All tagged brewery

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.

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.

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.

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.  

The Farmhouse's Ale

Memories of Argentina will forever drown me in the Impressional blur visioned through the bottom of a tumbler looking up at the dim bar light; then, with that image in mind, out the door into a warm evening or an incredibly frigid night, wearing a thick wool jacket, the rush of comfort and deep meaning overwhelm in inexplicable ebullience.  Argentina is a feeling for me.  A good one.  And I carry it as the Ford Ranger that carried us into the country: along winding roads; up steep switchbacks appearing to end catastrophically; climbing through quiet no man’s land under moonlight reflecting on ancient glaciers. I looked back at Chile to say farewell.  The landscape slowly turned from mountains to hills to rolling plains and finally to the piedmont, at the foot of the giants, where one looks west and sees the sun setting behind the elevated horizon hours before it would on the other side.  The arid landscape was noticeable even in the middle of the night, and I alternated between staring out the window and reading a book until finally I fell asleep.  I woke up to a change in the consistent flow of driving.  A stuttering pattern indicated we were entering a town and approaching our destination: Nikko's house and our bed for the next three nights.