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The summer floods in Wallonia made a jaunt from Brussels to Luxembourg more of a schlep than was intended but I made the trip down to the Grand Duchy anyway. I was last here in 2007 and wanted to see how the beer scene had changed in the intervening years.

Not hugely, is the answer. The roost is still ruled by Brasserie Nationale and its Battin and Bofferding flagships.

Their range is quite French in its limited set of clearly-defined styles, and I took an early punt on Battin Blanche with lunch. Though only 4.8% ABV it's quite a full-bodied witbier, and sweet with that: vanilla mixing with the herbal aroma. The texture is beautifully fluffy but the flavour is basic, offering mild lemon zest and a slightly sulphurous spicing, all finishing very quickly. Nothing spectacular, though the mouthfeel alone makes it worthwhile.

I figured Battin Brune would be similarly average but was surprised by how much was going on here. There's lots of sticky caramel plus the booze heat and bourbon biscuits of a German doppelbock, and just as clean. That it's 7.2% ABV was a surprise and it wears it well, taking full advantage of the weight to deliver flavour complexity. The carbonation level is low to aid sipping and there's a lovely dry and burnt finish to complement the initial sweetness. Every macrobrewer should have something like this on their books.

The set closes with another strong one: Battin Triple. This is a lager-looking chap, clear and golden, and there's an odd skunkiness in the aroma which says green-glass pilsner more than monastic rocket fuel to me. That may just have been a feature of the yeast spicing as it's bang-on style to taste. There's a beautifully clean stonefruit foretaste, brimming with lychee, pear and white plum. Any sugary residue is swept aside by a tannic dryness, making this 8%-er almost as refreshing as a glass of iced tea. My glassful was around long enough to let it warm a little and I started to get a touch of typically-tripel heat, but warming and comforting, never unpleasantly hot; sweet without cloying. This is a lovely expression of the style. It's processed and polished (though bottle fermented, says the label) and that might be a problem for some, but I liked how distinctly pronounced the flavours are. This would be a regular for me if my local supermarket stocked it.

I saw Nationale's upmarket Funck-Bricher Blonde on a few menus during the day and picked up a bottle at Delhaize on my way out. A blonde ale of 5.5% ABV, it's pale and crystal clear in the glass, looking like a pilsner and smelling quite like one too, with a lot of weedpatch noble hops in the north-German style. That becomes a dry and rotted mustiness on tasting, something I've encountered many times before and put down to my personal flavour receptors and not any flaw in the beer. There's a sweet malt base behind it, an oat-cookie effect, mixing sweet and dry. The overall impression I get is of a heavy German bock, which I suppose is what I should have been expecting from Luxembourg's national brewery rather than a floral English-style blonde, but them's the breaks. I pass and move on.

Specialist beer bars are thin on the ground, but one place with a decent sized menu is the corner café-turned-rockbar Rock Solid. I picked Echternacher Hellen hoping for something stolidly Germanic but got quite a rough lager, grainy and hazy like you might find in a German brewpub. The grassy aroma is pleasant and there's a lacing of black pepper which I enjoyed, but beyond that it's overly sweet with too much butter character. Points for effort but few for execution.

Same style, different brewery: Heischter Helle is also hazy. My notes mention Sorachi Ace and I can't remember if that's stated on the label or is guesswork on my part, but there's lots of coconut in the flavour and a pithy lemon aroma which indicates it's accurate. This is clean and decent fare; not a typical or classic Helles but still very enjoyable.

Across the dinky old city, just beyond the palace walls, is The Tube: definitely a continental café but putting on English airs. Here I got my single taste of Luxembourgian IPA, courtesy of STUFF Brauerei. Revolutioun is 6.3% ABV and pale orange with a slight misting. It delivers an old fashioned west coast dankness in the aroma, plus an earthiness that says Cascade hops to me. The flavour is a strange combination of coconut, watermelon and grapefruit; tropical but bitter at the same time. The haze makes it a little dirty but the hop flavours remain clear and distinct despite this. It's unusual and I couldn't fit it into any existing IPA sub-genre but it is tasty regardless.

Given the location, a beer called Grande Ducale couldn't be passed up. It's another one from STUFF and is an ambreé, I guess in the French style. That said it tasted more like a dark German bock to me: grassy in the aroma with oddles of caramel and biscuit to taste. There's a slightly vegetal sharpness to counteract that, grass again and some peppery rocket. I guess it's well made but isn't really to my taste.

Free public transport is one of the wonders of Luxembourg and I did my best to rip the arse out of that in the short time I was there, scooting back and forth on the tram as pub opening hours dictated. In the new city, behind the station, is Craft Corner which I think may be the only modern-style craft beer bar in town. It's also home to the Bouneweger brewery, though I couldn't see any of the production equipment, something which always leaves me a bit suspicious.

Anyway, there was just one Bouneweger beer on the blackboard: Sour Series 2021: Apricot. This 5%-er smells of sorbet: cold and intensely fruity. The flavour really lays on the juicy apricot but there's plenty of tartness to balance it. I found a gose-like salt quality as well. Though a little strong it is supremely refreshing, absolutely brimming with zing. I could easily have quaffed several more.

From the extensive guest offerings, herself picked one from Sweden's Brewski: their Chocolate, Strawberry, Pear, Vanilla Cake. Like the name, it's a mouthful: 12.3% ABV and very heavy with it, smelling of rich chocolate and boozy liqueur. The pear is a clever addition, adding a tart crispness to the cakeyness without which I suspect it would be a bit of a hot and sticky mess. I can't say I was able to detect any strawberry, though. As big pastry stouts go, this is one of the better ones, and props to the brewery who named it for telling us up front what it is.

And that was Luxembourg done. It was interesting how the beer culture has drawn on all three neighbouring countries, as well as the now-generic international craft scene. I would definintely be up for exploring the country properly some time. For now, though, I had other places to be...