Beer Here and Beer There
This is blog entry about drinking beer here, and drinking beer there.
Beer Here (Austin, Texas)
I went to the Austin ZEALOTS' (my homebrew club's) Christmas party this weekend. It's been a good year to be a ZEALOT and we had a great party to celebrate. Our Primary Fermenter, Corey Martin, and his wife, Angela, host the party every year at their house in Round Rock.
For the past several years (eight now?), there has also been a chili cook-off associated with party and this year the competition drew 29 entrants. (How much electricity does it take to run 29 Crock Pots, I wonder?) Everyone at the party had the opportunity to try each of the dishes and vote on their favorite three. This year there were a lot of interesting chilis in the mix, but the winners were pretty much straight up Texas chilis (meat, no beans), and insanely good.
I'm not sure how many kegs of homebrew were present . . . but it was a bunch. Our Viking multi-tap board, which we use at club events and holds 11 taps, was full as well as Corey's kegerators, some portable kegerators as well as some stray kegs. And there were some tasty beers in the mix. Corey had the Munich lager that he won the Sam Adams Longshot contest with on tap. The most interesting beer of the evening was probably the coffee beer made by Dave Ebel and Keith Bradley. Served through a Randall of coffee beans and vanilla beans, it had a wonderfully enticing coffee aroma.
As always, there were a lot of spontaneous "verticals," as people broke out old commercial beers. And, club member Mike Simmons actually brought eight (I think) different types of honey for the meadmakers in the group to taste and compare.
In all, another great ZEALOTS Christmas party capping a great year for the club — we won both the Bluebonnet (Dallas) and the Dixie Cup (Houston) on the way to winning the Lone Star Circuit. Plus, the whole nation will be drinking ZEALOT beer when Sam Adams releases this year's Long Shot beers.
Finally, here's a picture of party host and ZEALOT Primary Fermenter (club president) Corey. What are we doing in Corey's garage with a funnel full of Cascade hops? Let's just say it's a cherished ZEALOTS tradition and not worry too much about the details.
Beer There (Turnout, Belgium)
As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I went to Belgium this summer. BYO's publisher (Brad Ring) took Kiev Rattee (our advertising director) and me there as a reward for 10 years of service to BYO. And it was awesome.
In later blogs, I'll run down all of the highlights. We toured some classic breweries, some old breweries and some brand new breweries. I'll also be writing a story for BYO on Belgian Tripel, including some information I got when we toured Westmalle Trappist Brewery.
For this entry, I just want to describe a beer cafe we went to one afternoon in Turnout, Belgium. On our trip, we certainly went to trendier beer cafes (including Moeder Lambic) and cafes with much larger selections (2004 beers on the menu at Cafe Delerium), but this cafe — In Den Spytighen Duvel — was one of my favorite "little" moments on the trip.
In Den Spytighen Duvel was a fairly small place, with a rustic interior. Not surprisingly, the walls were covered with old beer posters and related items. The beer list wasn't huge, but what they did have was good stuff — and certainly way more than we could have worked our way through in an afternoon. (And, like a lot of places we went, not everything on the beer list was available right then.)
As with every beer bar in Belgium, when you ordered a beer, it came in the glassware from the brewery. We had a few beers there and it was a nice, relaxing afternoon. It was nice to be somewhere where people took beer seriously, but without excessive affectation.
Across the street from Spytighen Duvel was this club. I thought that was funny.
I know I've been dragging my feet about posting the details of my Belgium trip, but it's still fresh in my mind. (I'm still telling people, "I just got back from Belgium," and probably will under next summer.) I'll get to the brewing and insanely cool stuff later, but today I just wanted to recall sitting in a Belgian beer cafe in the middle of the day, enjoying a fresh Duvel and appreciating how good beer can really make everything nicer than it would ordinarily be.
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