The first Friday of each month brings together beer bloggers around a common topic under the banner of The Session. This month Belgian Smaak hosts, giving us the topic My First Belgian:
The rules are that there are no rules. There is incredible opportunity at your fingertips; whether it be to write about the first time you tried a Flemish red brown ale or the time you got your taste buds around a traditional Belgian witbier.
. . .
It doesn’t even have to be your ‘first’. You could use the Session title as a reference to a moment when after many years of drinking a particular Belgian beer your eyes were suddenly opened to its charm, whether that be down to the particular circumstances surrounding its consumption or a personal story you’d like to share.
Bending the rules a bit
I had a bit of serendipity: this past weekend I visited my brother in law in Cooperstown. Ommegang did not introduce me to Belgians: I think Saranac’s Wit claims that title. However, when I think about good, easy to find Belgian-style beer my mind often goes to them. That I visit frequently, thanks to my brother in law, certainly helps.
I had, regrettably, missed Belgium Comes to Cooperstown this year. Oh well: close enough.
I took the opportunity to order a flight of three beers: the first was their Scythe & Sickle, since although I had tried it in the past I suspected this year’s batch would have slight variations. It had a mild hop aroma, tasting both sweet and bitter: usually I find a beer has one or the other, but here the bitterness tasted sweet. An undercurrent of apples persisted.
I then moved on to Lindeman’s Cuvée Brut. Sure, Ommegang didn’t brew it, but as far as I could remember I hadn’t tried it before. It had a pleasantly sour aroma, with the flavor almost entirely sour cherries. I liked it quite a lot, even if it did stand with much of Lindemans’ offerings in the blurry heliosheath at the edge of the definition of what constitutes a beer.
My wife does not like beer. I generally say that beer has so many variations, such a broad range of tastes, that you can’t dislike “beer.” You merely haven’t yet found the beer for you. After years of trying and a few hundred beers sampled I eventually admitted that my wife just does not like beer.
Since then we had discovered two beers she’d tolerate: Duchesse De Bourgogne and our own Mister Superfantastisch. I had her try the Brut, and we found a third! She even ordered a glass of it for herself, which the waiter offered to serve on the rocks. My sister in law, similarly only a fan of sours, came back from a trip a fan of their Fruitesse which she also inexplicably poured over ice despite my outraged protestations.
And then we ate
One of the bad things about having kids comes up when you go out: suddenly we had to buy four entrées. Since we planned to make an afternoon out of it to we also ordered their frites to share, and then the mac and cheese after we saw another table’s dish.
One of the good things about having kids, at least as kids as fickle as mine, comes when suddenly you have more food to eat! I ordered a ham, fontina, gouda and bleu cheese crepe with a side of carrot and bleu cheese soup. I like bleu cheese. Sue me. But then my daughter didn’t eat her hot dog, which tasted great with extra whole grain mustard left over from the frites. Inexplicably, neither of them touched the pistachio butter and jelly waffles, which, gods damn tasted good.
By the end I changed my mind: eating leftovers sounded like fun but ultimately became a curse. I ate as much as two or three reasonable adults would have.
Two final beers
I chose Hop House as the final beer in my flight: somehow I hadn’t tried it in the past. I described the aroma as “interesting,” featuring characteristics I just couldn’t place. They greeted me again in the flavor: hops, but a different sort. I couldn’t get the association with lotion out of my head: it might not sound appealing, but much like “horse blanket” it worked.
Since I found myself eating for a small family I had time to order another beer, and chose the Abbey Ale. Caramel and dark fruit assaulted me in the way an old friend slaps you on the back in greeting. I hadn’t known it before, but it became completely obvious: I held my favorite Ommegang beer in my hand.
My first Belgian did not come from Ommegang, no. But many of them have, and many more will in the future.