One day after work my father and I scoured the cellars for a prime vintage of Belgian beer, with the intention to share it outside in our woodland. An especially aged bottle of the Cuvée De Ranke from Brouwerij De Ranke was retrieved from the darkness. With a pair of Leffe glasses in hand, we strode forth to quench our curiosity and our thirst!
For those of you who don’t know, I have received a two year visa for the UK, and I will soon be spending a lot of time exploring England, and perhaps eventually working in a pub. First though, I have returned to Belgium to visit some of my favourite people and cafés, not necessarily in that order. Going forward, you can expect my blog to become in part a travel blog, complemented by the usual drink reviews.
With my fellow Belgian exchange student friend James of Newfoundland visiting me for the first time in 5 years, it was merely a foregone conclusion that we would be drinking some Belgian beer… nearly every night. This led to the creation of Stamhuis Week, and more than a few good beers were consumed. On this particular night, we were joined by my father and my friend Gavin. We started off with some Hoegaarden, and it turned out to be the tone setter for a night full of tangy beers that were low on malt and low on hops. Sounds like a wheat beer night to me!
Every Pabst takes another little piece of my heart Turning it towards what I’ve got And away from what I’ve lost
Spinning the wheel of wax Hoping to win the whole ball of fortune So that one day I’ll meet someone better than you
While in Belgium, my goal of reaching 200 different Belgian beers tasted was becoming a reality. After a fast start though, my new intake slowed down, as I was caught up in the predictable pattern of reunions with friends and host families, often at their own place, on their own time, or on their own coin. This severely reduced my opportunities to try new beer, and though it is not something I begrudge them of in the slightest, it just meant that in the land of close to a thousand beer, I was running into a surprising challenge to try at least 16 new to me in about a week. I did however drink lots of old favourites when the opportunity presented itself, and that in itself was of course enjoyable.
On the day I was to leave, I headed to the train station, bound for Amsterdam, sitting on 197 career different Belgian beers. As I rode the train through Ghent, I decided that whatever the time delay, I would accomplish the milestone in Belgium, right now, at 12:30pm! Getting off at the last station in Ghent, Dampoort, I raced into town to begin my final adventure in Belgium of the trip.
In June 2013 I returned to Belgium for the first time since my exchange, and while I was there I quested to reach a total of tasting 200 different Belgian beers. My lifetime total upon arrival was 186, and I started out with a couple of days in Brussels to add to that. During my first full day on the town I tried 5 new beers, a grand start! On that day I visited the lovely cafe A La Mort Subite. With its Art Nouveau architecture, excellent beers and classic Bruxelloise vibe, I would recommend this cafe to anyone who visits Brussels.