Also back from Mecca
Posted by Mat W on 01/30/2002 10:41:49 PM
Have just returned from Belgium where I had an interesting 6 days.
FIRSTLY A THANKYOU TO JEREMY AND FILIP WHO PUT A LOT OF WORK TO ENSURE THE BRUGGE BBBFEST WENT AHEAD WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS AND SECONDLY TO DAISY WHO ALLOWED US INTO HER BAR WITH OUR OWN BEER.
I wont bore you with all the 60 beers tasted but will recount a couple of bits of useful information picked up.
On Thursday I visited Laarne ( East of Gent ) in an attempt to obtain beers from Brouwrij Walrave (one of the three breweries currently operating in Belgium I have never seen or tasted ). Easy to get to, train to Wettern for 10 minutes on a No.34 bus to Laarne. On arrival at the village all looked very promising with every bar having a Walrave sign outside, but unfortunately only 2 were open. As is quite often the case, once away from the tourist areas, English is not widely spoken but I got the idea that the beer was no longer sold in any bar in the village. I tracked down the brewery in Leperstraat ( behind the church ) and walked into the courtyard - deserted. I resorted to phoning the brewery and spoke to a woman who eventually dug some one out from the bowels of the building who could speak English. He offered to sell me some beer and supplied 5 bottles of the Pick Up pils and 5 of the Pick Up Export, and gave me 2 glasses - All for 5 Euros ($5 - £3). Not bad for a mornings work I thought. Then I tasted the beer.
Too put it in a nutshell I think they should rename it Put-Down Pils. It was disgusting. It is not often I throw a beer away but today was one of those times. It tasted stale and off and incredibly like liquid weet-a-bix.
Back in Brugge with Daisy at the Bertje, we were discussing it and we decided that the beer was proably old because the brewery doesn't brew anymore ( a question that the staff would not answer ) and probably the reason the beers has been replaced by Stella in the village bars ).
A better day was had in the search for the elusive Cnudde old Brown. I travelled to Eine ( near Oudenaarde ) by train from Gent and walked to the brewey ( 3 mins from the station ). I accosted a chap painting the gates and he took the opportunity to stop work and take me through the brewery and into the Cafe Casino which is the unofficial brewery tap. Here I was greeted by the owner who looked like he had not trimmed his moustache for a bout 5 years. god knows how he got liquid of food passed it. I digress. The beer was excellent. It had a slightly dry finish and a irony aftertaste ( not unpleasant ) and was very easy to drink. I had hoped to buy some beer for the BBBFest that night but the owner was away, but expected back in about and hour - What is a man to do!!!
5 glasses later, I was the proud owner of a large 5 liter (litre for the pedants out there) barrel of beer for 12.5 Euros and a dispencing system for 32 Euros (ouch). Then when I came to pay for the beer drunk whilst waiting I was told it was on the house.
It was disappointing that the beer from the barrel supped at the BBBFest was not a patch on the stuff drunk in the pub at lunchtime, but it was still. At only 5 percent, it is a session beer in the Belgian sense of the word, It is very quaffable and not to acidic on the stomach (which I find can be a problem with some of the Flemish Browns ) with an underlying sweetness reminiscent of some of the better table beers.
My last night was spent in the Bier Circus where an excellent bowl of Spag bog a la Chimay was partaken of, washed down with a St. Bernadus Tripel followed by a bottle of Passe Sedan Stout from the Co-operative brewery of Bouillon in Luxembourg province.
I was not as impressed as I have been in the past with this beer. It tasted okay but there was something about it that suggested a certain tiredness about the bottle. Maybe it is not a beer for laying down and should be drunk fresh, who knows. Answers on a postcard to ...
Anyway, Best beer of the week ...
1995 De Dolle Stille Nacht at the Kulminator, or maybe the Gauloise Brune Mark supplied at the BBBFest - both excellent.
No its got to be the Regenboog Halloween. I can only echo what Mark and Filip have already said about this beer - a real stunner.
For those that are interested in these things, Van Honsebrouck brew a 7 degree blonde beer now, called Kasteel Blond which I had on draught at the Bottlje in Ostend, but was not too impressed with.
Drie Fonteinen have a new Blond beer brewed by Proef breweries of Lochristi, called Beersel Blond at 7 degrees. A lot better than the Kasteel but still not brilliant. The original beer has been renamed Beersel Bio.
Last but not least A WARNING. If you should find yourself in l'Excelsior in Mons do not allow the staff to pour the beer. I ordered large bottle of Caracole Brune which was completely buggered when the waiter poured one inch of beer into the glass from a great height creating 4 inches of head, then slopped the bottle back upright and slammed it down on the table - result - yeast soup.
The beer list in the bar is superb with a selection of Belgian and artisanal French beers, and the food is superb 9 try the scampi a la buerre l'ail (garlic butter) - COR.
a fatter than usual Mat
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