In 1897 Arthur Van den Bossche bought a plot of land in Sint-Lievens-Esse. The brewery came about after he married into a brewing family and decided he too would build a brewery alongside his imposing house. Buffalo beer supposedly came about due to the mistake of a young employee in 1907.
In that year (Buffalo) Bill Cody was touring Europe with his Wild West Show; Arthur van den Bossche went to the performance together with virtually the whole staff. The youngster was left behind, probably much to his annoyance, to tend the brew kettles. Whether out of disappointment or neglect he somhow forgot to stir the liquid which resulted in it caramelising on the bottom of the kettle.
Van den Bossche was, at first, not amused, but when he tasted the beer he decided it was not bad at all. He sold the ‘new’ dark beer and it has remained in production ever since. The beer started life as simple buffalo; the year, 1907, being added later. The label depicts a rider and bucking bronco.
A nice story, if it’s true, which no doubt has helped the sales of the beer over the years, but how does it really shape up ?
A dark amber colour and a fairly dense beige head which stays around as a 5mm. topping. The aroma is sweet malt and some fruit. Not surprising the first taste is a caramel sweetness and dark malt.
Any dark fruit there gets lost; the overall impression is far more toffee apple with a tobacco dryness and a touch of bitter chocolate, which extends with the hop bitterness into the finish. At 6.5% alc. not overpowering but enough to keep everything together.
A drinkable dark beer but nothing extraordinary. Buffalo Bill probably deserved better; maybe the stout version created for the centenary in 2006, but I’ll leave that for another time.