All in Beer

Even Bier Smokes

As perfect as a day can be was underway.  In periphery, I could see countryside blur: lime-green grass and spring vegetables cracking dirt mounds; shadowy hardwoods budding and tall conifers starting to yellow with pollen; clouds lightly wisping otherwise vacant sky.  The Kloster Michelsberg first signaled our approach towards Bamberg.

Three Tallies, Three Kölsch

Just inside the door, Köbes, Kölsch bartenders in Köln, accumulated in the stone lined sallyport leading to the beer garden.  They turned in unison beginning an exaggerated process of grouchy inspection, head-to-toe. Suffering mild humiliation in a similar Kölsch beer hall (Malzmühle) a few hours before, we walked confidently past the aproned guardians of Päffgen towards the beer garden, masking our anxiety with scowls and grunts of salutation.  

Cantillon: Musty Lemons, Cobwebs, and Coolships

Our more knowledgeable beer friends mention Cantillon in the hushed tones of children peering over the banister on Christmas morning: a place and product sprinkled in magical dust.  Cantillon produces the best Lambic beers in the world. Walking down an unkempt street in southwestern Brussels, a sharp morning gust whipped magazine clippings and dirty napkins up on cresting waves.  We turned right, leaving the haggard block behind; one hundred feet beyond the turn, bottles awaited on pallets behind the open cargo hull of a delivery truck. The recumbent, guzzling jester of Cantillon branded each bottle and hung from a sheet metal punch-out above the door. The place appeared closed but the door opened.

Antwerpen Easy Drinkin'

In route to Antwerp from Brussels we detoured to the Trappisten, a roadside tavern across the street from the Westmalle Abbey.  Beneath a cloudless sky on the patio we sipped from chaliced Westmalle glasses: one golden, the other brown.  The brown was a mixture of the Triple and Dubbel (called a Trip-Trap), resulting in something between a Tripel, Dubbel, and Quadrupel.  Midday sun cut the Spring with Summertime.  The buds on leafless branches carried persistent remains of morning condensation.  They reflected tiny bulbs rising in columns toward the red-bricked wall surrounding Westmalle Abbey.

Framboise in the Park

Our first full day in Brussels turned into quite a success.  It was nice to not rush anywhere or worry about filling up the parking meter or driving all day.  The only determined activity was jazz and drinks at La Brocante - an iconic, old Brussels beer bar with a decent breakfast and lunch menu and fairly extensive beer list, long on Geuze and Kriek.  Sara waited for a table to open as I went to draw cash from the ATM down the street - long line, getting longer by the minute.  I returned to Sara drinking a Saison Dupont.  A moderate wind passed through the patio drenched in sun carrying spritz of rain drops from somewhere far away.  It was faint but enough for most everyone to look confused towards the bright sky blue.  We sat in wicker chairs sewed in a Parisian inspired shape - not surprising for a city speaking French first.  A gypsy jazz ensemble strung together from different corners of the street into a band of sorts for the hour.