Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 8: Tongeren (Belgium) and Maastricht (Netherlands) - Chillax and Random

I am just waiting at Tongeren station waiting for a bus to take me to Maasricht, and thought, why not use this time to get down the experience I just had at Rambrant with a St Bernadus 10 on tap, a black pudding, and the owner (speaking to him made me miss the previous bus). The language barrier is a little offputting out of the major towns, but does bring you patience and makes me apologetic for making it a little harder for them. Still, they are very limber in there ability to change language very easily, and English is still common enough in these dutch regions of Belgium to allow us to communicate (thank god). The black pud was more subtle in flavour than what I thought it would be, so choice of beer was a bit too flavourful, but the pud with apple combo worked as it had before back in the tapas bar in melbourne. The owner let me look at his author signed copy of the 5th edition of the Beer Guide to Belgium, and another book going through many beers of the country. He took over the pub 20 years ago when the previous owner was about to sell to a developer who would have built apartments and so got rid of the oldest pub (1881)in the oldest town in Belgium. He left his office job to do it for one year, and here is still doing it. But he did say it was nearly over for him as he is 60 and is time to move on and retire to learn Spanish (he just likes the language and wants to live there). He also said his flavour in beers went from sweet darks to blonde bitters, which is interesting and good to see a developing palate. I could not offer much on the discussion of lambic sour beers, but he reckons Cantillon are pretty sour, and to get on a Boon Oude first. I told him I didn’t mind Faro’s and had tried a Cantillon Lou Pepe, but he said the Cantillon Oude was massive, so I am scared. Have enjoyed just looking around this town and being the only customer in the pub, and the owner was very nice to chat to me as I was finishing up lunch, so I don’t mind if I missed the previous bus. I am slowing down on the south side trip with less drinking and more chilling being the order. I have had trouble sorting out public transport, and not even sure if I can get the train to Jemelle tomorrow to get me close to Rochefort. Still, I am only by myself, so just have to look after me and see how I go. Was getting a little frazzled last night not being able to sort out today, but then Mick gave me the idea of heading into the Netherlands to Maasricht, which is suppose to be the oldest town in that country. So from one, to the other, and only a hour away. Think I have accommodation sorted for tonight, just need to find it when I arrive before going to Belgium/German/Dutch pubs, then tomorrow will focus on getting to Rochefort. In our time in brugge we found it has a beer weekend this weekend which would be good to get to, plus already know Kris up there, so see how things go. Have really had to size down the south part, but think it is definitely easier in the northern parts for tourists. Well, bus will be here soon, so better pack up this computer. Speak to you there...What a nice town this is. I won't bore this beer blog with nice medieval pics, but was nice to walk around for a few hours (well, while looking for a pub that did a La Trappe beer on tap). Found one in Kaffe De Joie is a little back lane. still had Guinness on tap, so not sure how independent it is (had the look of a british pub a bit). Still, they had the La Trappe Dubbel on tap and was able to get a Tosti Ham/Kaas.

So now I have drunk all the trappist beers in the world from within the country they are made. An unexpected success from the trip. There was a smell of cocoa and alcohol, and is mild in flavour with carbonation and alcohol over slight sweet malt and hops, but fairly cleansing finish. Some decent texture on the fore, but waters on the back of the tongue. The savory of the cheese and ham toasted sanga heightened the sweet of the beer. As well as Erdinger and Corona (insert gagging noise here, but only for the Corona), they also had a 'special beer' (125th Anniversary) of La Trappe (Isidor), so gave it a shot. Amber to ruby in colour and has a red beer smell and taste and alcohol is a bit strong. There is also a hint of honey.

Ok, so I ended up having a pint of Guinness, just so I can say I have had one in every country (will have to remember to have one when back in belgium). decent texture (creamy head but watery body) but definite bitterness that lingers in aftertaste. Not as dusty as what we get in OZ.

So after 6 hours in Netherlands my mind now wanders back to Belgium to see if I can get to my fave brewery in the country (Rochefort). Let's hope I am able to find a way there.

Tidings of Beer Guts and Chocolate Arses to you all,


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