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your heart with stories of compassion
“This is your beer god speaking! I have heard your prayers for good beers and breweries, and I’m answering them! Even though only third in rank on the Belgian beer sampling competition, I am the highest in rank that also hosts couch surfers. Finishing entering my beer sampling notes from last year, I clocked in at 1838 beers sampled in 2015. <Cartman voice>Who wants to touch me. I said who wants to freaking touch me!!! </cartman voice>. (Man, I hope you get the reference, or this sounds really stupid. :p)
I shall grant you one brewery visit, IF you are able to meet my requests. The day of the visit is February 15th. It is the day that I turn 33, so I refuse to work on that day, as I always have done since my first employment. Instead I shall be driving towards… brace yourselves… Westvleteren! If you have not heard of the name, you google it right now. I said, now! I’ll wait…. There you go. Are you not impressed!? 🙂
Well, if you’re not, then you shall be if you learn that the main reason of our visit lays 4km further, through the fields, in Oostvleteren. What is in Oostvleteren, you wonder? Oh, I don’t know, only like the best, most innovative, inspiring brewery in Belgium, maybe? Struise Brouwers! (Yeah, yeah, I’ll wait while you Google that.) Here’s a little secret: in the ratebeer.com list of 100 best beers in the world in 2015, they have no less than 5 entries! Boom – mic drop!”
The night that we arrived, he made grilled cheese sandwiches with Orval-soaked shrimp (served with Orval) and served us new beer after new beer while we both rated them on our respective beer-rating sites. This was already heavenly for me. But the next day was even better. At Brouwerij De Plukker, we were given sample after sample of beer while learning all about organic hop farming from a man whose family has been growing hops for generations. He tested our hop knowledge by serving us two beers with the same recipe but one had Cascade hops from the states and the other had his Cascade hops. (In case you’re wondering, I guessed correctly.) Next up was Westvleteren. All of the beer snobs out there will hate me for this, but I’ll just say it anyways—this was the least exciting brewery of the day. First off, we weren’t able to visit the brewery since it’s a monastery, just the café. Additionally, I’ve had Westvleteren 12 before when it was aged and it’s not nearly as good fresh. All in all, I just felt like a total tourist. The sacred experience was waiting in line for Tim to pick up his two crates of Westvleteren—even the sky itself opened up (and poured on us for just one minute) while we were waiting in line. The highlight of the day—and most of my month in Belgium, in fact—was Struise Brouwerij. Tim personally knows the owner and brewmaster, so we received the all-star treatment. He had nearly 20 beers on tap ranging from oak-aged sours to 39% ABV eisbocks. He’s as knowledgeable of a beermaster as they come and that’s evident in each and every one of his beers. In fact, this is my new favorite brewery. I didn’t want to ever leave—at least not until I tried all of the beers.
Hello friend, my name is Laura and I'm a caregiver in "early retirement," hitchhiking around the world. I made this blog to keep me on track of my goal, to give and ask for help everyday--and to inspire others to do the same. As the sort of person who used to refuse even the simplest of help, this is a trying task. But the rewards are greater than you could imagine. Click here to learn more or contact me at Laura.Shiley@Gmail.Com