All tagged beer

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.

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.  

A Drink in Season

Spring written in bold, underlined, all-capped looks limp compared to European reality this year.  Pines bobbed and oaks shuddered with the passing wind, shaking yesterday’s rain; in amphibian metamorphosis, their buds grew visibly larger each passing day under the lengthening light of mid-Spring.  Afar, the blooming color powdered the landscape in an Impressionistic blur.  But up close, driving along hairpins and welcomed straightaways, the sun lucidly explained the detailed edges and specks and differences.  Like a solar eclipse, the leaves bent the ecclesiastic power of the sun and left nothing but a blindingly white, broken trace at its perimeter; that remaining light still managed to draw my moving penumbra against the asphalt winding the Walloon wilderness en route to Durbuy.

*Video* Beers at Altitude

With so many places, photos, and videos we are never caught up on editing! We have hundreds of hours of video footage, and I figured it was about time to learn how to edit and produce. I spent some time on the train in Germany this week assembling our first video. Recently, we had an awesome day hike in the Swiss Alps, which provided the perfect opportunity to document through a short length video. I think it captures our time better than the photos we took did. It's an amateur attempt, so let me know your thoughts!  Do you prefer video, photos, or a bit of both?? 

Gold in Trout

I sometimes see the signs of Spring: the pollenated ground; a lonely green leaf on a tree; flapping wings of birds building nests; tadpoles congregating in illusions across a pond.  Winding downhill in a maturing canopy of foliage, I downshifted to cut the personal effort, passing the burden down the line and straight to the transmission.  Far south in the Luxembourg Province of Wallonia, just north of the French border, forest yields to field.  Brown sheep sporting dreadlocks chomped the young, short grass situated within ancient and sturdy polished stone walls.  Ochre colored sandstone, the “pierre de France,” rose from the grass in walls, belfries, and arched sally ports.  Vines climbed in symmetry on the walls of an old guesthouse.  In the background flashes of red maple buds added to the palette as the Spring day fought vestiges of Winter.  A trout, lips pursed upon a golden ring, embossed the keystone of the entryway arch leading to Orval Monastery.

A Belgian Blonde in Limburg

Comparing our arrival in Belgium to that in Mexico six months ago paints the canvas in black and white.  

In Mexico: we landed in Oaxaca at 10 PM, at an abandoned airport where everything and everyone lived in Spanish; Sara and I shared a seat on the bus (a van) burgeoning with bags and humans; we rode down dark dirt roads chasing stray dogs through the maze of wire fences and graffitied buildings; we bumped along for 1.5 hours to move 20 miles; last to leave the bus, we nervously walked with our 50 pound packs along a one light street searching for a red door and our home for the next month.  

In Belgium: we landed around noon; the airport, clean and streamlined, seemed designed for efficiency; our rental car was waiting, we purchased a SIM card next to the rental car office, and had the option to do it all in English, Dutch, or French; we drove down the Autobahn to Zutendaal for a week-long house-sit; at the drive-way, the gate opened and our hosts greeted us, showed us around and introduced us to a dog, two cats, and two horses; we walked the dog down narrow paths through the woods in the failing light, sat on the couch with wool socks and radiant heat building, made room for the dog by our feet, and looked out the window at a Whitetail bounding as the evening drizzle pattered on the skylights, sounding like static on a record.

Chicha in Lima

Desert silence at the edge of light's end is both exhilarating and terrifying.  Watch the sun disappear in that place and you will know the darkness of death: the black of Day One; the space beyond singularity, outside the light of known Universe; a port-a-john at a combat outpost in the middle of Afghanistan under clouded skies and a New Moon.  Two days into a four day bus ride from Puerto Montt, Chile to Lima, Peru - with a cracked throat, perceivable layer of plaque build-up, axel-greasy hair, checked-bags under eyes - and these kinds of Jim Morrison, acid thoughts started to cross my mind as I stared into a grain of sand upon a rock in the Atacama out the bus window, sitting in my sweaty, damp seat and breathing in the stale breath and farts of 50 other people.  Most of the time a situation isn't as bad as I picture it in my head; this bus ride fell into that other category.  It was in that category of "never again." Having a full bladder while wearing a tight parachute harness in turbulence represents a similar level of agony.  Desert occupied in front and on the periphery from Santiago to Lima for three straight days.  Needless to say, arriving in Lima provided a literal breath of fresh air, a shower, and a much needed full night's sleep in a completely horizontal position.

Riding the Patagonian Wave

The wide open landscapes of Chilean Patagonia beckoned us from Argentina.  In the wild but within city limits we looked forward to quieter nights with fewer street lights.  Our friend Tony claimed since last July that he planned to meet up in Patagonia; despite his commitment and persistence, his appearance in the flesh at the Bariloche airport still surprised us.  The airline losing his bags and not ours came as no surprise: an indoctrination into the chaos and unpredictability rampant south of the border.  We thought Murphy, already exhausted with us, had moved onto Tony.  That hypothesis proved very wrong.  If only the Universe was so logical, life could be more predictable; but alas, it is not; and, instead, we get excitement, confusion, pain, and the promise of discovery.  We certainly got more than we bargained for in Patagonia and became increasingly aware of our infinitely small part in it.  At some point, coming to this realization, you begin to roll with the punches.  I’m always surprised how short term this knowledge proves to be and how quickly you go back to controlling.

Stranger Things in Buenos Aires

I watched the lightning strike outside and a streetlight turn on through a candle in the foreground.  The thunder rumbled, the sky lit up, and the clouds opened, releasing the rain in sheets. Remaining dry in our new AirBNB in Buenos Aires, the window played all this like a television.  Buenos Aires is the most cosmopolitan city in South America.  What I found amazing was the juxtaposition of European ambiance with a bold Argentinian twist.  Timeless Renaissance and Classical European buildings house large Argentinian grills cooking Choripan in a cloud of smoke; taxi drivers maintain conversation with each other through the open windows of their cabs while roaring down wide French boulevards at dangerous speeds; unmeasured South American chaos wears away at the sharp European edge.  It’s a coin at the heart with lots of European polish on one side; but the other, more interesting, ragged, and unique, still falls face up half the time.  

Kolsch Before Malbec

When you look back to yesterday you start to deduce how little you know right now.  I’m looking into the coals of a fire and at the fluttering light and I’m looking at my own time.  I can feel the heat reflecting off the fire bricks and onto my cheek as I watch the coals rapidly change in color during my mental trip back in time.  At this moment they seem to hold all the answers - or at the very least, enough to satisfy my oxygen deprived brain (I’ve been sitting here for a hot minute).  Fire is the theme in Argentina, and I will continue it now: from the fire of Asado to the brew kettles of two breweries in San Luis, Argentina, boiling the ancient wort discovered by ancestors forgotten.