Monday, December 7, 2015

Equal opportunities for all...

I recently wrote about our three day visit with les vignerons independent.  Wine is good.  Wine is great.  Wine keeps the ship upright and sailing smoothly in the right direction.  But there's more to life than just wine.


What's not to love?  More complex carbohydrates than wine.  This gives beer a sense of volume and complex taste.  It's sometimes brewed by drunken monks.  You know the ones.  Those who were chased out of France by the Revolutionaries during the 1789 King Removal.  While their religion was revolting to the Revolutionaries, the beer... well... it's really hard to fault them on their beer making abilities, no matter what country the drunken monks land in.

It's rather like Christmas every time I head over into the 14eme.  The kind Beer Gods and Goddesses seem to have something interesting to sample each and every time I go in.  This time is no different.  Belgiums.  Belgiums.  Belgiums as far as the eye can see.  That's where all the French Beer Making Religious Types escaped to shortly after the Bastille was torn down to make way for a vast roundabout (c.1789) with a pole called the July Column stuck in the middle (c.1840).

In the interests of Equal Opportunities for All, this week's segment could have been more properly titled What's In Mr. Caddy?

Who's Mr. Caddy, you might ask.  Well, he's our trusted friend and confident.  He's been with us for nearly four years and is by our side through thick and thin.  He's what we haul our groceries and purchased items in.  He's what I use to carry the empties back to the beer shoppe for a recycle refund.  He's what I use to bring another Month Of Happiness back.  Very French, Mr Caddy is.  He's required, actually.  Where Americans have cars to haul things in, the French have these little caddys.

So... what's in Mr. Caddy this week?  Well, let's have a look, shall we?

This trip saw me choosing a few triple and quadruple fermented brews.  I also selected a few porters and stouts.  These are nothing like the American beers that go by similar names.  The Belgium porters and stouts are Real Beers.  Nothing less than 7percent ETOH, and many times several degrees more than that.  Real Rocket Fuel, this stuff.  And their taste is fantastic.  I also selected a couple bruns (brown) and several Winter Warmers (lightly spiced beers).

I've become something of a Beer Snob.  While likely to be a little different that a Wine Snob, it's still Snobbery.  So I have to admit to it.  There.  I've done my Confession.  OK?  What form does my Snobbery take?  None of this "Brewing Since 1983" for me.  No siree, Babo.  I want the Real Thing.  The oldest brewer I'd found imported to Paris from Belgium dated from 10-something-or-other.  I thought that was really neat and crowed to my American friends at having found something old and tasty.  Old is good in my Beer Snobbery Book.  The oldest is the best.

As is my habit I asked if there was something new (to the shoppe) and tasty I needed to try.  The Beer Folk guided me to something called l'Abbaye d'Alune.  There were three types of brew on offer and I picked up several of each for a thorough sampling and tasting.

A short history of l'Abbaye is that it started as a Benedictine monastery and converted to the Cistercian order 400 years later.  It's anyones guess as to whether it was a bloodless take-over or not.  I guess what happened after that was rather wild and wooly at times.  This included the destruction of the original monastery by French Revolutionary Guards in 1794 and the Last Monk dying in 1850-something (may he RIP).

Fast forward to the present time and what we have is a bunch of lay folk who took the original three or four recipes for monks beer and restarted the fermentation processes.  All I needed to do was crack open the first bottle to know this was truly something special.  The second type I tried was better than the first.  The third type I tried nearly rose me up into the heavens.  Monks beer can do that, right?

Any guesses as to when those Drunken Monks first started brewing?  Looking at the bottles when I got home caused my jaw to drop.  We have a new winner.  Anno 657 it said.   Old is good, right?  In this case it's brilliant!  Or so me-thinks.  Golly these are old recipes.  They're nearly 1400 years in the perfecting.


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