Bruegel is an easy drinking soft and tasty amber ale. Thanks to the refermentation it offers more body, more head and more taste than most other American and Belgian Amber ales. It is brewed with Dutch barley and German hops. Although the bitterness is clearly present, it is not dominant. Since the Bruegel is low in alcohol, you can drink many of them in an afternoon or evening. It is a typical alternative for the common pilsner, when you want more taste and more color in your life.
We named our Bruegel Amber Ale after the famous 16th century painter Pieter Bruegel, and we chose part of his "Peasant's Dance" painting as the bottle label. Let me tell you more about this man, who lived in a revolutionary time when the religious wars swept through Europe. This was a cruel and dangerous time to live, which, when the blood was wasted, left the Calvinist in the North and the Catholics in the South of Europe. This same cultural border-line split the Netherlands into the Northern independent Calvinistic Holland, and a Southern Catholic part, occupied by Spain. This Southern part became Belgium more than 200 years later. We know very little about Pieter Bruegel, since he left no written documents. About 30 years after Bruegel's death, Carel van Mander published his famous "Schildersboeck" (painters-book) about the life and the works of the painters of his era. He dedicated several pages to Pieter Bruegel, which he considered one of the most famous, very productive and important painters of Europe.
Very probably, Pieter Bruegel was born in 1522 in the neighborhood of Breda, which is situated North of Antwerp just over the border in today's Netherlands. He learned his craft from Pieter Coeck in Aalst (West of Brussels), whose daughter he married much later. First he travelled to France and Italy, where he painted together with the Italian masters. Views of the Alps, Naples, Rome and so much more on several of his paintings witness his travels. Around 1150, he probably settled down in Antwerp, where he lived with a joyous young woman, that he couldn't marry, since she always lied. This was repugnant to his love of the truth.
Here, in Spanish occupied Flanders, where the intellectuals and the rich were chased away and many women ended up in flames at the stake, because of "sleeping with the devil," Pieter Bruegel painted two different themes. As a first theme, Bruegel painted the daily live of the common people, which gave us his best known masterpieces like his "Proverbs", his "Child games", his wedding-scenes, and of course his many pictures of peasants in their moments of joy and pain. Always settled in an authentic Flemish scenery. In fact, several of the churches, painted in the background of his works, have been identified and are still erect and in full "working" condition. Almost all the views of the scenery are also identified as actual sites.
As a second subject he painted religious scenes, transplanted to his political and geographical surroundings, where he hided his subtle criticism and opposition against the Spanish terror. As a typical example, we think on his "Herodes and the killing of the baby's", where you identify clearly the Spanish warriors, practising bloody religious cleansing, and where you see the local peasants as the victims.
In 1563 Pieter Bruegel moved to Brussels, and married Coeck's daughter. He fathered 2 sons with her. Both sons became also well known painters. Pieter Bruegel died in 1569 and is burried in one of the churches of Brussels.
The Bruegel amber ale is a typical beer of Pieter Bruegel's time. On the one hand you had the Lambics, the spontaneous fermented beers, and on the other hand you had the ales. Lagers were only created in the 19th century. The abbey ales, as we know them now, were already then considered the best of the beers, but the common people drank a "low" alcohol ale. And, they drank a lot of beer, more than a half gallon per head per day! Children, women, men, everybody. Amber, as a color that is not too dark and not too light, was the color most simple ales ended up in. Today, these simple amber ales are making inroads in the marketshare of the Pilsners. Bruegel is your party-beer, when you want something a little less hoppy than the common Pilsner. Bruegel goes with all kind of food. Bruegel is also a "living" beer, since it is refermented in the bottle and the keg. It offers a lasting foamy head, like the Abbey Ales. Enjoy!