07 April 2012

Beers in Belgium

Well it's about time I talked about beer! 

I need to get straight to the best story of the day. Kristina and I headed to Brugge this morning. We roamed around the morning open air market in t'Zand square eating (yes again) a bag of fresh hot waffles we bought from a vender for €1.50.  I posed the days challenge to Kristina - okay, we are here to eat waffles, friets, and have a few excellent Belgian beers. Kristina looked at me like I was nuts, it was only 10:30 in the morning, and she was far more interested in the architecture at this early hour. 

An hour later we entered De Garre, a wonderful small bierhuis down a small alley off the Markt square in the center of town. The entrance appeared unassuming, we looked at each other, might as well go in. We found a small table upstairs and opened the menu to a dream list of Belgian brews. This would require some time to study. We decided to order two of the house beers which were delivered with a small plate of cheese. We began the process of slowly sipping, instantly feeling comfortable. 
Appreciating the loud laughter from a round table of 8 Belgians next to us, I noticed the couple to our right taking a photo of each other and offered to take a picture of the two of them. Here is where the story gets awesome - would you believe the guy at the next table was Ken Petroski who makes beer for New Belgium brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado! He was in Belgium on "work," to taste beers, along with his girlfriend Jaye.

We began to chat and soon another couple from San Francisco, Kyle and Colleen, came over to introduce themselves and asked if they could join us at our table. We all decided to move to the larger table which the laughing Belgians had just vacated. Soon our laughter easily matched theirs and Kristina couldn't believe we were now having as much fun as the group she had been admiring earlier. I haven't laughed so much in the form of pure simple enjoyment of spending a random afternoon in Brugge tasting beer in a long time. Wait, I've never spent a random afternoon in Brugge drinking beer in laughter. It was FUN. 

It was also Ken's idea to order a number of different beers so we could all try a taste. Can you imagine having a Brewmaster (who had arrived in Belgium that same morning) selecting your next beer for you? Can you imagine receiving the most well-presented lesson in how beer is made siting in a bar serving what many would argue are the best beers in the world (well besides New Belgium beers, in case Ken is reading this post)? That was our great day in Belgium today.

Of course you want to know some of the beers we tasted - right? A Triple Karemeliet, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Orval, Palm, Boon Kriek, this was after all Belgium, so all of us had sample the house specialty - a Triple van de Garre
Did you know that New Belgium's Fat Tire Beer is modeled after Palm? That is correct according to Ken. I liked the Rodenbach Grand Cru best, although we all liked the Triple Karemeliet, and the Boon Kriek was delicious. All of these beers tasted so much better here in Belgium with the laughter and the perfect atmosphere.
Of course you want to know if the story ended happily - right? Yes it did, because we also found our best friets yet (in Markt square, from the vendor on the left, for those in the know). 
Other images from Brugge (Bruges): click any image to enlarge
every beer has it's own glass shape
Ken leaving de Garre, what a fun day!
Cambrinus in Bruges reportedly serves Westvleteren 12 !
Tomorrow the Paris-Roubaix. Happy Easter everyone!

I'd also like to send a very special Happy Birthday to my brother Michael who is presently traveling in China and celebrated a very "big" birthday this week. Wish you were here - be sure to find coverage of the Paris-Roubaix while in China. We hope to be in the Arenberg Forest tomorrow, a day have long-awaited as a fan. go Boonen! go George!

George Hincapie (BMC) and Frederic Guesdon (FDJ-Big Mat) will be lining up for their 17th Paris-Roubaix tomorrow. Good luck men. 

The rider roster startlist and links for live viewing of the Paris-Roubaix can be found on Steephill.TV/Paris-Roubaix. Or read more information on the P-R at the end of this Pedal Dancer post: Update on the Classics

We will be there:
Début de secteur pavé de la Trouée d'Arenberg (16)VC  85.5  172.0  13:26  14:25  14:37  14:51