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Brugse Zot - abv 6%; £2.40/33cl
In 1856 Leon Maes became the owner of the Half Moon Brewery, which had been operating in the centre of Bruges since 1564.
In 2005, the sixth generation of the family, Leon’s great-great-great-grandson Xavier Vanneste, took charge and introduced a new beer, Brugse Zot.
The name refers to a visit to Bruges by the Emperor Maximilian of Austria during which a welcome parade of jesters, harlequins and clowns was arranged, prompting the Emperor to exclaim: “Today I have seen nothing but fools. Bruges is one large madhouse!”
Since then the citizens have been known as Brugse Zotten (fools of Bruges).
Zot is pale gold in colour, with a huge, fluffy, sticky white head, and a little sting of carbon dioxide on first sniff. The aroma is light and fruity with pineapple, banana, a little butterscotch and a hint of clove.
There are yeasty and floral notes too. It has a light, foamy texture and a sweet maltiness on the tongue, which gives way to a tart citrus flavour, with notes of vanilla, peach and honey.
An earthy hop bitterness appears later, leading to a tangy, and slightly gingery finish.
This is a good example of Belgian Pale Ale that manages a tricky balance between full flavour and delicacy.
As recommended by Jim Helsby, of the York Beer And Wine Shop, Sandringham Street, York.