Reading: Lots and lots of romance novels. Hey, I am only FOUR days, yes 1-2-3-4, into my summer and I just really needed a quick escape right now. I have Delicious Foods waiting in the wings–I’ve actually started it twice but then not done any reading immediately after that (heh). I’ll probably (re)start it next week.
Watching: For some reason I started rewatching The Office (US) last week. It’s amazing how fast one can burn through a series one has watched before. I mean each episode is only 20 minutes long, you can easily sit down to open your mail and hello three hours just went by.
Listening to: Kick-ass girls: the latest albums from Taylor Swift, Kate Tempest, SOAK, Madonna. Also some really sad stuff like Sufjan’s Carrie & Lowell, my god people don’t listen to that without a fresh supply of kleenex. I also spent some time yesterday listening to Obama’s speech in SC and wishing he had been that president all 8 years.
Eating: Still on a major egg kick, as I have been all year. Fried, scrambled, omeletted, hard-boiled. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. When is an egg not what I want? Almost never.
Drinking: Really happy to have Ruby Redbird back for the summer. Also liking Stealin’ Time.
Knitting: I actually got back to knitting over spring break but it’s gone by the wayside once again. I have a looooong February Scarf in progress and a pair of socks…and I’m hoping I get motivated to knit again soon.
Quilting: So many plans.
Sewing: And many plans here as well. Hopefully soon!
Beers I May Have Later Tonight
- Unibroue Ephemere – My #2 beer of Summer 2008.* Tastes like apple. Yum.
- Triple Karmeliet – My favorite Belgian beer. From my trip last summer. As you may know.
- Allagash Dubbel – From Portland, Maine. It’s OK. Interesting Enough.
- Shiner Spezial Light – The “light” version of Shiner “Bock.” I prefer Bock, but this is what’s in the fridge.
- Cantillon Gueze – Belgian. Sour.
- Orval – Belgian. Trappist.
- Bells Amber Ale – I don’t love this. But I’ve had four beers already, I’m sure it’ll taste fine.
- Pilsner Urquel – Yum.
*My #1 beer of summer 2008 was Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. As you may know
**Because that’s what’s in the fridge to choose from.
The “Budweiser” equivalent in Belgium is pretty much standard “lager” = so that’d be Stella Artois, Jupiler, Maes. (Boring, but I do love Stella myself. But it’s not all that “flavorful” of beer, I would admit.)
Next up are what they call “White Beers” but are pretty much “Wheat” beers to us. Often served with a slice o’ lemon. Hoegarden, obviously. And in Brugs, there’s a beer there called “Brugs Tarwebier” from De Gouden Boom. I’m sure ‘t Brugs Beertje probably serves it. 😉
I would say the next level “up” from that would be the Golden Ales or “Abbey Beers”. Referred to as “strong amber ales”. Supposed to be “dense” and “creamy” / but they’re not heavy or chocolate-y (or stout-y) like the next categories we will get to. Probably the most liked here is Duvel but that one brewery in Bruges (De Halve Maan) makes one called Straffe Hendrik Blonde that was pretty good. And I LOVED this beer called “Triple Karmeliet” but Wes probably wouldn’t like it because it’s pretty sweet! Yum! 🙂 I think Leffe goes in this category also, as well as Maredsous and Grimbergen (I don’t remember trying those two).
Next are the Trappist beers (all made by Trappist monasteries). These are all super malt-y and strong to me / I’m not really a fan. Chocolate-y / dark / heavy. But the friend I went to Belgium with was pretty much all about these. She LOVED Orval. There are 6 trappist monasteries, most make more than one beer although Orval only makes one: Westmalle, Westvletern, Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort. Westvleteren is IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND because apparently they only sell once a year now or something crazy. We tried to get it everywhere even at very high-falutin beer pubs and we couldn’t find it. But Westmalle‘s beer production was actually started by some dude who used to work at Westvleteren so they’re pretty comparable I would think. They make both Double (Dubbel) and Triple. Achel (4, 5, 6, 8) Tracy thought was “OK” but didn’t seem that blown away by. Rochefort is super strong (the “6” is deep amber”, the 8 is super dry and the 10 is redbrown and “full on flavor” according to our book). (The higher the #, generally, the higher the alcohol content.) Chimay’s beers are labeled by color instead of number. “red” – 7% alcohol, “white” – 8% it’s not as dark but it’s kinda bitter and “blue” = 9%.
The other thing in Belgium is “Lambic” beers or “gueuze” which is this total old style beer. Now the REAL old style stuff is pretty much all made by “Cantillon“. [I mean, there are other places that make it besides Cantillon but I can’t remember their names! Cantillon you can go to the brewery of in Brussels. It’s cool. Very tiny.] It’s super super sour, kind of like sour lemonade mixed with beer. Even the ones w/ fruit in them (which is called “Kriek” and has cherry or raspberry added) are still super super sour. HOWEVER, a ton of places make sort of “commercial imitations” of lambic and gueuze which are super sweet so they’re not real gueuze but some are sooo good. There’s a bar in Brussels that has its own beer (that you can also buy at other pubs) called Mort Subite and I drank Mort Subite Gueuze a LOT while we were there. Sooooooo yummy (very sweet!). But no real beer connoisseur would ever drink the stuff. 🙂 If something says “Aud Gueuze” it MIGHT be the old-style sour stuff. If it just says “Gueuze” and is NOT by Cantillon, then it’s probably the commercialized sweet stuff.
“Rodenback” is a “flemish red” beer. I thought these all tasted a lot like wine (super thick dark rich wine) so I avoided them like the plague! 🙂 But Tracy liked “Rodenbach Grand Cru” which apparently ages in a cask for 20 months or something ridiculous.
Beer recommendations — hmm. If your friends are coming to London, then I’d recommend anything by the Fullers brewery — the one I suggested to your dad is called London Pride (it is a bitter beer, so quite dark and strong-tasting) but they do a wheat beer called Discovery, one called Honeydew as well — both of those are very nice. You’ll usually find them in bottles rather than draught/tap.
Here in the UK there is a weird system where the majority of pubs are tied to a particular brewery so they can only sell that brewery’s beer. So there are some pub chains where the beer isn’t that great — Wetherspoons pubs are generally to be avoided, they are nasty, and Sam Smiths’ pubs are often cheap but the beer tastes cheap as well.
Or there is always cider. Last summer it was very trendy to drink cider out of bottles (magners or Bulmer) with ice — a bit weird, no?
I would recommend to your friends to check out a website called Beer in the Evening. It has good pub reviews, maps, etc. I’d trust it, for sure ..
Well, my favourites are:
- Timothy Taylor ‘Landlord’ bitter (that’s the one your dad had)
- Oakham ‘JHB’
- Deuchars ‘IPA’
- Crouch Vale ‘Brewers Gold’
- Fullers ‘London Pride’, ‘Discovery’ or ‘Honey Dew’
- Hopback ‘Summer Lightening’
- The whole range of Meantime beers (brewed in Greenwich)
There are so many though, and lots of smaller regional breweries. If they are REALLY interested in beer, the best book is the Good Beer Guide, available in most bookshops!