Happy September! (Can you believe it's September? Where'd the year go?)
A couple weeks ago, I was at a friend's house, celebrating his upcoming 30th birthday (yes, I hang out with the chil'rens). He's a bit of a good 'ol boy: hunter, owns a big truck and has several dogs running around, and is a proud fan of Natty Lite. But for some reason, he always seems to have one or two bottles of unusual brew hanging out in his refrigerator. I'm not sure how they get there; he doesn't drink them. But true to his oversized heart, he's happy to share.
So it was with great excitement that I discovered, lonely and forgotten in the refrigerator door, a bottle with a familiar image on the label. Looking handrawn, it was of a snail standing (yes, it has legs; it's a cartoon snail) in front of a lit candle set in the ground.
One of my favorite beers ever is Nostradamus, a Belgian brown ale from Brasserie La Caracole, in southern Belgium (the Wallonia region). At 9.5% ABV, it's a heady, sweet beer. It's also the only beer I've ever seen from Caracole.
But here, in my friend's refrigerator, was a beer labeled simply "Caracole." It was 8% ABV and lighter in color, a Belgian amber ale (the label says as much). Not as sweet as the Nostradamus, it still had that sherry-like alcohol taste. It was a little like a heavy wheat beer - I definitely tasted citrus and spice.
While I couldn't find a web site for the brewery, D&V International, an Belgian and French beer importer, has a good deal of information on Caracole. From their web site:
Truly artisanal Brasserie La Caracole is located in a small village Falmignoul, Province of Namur, Wallonia in southern Belgium, close to the French border. All styles are bottle conditioned (second fermentation with yeast in the bottle), unfiltered and unpasteurized. The recurring theme on each label is that of spiral snail shell from which the brewery takes its name. Apparently the snail is the emblem of Namur and the word for a snail in local Namurois dialect is "Caracole".
The brewer also make a white beer called Troublette and a blond called Saxo. The only retail establishment I've found Caracole's Nostradamus in is The Wine & Liquor Shoppe of Jonesville, right on Newberry Road. And they didn't actually have it, they ordered it for me. This is not a beer you find just anywhere. Stubbies in Gainesville has had it on tap before. So where in the hell did my friend find this one bottle of Caracole amber ale? I asked, and he had no idea how it showed up in his refrigerator. Foiled again. Oh well, at least I had this one. I'd love to have another.