Home > Beer > Abbey International: St Stefanus Blonde, Augustijn Grand Cru

Abbey International: St Stefanus Blonde, Augustijn Grand Cru

You may never have heard of Brouwerij Van Steenberge, but they quietly brew an awful lot of beers.  If you look on ratebeer, you’ll see that they make quite a few non-Trappist beers, to which you may have not paid that much attention: Augustijn, Gulden Draak, Piraat.  It’s worth noting that they also brew the house beer for De Garre in Bruges, Tripel De Garre, and I’ve already explained how much I enjoyed drinking that particular beer in that particular cafe.

As Neil explains on Eating Isn’t Cheating, SAB Miller have entered into a distribution deal with the brewery for (at least) Augustijn Blonde, which they’ve rebranded, renamed and have put a marketing budget behind.  This included taking some beer writers to Ghent for a brewery visit.  Whilst I didn’t get a free trip to Belgium, I was sent two bottles of the beer to try.

St Stefanus Blonde (7%ABV) Pours very slightly cloudy with a large head, because I chucked the yeast in as I like to do that with Belgian beers.  The aroma has a banana bread sweetness, a little like a wheat beer.

There’s a nice section on the label that tells you how the beer should evolve in the months after bottling, from 3 to 18 months.  This is around the three month mark, as the seemingly handwritten (but perhaps not) date tells me it was bottled in October 2011, so it should be on the “fresh and fruity” end of the spectrum, rather than “complex and aromatic”.

It has a mild, bready, slightly banana taste, as the aroma advertised.  Kate’s glass, without the yeast in, has a cleaner, less banana taste, but is sweet and slightly bitter with a floral hop taste.  A slightly oily, moderately full mouthfeel works well, and coats your mouth well to appreciate the sweet bitterness on the swallow.  In all, an easy-drinking and pleasant Belgian blonde.

Out of curiosity I also opened a bottle of Augustin Grand Cru (9% ABV), which does not yet seem to have been rebranded and which I bought myself with real money.  This has a similar best before date to the St Stefanus Blonde, so I assume a similar age.  It differs in a richer, more tart taste and a more noticeable grassy hop flavour.

The Grand Cru is just that little bit more interesting, but really it seems like the same beer, just a little louder.  Neither matches either my rosy memories of Tripel De Garre or bests Orval, which is – to be fair – one of the best beers in the world.  However it’s a nice brand which actually makes a feature of the bottle aging. If SAB Miller get  few bottles of St Stefanus into the fridges of bars which would normally stock no Belgian beer (or perhaps only Leffe), I’ll probably find myself buying it in the future.

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  1. January 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I’m hoping they send me one…i gave them my addreess at least. This needs to be the year of Belgian and German for me, last year being all about the UK and US

    • January 24, 2012 at 8:15 am

      I really got into Belgian beers last year thanks to Bruges. Kate did too, much to her surprise.

  2. January 19, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I’m sure I’ve tried that Grand Cru but I’m buggered if I can remember where… It was probably after sinking a few De Garre house Tripels lol

    • January 24, 2012 at 8:19 am

      I bought it from Beer Ritz, but I’m sure you can probably pick it up in a few places. Mr Protz’s article suggests the Grand Cru may also be rebranded, so it maybe depends how it’s imported as to how it will be branded. Perhaps they’re keeping the Augustijn brand in Belgium.

  3. January 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I got the pack from them too and have tried one bottle and will keep the other as per their suggestive label….like I need any encouragement to lock my beer away and not enjoy it now…dammit!

    i enjoyed it, but found it a little sweet for my tastes, but as you say, if this was in the fridges then I would certainly buy it once in a while…but not if it was sat next to Orval 🙂

    • January 24, 2012 at 8:16 am

      Yeah, I think it might be worth comparing. It’s not going to have the same Bretty taste as aged Orval though, I imagine. You’ll have to post about it!

  4. Rik
    January 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    I am looking for the St Stefanus beer mats as I collecting beer mats of Belgian beers. I am told there are 2 series. Anyone knows where i can get them?
    I am living in Blegium

  5. January 24, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    there were beer mats tucked into the bottom of the box! mine arrived on thursday and my courage IRS turned up today, finally made it through the NI time delay field!

    • January 24, 2012 at 11:38 pm

      Is that Imperial Russian Stout from the 1982 batch? Would seem about right ;-P

      • January 24, 2012 at 11:45 pm

        i wouldn’t mind if it was! its been a long time coming since i was told I’d get some back in October! was originally planning to review for stout day but it wasn’t ready in time, then my december package didn’t arrive so they sent a new one. Great work from W&Y PR guys at least and look forward to trying it

  6. January 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I’ve been stocking St Stefanus in my bar the Voodoo Cafe, I like the beer and the bottle looks cool on the shelf. The Voodoo Cafe carry over 60 bottled beers from around the world and St Stefanus is selling well which shows that the public are interested in trying more Belgium beers than just Leffe,

  7. June 7, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    If anything, the St Stefanus label is easier on the eyes.

  1. May 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm

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