As we come to the end of a few days in which I was able to relax and come to terms with England and Belgium’s terrific World Cup runs thus far, it’s time to take a look back at some of the other drinks that I have consumed during this World Cup. Some of them excellent, some of them bad.
For the final matches of Group H, I chose to take an extended lunch break in order to watch the first half at a nearby pub (Burns Hotel does not have televisions, as do none of the Samuel Smith’s pubs). On this occasion I chose The Old White Swan (part of the Nicholson’s chain) which is actually a collection of buildings, many of which originated during Tudor times. Despite the warm weather, I opted to go for the intriguing coconut milk stout!
During the Iceland-Croatia World Cup match, I decided to drink the bottle of Guinness Original XX that had been sitting in my fridge since sometime in March.
It’s World Cup time, and that means I’m watching a lot of football, and drinking the odd beer or three. To accompany the Iceland-Nigeria match, I drank a Bishops Finger.
No, it was not brewed in either nation, but right here in England. Look, I don’t know, I’m sure there were at least a few bishops in Iceland and Nigeria who happened to have fingers on their hands, right?
During May and June of 2014, I was employed as a tree planter in the southern interior of British Columbia. I quickly learned that while the occupation was not for me, the lifestyle wasn’t too bad the rest of the time, with ceaseless eating and substance (ab)use around the campfire being a rather pleasant way to spend one’s free time. We all tried many different varieties of beer, whisky, cigarettes etc. in a communal consumption designed to forget the pains of our labour. Every two weeks we would get two days off instead of one, always falling on a weekend, and during one of these longer breaks I decided to take a little trip down the Okanagan Valley into the Okanogan Valley, Washington State.
Okay, so this beer’s name is a bit of a mouthful, and the same could be said of its taste. But first of all I must tell the tale of how I became acquainted with this particular beer. Back in May 2010, while I was living in Gent, Belgium, I would periodically discover new cafés that piqued my interest and then binge visit them for a week or so after school. Often these visits would be undertaken alone, but I never found it difficult to enjoy one or two new Belgian beers by myself before heading home. Often though I would strike up a conversation with a fellow patron, or if none were available, with the bartender himself. For a while the Trollekelder in Gent was my favourite, and one afternoon whilst drinking a St. Idesbald Dubbel, I met a fellow traveller. His name was Alex; he was in his fifties, had a beard, and he was in Europe, “searching for signs of pre Roman history.” Oh, and he was from Australia. We discussed many things, chiefly beer and travelling, and before he left me he gave me a quest. He said, “Riley, there is one beer I insist that you must try in your life, and that is the Bamberg Smokebeer.” He went on to explain how he found it to be one of the most unique tasting beers on earth, and he believed that I would definitely profit by tasting it. I duly noted his recommendation in my journal, and life went on.
After two months of tree planting I am once again in the position to post somewhat regular blog updates. Like many people, I have been watching as much of the FIFA World Cup as I possibly can, and along with my blood allegiance to England, I took a fancy to Belgium’s team this year. Alas neither team is still with us, but for one brief afternoon Belgium helped me to a wonderful level of intoxicated bliss. That’s right; during Belgium’s Round of 16 battle with the United States I decided to drink Belgian beer until they lost, or if they won, until it was no longer a good idea. At the beginning of the match I poured myself a Rochefort 8. This delicious beer is one of the finest ales on earth, brewed by Trappist monks and extremely complex. I really ought to write a post about Trappist ales sometime, but suffice it to say for now that every Trappist is worth tasting. As they say in Belgium, “a Trappist a day keeps the doctor away!”