Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 11 and 12: Survived and Made it to Berlin

As a follow on from the last post, I also didn’t complain when as I was leaving the owners of the B&B said seeing I was by myself in a two person room they would take some money off the board for the night. I got to Charlie Rockets and met two Spanish girls looking to find a place in Brugge so they can study at the uni. They had been to the beer fest, so gave them the low down on the girly beers to try (banana, etc). I decided on a walk through the poor part of town as tourist would be everywhere else. I had planned to go back to ‘the’ Flemish stew place but it was closed, so ended up finding a pub nearby that also did one, so was able to have a stew with a view. The stew came with a Brugse Zot Blonde, which went well to cleanse the tongue from the chips and gravy, but did not do much with the actual meat (too hoppy). Some of the meat was dry too but the gravy was dark and reminded me of a Beef and Guinness Pie.

By now it was mid arvo so time to hit the beer fest. I did not meet up with Colin or Kris at it and after not speaking to anyone for most of the day (maybe people were worried seeing me in t-shirt, boardies and thongs), and so on my last token was just thinking that it might be good to be a loner for the day when I noticed this guy next to me writing on the back of coasters and tapping with his fingers as he wrote.

Realized he was writing in some sort of prose/poetry and commenting on the beers he was trying in this way. He accidently left one of these behind when he went for his next beer, but when he came back and wrote another, I picked up the one he left behind and gave it to him. That was it. After that we got on like a house on fire. His son was a chemical engineer for Liefmans brewery and had helped come up with their Cuvee Brut, then Moortgat had taken over the brewery and he had lost his job. He was now traveling the world and wanting to come to Australia, and so Willy (his dad) was at the beer fest by himself. What fortune to come across Willy and chat for an hour about beer and life. In his and his son’s honour my last beer token was used on the Liefmans Cuvee Brut, and not a stout as I had intended.

After such a meeting was encouraged to have one more beer, and so went back to Brugs Beertje for a Hercule Stout as I had done the previous night with Colin. And who should be there but Kris, so got to catch up and meet all the people she had got to know while there. All the locals let me sit at the bar with them and try their beers, talk beer (one of them works as a tour guide to the Brugse Zot brewery in town), travel, sport etc and Daisy behind the bar was not surprised to see me ask for the Hercule. This was then my last beer in Belgium, and as you can see, Daisy got her hand in the shot of me having it. Having to get up early to get to Berlin today I left at 10:30pm feeling very content with what I had experienced this final day in Belgium and all I had done over the past 2 weeks. I am now in Brussels Midi station waiting for my train to Berlin, and a new country (and it’s beer) are to be experienced.

Alright, now to the actual beers I had yesterday

The Ambertanterik had a caramel smell but also some sourness. Also very gassy so is hard to get flavour from it and slightly sour and dry in aftertaste. Tastes off to be honest and hope the first is the worst I have on the day, even if a bit of caramel starts coming through as it warms.

Sint Bernardus Grottenbier is pretty spicy on the nose but has a good body to it. Like hops though, I personally don’t agree with much spice, but to be honest this would probably be pretty mild for a spiced beer, so seems to have a decent balance between spice and caramel, with a nice clean finish.

Aged Orval (2008) has citrus/spice/hop smell but fairly subtle. This translates to taste early on but there is a sting on the tip of the tongue before it fades away to a dry but clean finish.

After having the Brugse Zot Blonde at lunch, decided I should also try the Dubbel Bruin, but like it was explained to me by Willy and the other locals afterwards, is pretty commercial with dull but nice dark flavouring and some decent texture. There is some alcohol towards the end but as it warms to caramel comes through a bit more.

The Stout Leroy smells pretty creamy and has some texture to it but it pretty mild in flavour. It sweet, but not in a roasted malt way, almost like sugar is added just for sweetening (after checking my Belgium beer guide I realize why as it styled as an ultra sweet light stout. So is sweet, but not much else going on. Maybe a chick’s stout for the uninitiated. (note: at this stage I needed a lie down so went back to the hostel for and hour so could power on for the evening)

One of the best beers for the day was the Noir De Dottingnies which had a nice creamy head and was also similar with the texture. Finally another real stout found in Belgium. Not quite a Hercule but still pretty good. 9% alcohol is a good level for the flavours in the beer, which are rich and dark. Good beer to have fresh taste buds for.

My second last beer was the Viven Porter, which again was nicely creamy with a brownish head but not much smell. Still, in the mouth a smokeyness exudes which is not near a rauchbeir but getting towards it. There is coffee on the mid and smoke at the end that lingers for a bit. Still, texturally good.

Ending on the Liefman’s Cuvee Brut was situationally perfect, seeing I had the chemical engineer’s dad with me. Still, logically would have been better to have it first. Still, I have to say, there is a very delicate balance between the sweet and sour of the beer, but with more flavour than a Faro. If I was educating someone on lambics, would go faro, then this beer.

So, that has eaten up the time till my train comes, so better find my platform and get going for Germany. At this stage I still have no idea how to get to Jaimi’s from the train station, but am sure something with happen to sort it out....and it did and now Jaimi and I are drinking beers while I update the dak.
We have just had a Kostriker (pretty mild and watery) and a Berliner Kindl Bock Dunkle (this is more like it with a bit more bite in the flavour), a Litovel Schwarzbier (fairly standard) and a Konig Ludwig Dunkel (good bit of flavour to it, and the first German beer I can mark off my to do list).

Different country, but the beer journey continues...


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