With so many beers brewed in Belgium how does one stand out from the rest or how do you make your choice as a customer? The Duvels, Leffes and co apart, advertising on the part of the brewery is a costly affair with limited return.
The family brewers are slowly building up a following; in general the route taken by most is to come up with a good story and a striking label. From the consumer’s point of view this certainly helps, but it must follow through; the beer has to be good, too.
I don’t deny it, I took the bottle of ”Mother Superior” from the shelf because I liked the label with the nun seemingly in a great hurry (to fetch a drink? Or to admonish someone for indulging?). So, the ploy worked, the bottle is in my hand and I am looking for the brewer: Lefebvre. Respectable; their Hopus was very good – I’ll give it a try!
The next question perhaps is why use a nun to attrract customers? Not such an unusual thought; one of the oldest experts on beer was a Benediktine Mother Superior, Hildegard of Bingen, who lived from 1098 until 1179. Probably a regular beer consumption helped her to reach 81years; in any case she certainly understood beer and was the first person to describe the effect of hops in brewing.
Throughout history many women have played an important role with regard to beer. Katharina from Bora, for instance, the wife of Luther was a brewer (she learnt her skill in a nunnery); Luther, a keen beer drinker, wrote for her to send him some of her beer, threatening that he wouldn’t return until he’d received it. Did her actions subsequently cause him to preach more or less?
Anyway, back to our Mother Superior. It pours well, a deep golden colour with a. good head that fades quite quickly. The initial impact on the nose is a spicy yeastiness with malt. In taste this gives over to a more caramel sweetness and a well balanced bitterness. A nice beer, well worth trying: in my opinion a notch better than Hopus; the question really is; is it worthwhile for a brewery to make two not so very different beers. I think not.