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AUG/SEP 2006 | REGIONAL | WEST COAST

Bouckaert’s Beer Tasting Bodes Well For Four Points
By Tomm Carroll

If there were any fears that the recent departure of Carlos Solis, longtime beer sommelier at the Four Points Sheraton LAX (aka “The Beer Hotel”), would mark an end to the hotel’s monthly beer tastings and extensive list of craft and imported bottled brews, they were completely assuaged on Friday night, June 23, when none other than Peter Bouckaert, brewmaster at New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colo., conducted a tasting, talk and slide show.

An appreciative audience of 50 beer enthusiasts turned out at the hotel’s T. H. Brewster’s bar to hear the master Belgian brewer (who worked at the renowned Brouwerij Rodenbach before it was sold to the Palm Breweries concern in 1999) discuss his passion, complete with brewery pictures, and to sample the baker’s dozen of beers — from old and New Belgium — that he brought along. Among the favorites were New Belgium’s spicy Trippel; malty Abbey (a dubbel, made with Chimay yeast); and the rare (in Southern California), barrel-aged, sour La Folie, along with such Belgian treats as the unique lambic Gueuze Girardin and experimental beers like De Ranke’s high-hopped XX Bitter and the earthy Fantôme Pissenlit, made with dandelions.

The visit by Bouckaert, who shunned the notion of brewing to style (“Forget the style! The U.S. is too hung up on this”) and presented a beer selection that was certainly not adherent, bodes well for the continuing zymurgological exploits of Four Points and its regional vice president and chief beer sommelier, Phil Baxter. Baxter announced that not only would the monthly tastings continue unabated, but, thanks to T. H. Brewster’s successful branding of world-class beer for Four Points, as of this July 1, all hotels in the nationwide chain will sport a 20+ bottled beer list, including Duvel and Chimay. It’s time to visit a beer hotel near you.

Photos by Tomm Carroll. Tomm Carroll drinks globally and locally in Culver City, Calif., and writes about beer.

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