reading this might know, things turned out great for Bokke!
Flash Forward To Present Day
As of today, Raf still doesn’t brew his own Lambic – as he says “Why brew Lambic, when there are brewers in Belgium who have a lifetime of experience brewing Lambic”. Raf buys bulk size amounts from three different traditional Lambic breweries, which he uses as base for his blends. The breweries he buys from are Girardin, Lindemans and De Troch. Raf also makes blends containing saison, which he buys from Brasserie Fantôme.
Raf has once pointed out, that he believes De Troch Lambic to be the main influence of his flavor signature.
Bokke beers range from traditional blends, all the way to boldly experimental blends and crazy ideas – Raf once did a blend with additions of Ahlgrens bilar – but, that blend didn’t turn out great, and unfortunately went down the drain.
Through the use of different ingredients, primarily the highest quality fruits and spices - but also a wide range of barrels like Cognac, Sherry, wine and many more are in his arsenal of tricks, when it come to blending traditional blends with a modern twist.
Highlight Of Two Blends and Where To Buy Bokke
Just to tease you a bit, here are some of his blends, which I think sound amazing!
Framboos Noyaux– a Blend of 1, 2 & 3 year old Lambic with 3 varietals of fresh local raspberries, Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans, and apricot pits. Bottled January 2019
Winterkriek Kaneel – a blend of 2, 3 and 4 year old lambic with Schaarbeekse and Gorsem cherries. 18 month maceration in pinot noir barrels. Due to the extended maceration, the beer underwent a spontaneous malolactic fermentation, making the beer softer on the palate and richer in the body. Following an old kriek lambic recipe from 1907, Ceylon cinnamon sticks were added to the barrels. The result is a smooth and rich winterkriek
Well sign me up – Would be thrilled to try out those blends – wouldn’t you?
Sorry if my writings have teased you a bit, because Bokke beers are quite hard to get hold of. If you want to try Bokke, you´ll be quite limited as the distribution is through events and bars.
For now, Bokke beers are available at these locations: - In De Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst, Eizeringen, Belgium - Akkurat, Stockholm, Sweden - Koelschip, Copenhagen Airport, Mikkeller Baghaven, Copenhagen, Denmark - Muted Horn, Berlin, Germany and of cause at events and festivals Bokke are attending.
As I wrote earlier in this article, I was extremely lucky to get hold of some Bokke beers back in February, and before ending this article I’d like to give you my review on these beers. – The beers I was lucky to score were ” Wijngaard – Rood and Steengaard. Lets dive in!
Review Of Two Bokke Blends
Bokke: Wijngaard – Rood.
This beer is a blend of 1, 2, 3 and 4 year old lambic blended with dornfelder, pinot noir and gamay grapes. Dornfelder harvested in Haspengouw in September 2017, pinot noir harvested in Haspengouw in 2017 and 2018, gamay harvested in Beaujolais in August 2018.
The color is clear bright red color. It pours a small head, after a while it falls to a thin lacing.
The aroma is tart, funky, very fruity and vinous. High amount of grapes. It has a light funk, and a good amount of tart’ness. On the backbone you’ll notice some woody and red wine’ish notes.
The taste is highly vinous, funky and fruity. First off you’ll encounter a very well-balanced tart’ness, which then shifts towards The main characteristics of the beer! The ensemble of dornfelder, pinot noir and gamay grapes grapes and the barrel character gives off a very pleasant taste, which is so well balanced, and saturated with so many flavor components!
The finish is tart, dry, and with a low bitterness, It has a medium to high carbonation, with a medium mouthfeel/body.
I couldn't have wished for more - Elegant, beautiful and fully capturing, what I would describe as the “missing link” between beer and wine - Want to try some “wine-beer” then this is probably one for you!
This beer is a blend of 1, 2 & 3 year old Lambic with apricots, white peaches, würzer grapes and white muscat grapes.
The color is clear slightly hazy golden color. It pours a small head, after a while it falls to a thin lacing.
The aroma is very stone fruit driven - bright and saturated! Loads of peaches, apricots just keep hammering away in your nostrils! The stone fruit mix is the most dominating, but the grape qualities also pack a punch - making it quit vinous. It has a light funk and a mild acidity-
The taste is mind-blowing saturated bright Stone fruits for days! The fruit characteristics just keeps coming and coming! Towards the back you’ll notice a little funky vibe of citrus and green apple, with a mild tart’ness!. I love the combo of peaches, würzer grapes and white muscat grapes – The grapes also shine a bit, but real only a subtle note. It has a slight hint of sweetness, and it has a light aftertaste of wood.
The finish is tart, dry, with a low bitterness; it has a high carbonation, with a medium mouthfeel/body.
Words can't describe how nice this beer is! Bokke just kills the “Blend Game”! This beer is an elegant fruited Lambic - Refreshing, crushable and complex - if you havn’t had Bokke before, try it, FIND IT! you’ll thank me for the advice!
All Good Things Come To An End!
I had a blast writing this spotlight + tasting / reviewing the two blends I was lucky to get hold of. I really hope to see Raf and the rest of the Bokke crew at MBCC sometime later this year, and I hope they make sure to bring a truckload of Bokke, making it possible for you guys and I hopefully get the opportunity to drink some Bokke – The blends are amazing and fully live up to the hype, and I am sold! – Bokke fan for life.
I don’t have any more written words for you guys – make sure to stay safe and sound. Thanks for reading!
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