St. Stefanus at The Perch

20140706-095212-35532462.jpgLast week we went out to a late breakfast/early lunch at The Perch, our local crêperie par excellence. I hadn’t been by for a while, and although I was probably headed towards a cup of strong tea with my crêpe or maybe an espresso concoction, as my eye wandered over the short wine list chalked on the board I noticed their only beer offering: St. Stefanus Blonde Ale from Belgium.  I suppose if they could only have one beer, it was a good choice!

St. Stefanus is an abbey style Belgian ale brewed by the small family Van Steenberge Brewery in Erdvelde, a small village in East Flanders (Belgium).  Van Steenberge’s beers are brewed under contract with the Augustinian Monastery at Sint Stefanus, in nearby Ghent.  The St. Stefanus Blonde is a rich and aromatic high-gravity ale (7% ABV).

It was the perfect accompaniment to our meal and brought back memories of drinking the (then new) La Maudite by Unibroue at a crêperie in Québec City, the historic neighborhood of Quebec, in 1993. We had just spent a week camping, hiking, and canoeing in La Mauricie National Park and were on our way to Maine.  The complex golden ale was ideal for washing down the hearty Normandy-style crêpes we had that day, and I was quite surprised when I stood up after drinking two bottles – at that time an ale with 8% ABV was a new experience.

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St. Stefanus ales are bottle-conditioned, and signed by the brewmaster.  The bottles we had were dated August 2012 – so at 22 months were a bit beyond peak as described by the maturation recommendations on the bottle.  The beer didn’t seem to have suffered in terms of flavor however I can imagine it might have had a more pungent aroma had it been younger.

The Perch crêpes and Belgian ale: this is Nashville!  Our crêpes were delicious as always – we had both savory and sweet varieties – and we didn’t have to wait as long as we had on other visits (it’s a small place and gets crowded). I wouldn’t mind it at all if the management expanded their Belgian ale selection beyond one beer.  In fact I am recommending this!  Imagine, local crêperies (The Perch has locations in Brentwood and Green Hills) with a broad enough selection of Belgians to be able to choose your ale depending on the crêpe you order… or perhaps even some locally brewed Belgian-inspired ales from Black Abbey on draft…

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