We’ll meet again II

Posted on February 23, 2011

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I’m trying to get into the habit of writing more often but events outside of the blogosphere, bikes, Belgium and beer have conspired against me. Within the last week I left London for good, packed in my job and rode off into the sunset some call voluntary redundancy (VR). I’m now looking forward to finally settling and working in the North West and enjoying the regular 4pm finishes. And while I cast my gainful employment net across the North West region I hope to spend a little more time with the kids, the wife, the bike and the beer – but not in the order, obviously…if you reversed the order that might work.

The whole VR thing was a surreal experience but I think my leaving do/last night in London went well and I managed to squeeze in a large bottle of Chimay Premiere – a dark Trappist beer tipping the scales at 7.0% – and a few Young’s London Special Ales – a Belgian style ale that comes in at a rather polite 6.5% – over the course of the evening.  It was a nice way to salute the dirty ole city and say goodbye to people I’ve come to call ‘colleagues’ over the last nine years.

Without the rich fertile beer-hunting grounds of London at my disposal I will have to become a little more resourceful if I’m to keep up the beer acclimatisation training. On the massive plus side, I do live two minutes away from the independent beer retailer of the year, Chester Beer & Wine. This shop is run, or should I say, captained by the inestimable Sam – she is a lady by the way – and she has been known to order beer(s) in on my recommendation.  Sam has already been very supportive on the beer front but more about that in a bit.

There are also the treasures to be found on the web. Not one to rest or even lean on my laurels, I’ve already placed an order for several world-class Belgian beauties: Boon Geuze Mariage Parfait, Gouden Carolus Classic, McChouffe, La Chouffe and Saison Dupont. Yes, I actually dribbled as I typed that list; I hope you did reading it. I thought I’d mix it up a bit and try a something from De Molen, a Dutch brewery I’m hearing a lot of good things about. I plumped for De Molen Rasputin, an Imperial Stout in both stature and strength – a regal 10.7% no less. Mmmm.

Now let us contemplate the beers that have passed, occasionally dwelled and even danced on and around my lips over the last week or so. The first is an absolute classic: Oude Gueze from the Oud Beersel brewery. This is a Lambic beer, or a blend of Lambics young and old, and is according to the old brewery ‘one of nature’s miracles’. As a multiple awarding winning brew it’s hard to argue with that. This style is what beer aficionados call complex and what others would call odd. My wife said it smelt like those yellow cubes you get in public toilets but then she recently asked if I could get her generic larger once in a while rather than my ‘fancy’ beers. Indeed…and she’s actually had it before and revelled in its sophisticated nature so I think we know where we can stick her critique.

Back to the plot…I’d describe Oude Gueze as a cider that’s been raised as a wine only to discover it was a beer all along. Finish one of these and you’ll be a fan for life. So hand your coat to your second, roll-up your sleeves and drink to the end, my friend. Don’t walk away from this fight for your beer soul because this one really is worth it.

On Saturday I had the pleasure entertaining a Duchess no less. The Duchess in question was the Duchesse de Bourgogne, a rather splendid Flemish Red Ale from the Verhaeghe brewery (try saying that after a few beers). This is an almost lady-like 6.2% and if it were a film it would be called ‘The sweet, the sour and the fruity’ and would feature Clint in his pomp. It is what I like to call a three-sip-beer; a bit like Holmes’ three-pipe-problems but beer-based and not involving any trained cormorants, civil servants or the second most dangerous man in London. The three sips method means taking your time and getting to know the lady/drink in question. Sip one; slowly make her acquaintance but be prepared for the sourness of her retort.  Sip two; gently plant a kiss upon her regal shaker and witness the raising of a fruity eyebrow as she begins to melt. Sip three; take her roughly in both hands, drink deep and let her sweet and sour notes tantalise your taste buds and redefine your sense of taste. This is another complicated beer but like the ‘characters’ our friends often try to pair us with sometimes these can turn out to be a forever friend or even a lover. Word.

I’ll post again very shortly as I’ve actually been out on my bike. Hooray and good night.

Posted in: Beer