All tagged beertrip

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.

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.

Breaking Rulles

Friday the 13th started with vegan breakfast and a morning read by the fire.  I reviewed the beer lineup and synopsis for La Rulles - the brewery visit for the day - between a few current events (or, more accurately, “The Real World: Real World Edition”).  Located in the Gaume region of Southeast Belgium, near the Semois River winding westward towards Bouillon and Godfrey’s castle, the brewery habituates a unique microclimate, always a few degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding Ardennes hills.  The quaint Belgian countryside, eleven in the morning, left two American wanders in silence.

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.

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.