Bread & Belgians : North Coast PranQster

Say what you will. I have a soft spot for Belgians. Je les aime. Next to sours & IPAs, Belgians compete for my heart. (The beer. Not the men. Though I’m sure they’re lovely.) Now I will ask you to be patient with me this month. While I do have passionate adoration for Belgians, I don’t drink them as frequently as say, IPAs, Pale Ales and such. (And yes yes, “Belgians” is a vast generalization) Anyways, I don’t have a lot under my belt and so for Bread & Belgians in February, I’m learning as I go. I’m learning as I go with everything, really, but especially with these.

My only time in Belgium has been golf-related, and at the time, beer was the furthest thing from my mind. In school we played against other international schools for our tournaments, so that frequently meant travelling. We went twice to courses outside Brussels in my year, then I returned again to watch my brother play and visit Brugges.

My favorite course was a very simple and patient place, previously a working farm, with tiny stone roads, impossibly dark green fields, and constantly misty grounds. The other courses we had played were stunning – crisp, perfectly groomed lawns, beautiful main houses, pretty gravel patios where we’d wait for the other players. But this was certainly more charming. The gardens were more haphazard, but well loved – there because of someone’s love of the earth rather than wanting to create a picture perfect image. Instead of pretty gravel patios, we sat on exhausted couches on gritty stone floors in the old house waiting for everyone to finish. Paint was chipping from the walls (I wanted desperately to peel that one eye-level piece that had just begun to lean away from the wall), and everything was generally in a slow state of disrepair. It was unpretentious, tired, but quiet and relaxed – without embellishment. Really though, this place could easily pass for the Shire.

Back to the basics
North Coast Brewing Company
Belgian Style Golden Ale (North Coast), Belgian Strong Pale Ale (Beeradvocate), Belgian Strong Ale (Rate Beer)
7.6% ABV
Bought at Friendly Package Liquors

All in all…
I’m so looking forward to this series, and excited about kicking it off with this. The Pranqster smelled like under-ripe (practically green!) bananas & daisies, and was a pure honey color. Honey I couldn’t even see through this glass its was so cloudy. It was hard to put my excitement aside to focus on the beer, but even that aside, I enjoyed how simple and unassuming it was. Of course it was bright & extremely yeasty, but was on the sweet side (maybe like Challah bread?), which helped to back the bread taste (which can be super overwhelming in others). Other than that I really didn’t taste any special additions or spices (maybe pears if I stretched my imagination) – but that’s okay, it was good all on its own. I was frankly a little nervous that I was missing some flavor, or something else to this beer, but even after having it several more times this week that was still all I got. And I could barely tell I had a beer at all – there was barely any aftertaste and it didn’t leave any residual feeling or flavor. Sort of like meringues…short, swift, and airy.

Recommend to a friend?
Yes, I would. It didn’t knock me over, but it was a good beer. I wouldn’t stop someone in the street, take them by their shoulders and say “You have got to try this! Follow me!”

Safe for lightweights?
7.6% isn’t dangerous per se, but it did make my head feel a little stuffy

Six pack worthy?
Yes please! A four pack I believe…

But don’t take my word for it…

Beer in Focus
(Duvel vs Pranqster)

Summit Brew
(climb a peak, have a drink!)

I hope to see you Sunday for the first bread recipe of this series!

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10 comments
  1. G-LO said:

    Ever since trying the Old Rasputin, I am growing increasingly intrigued by the North Coast line up. It’s like what happens when I find an author or film director that I like, i.e. I want to explore their other work to see if they are the real deal or just a flash in the pan. I have a Red Seal Ale on deck for a review. I’ll add this one to my list as well.

    Once again, great review and beautiful photos!

    Cheers!
    G-LO

    • thebakeandbrew said:

      I haven’t had the Red Seal Ale yet, so that will definitely have to be next for them.

      By the way, I was flipping through the menu for one of our bars in town and saw that they have Ola Dubh 12, 14, Old Engine Oil, and Special Reserve. Super excited to go try one this weekend! (I think it will have to be either the 12 or the Old Engine Oil – price considerations)

      • G-LO said:

        I’ve had the Old Engine Oil. Very delicious! Would love to hear your thoughts on the Old Dubh beers. I’m very curious to try them.

  2. Awesome idea for a month’s theme. I have been looking for some easy bread recipes as of late; looking forward to it!

    • thebakeandbrew said:

      Thank you! I’m hoping to find & make some relatively easy (but still delicious) recipes to share! My biggest challenge so far has been finding a recipe that isn’t such a time vacuum…even though it’s so simple, bread just takes a lot out of your day.

      • Agree…for someone just trying to get into it I have to do some major planning. Even the quick cook (60-90 min) recipes require a day of planning to let the dough rise; I don’t normally have the time/ patience during the week to pull that off.

    • G-LO said:

      Here is a bread recipe that I have now done twice:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html

      Do not be alarmed by the rise time. Although it requires a bit of planning to pull this off, the actual work and mess involved is truly minimal. I HIGHLY recommend this bread recipe. The only catch is that you need to have the enameled cast iron cookware, which can be expensive. The upside is that enameled cast iron pots are jack of all trades and if properly maintained, will last you a lifetime.

      • That is actually the recipe I am going to be giving a try this weekend. Lodge makes a sturdy enameled dutch oven; you just need top pop off the knob with the high heat and cover the hole with some foil and I should be set. I hear VERY good things about that bread though!

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