Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I MUST RETURN TO BELGIUM!

Can a snark do pundit-blogging? Here's my first attempt to emulate Martin's blogging style! Perhaps the result will be an interesting hybrid.... Enjoy!

Will Martin return from Hungary with unfinished business? I hope not. As for me, my one and only trip to Belgium was marked by a serious omission: I failed to spend some time in Brussels!

[Editor's note: The author of this post is pictured here just after his return from Belgium.]

A couple of years ago, I merrily embarked on the long journey from beer snob to beer connoisseur. This journey goes straight through Belgium, but my last trip to Europe five years ago occurred before I knew what a great beer country it is! (What rock did I live under? BudMiller.) I am particularly interested in sampling beers of the lambic style. (Note: You may find that the style is an acquired taste. My advice: Acquire it!) Famed beer critic Michael Jackson describes the style below.

The winiest of all the world's beers, and specific to the Brussels area. There are several possible explanations for the odd name (which is spelled in a variety of ways), but its most likely origin is the small town of Lembeek ("Lime Creek"), to the immediate southwest of Brussels, in the heart of the producing area. A handful of breweries around Lembeek, Beersel and Schepdaal, all in the valley of the river Zenne, have persisted with techniques that pre-date the culturing of yeasts. Their brews are of the type seen in Bruegel's paintings, and represent the oldest style of beer readily found in the developed world. Lambic beers gain their tartness from a content of at least 30 per cent raw wheat in addition to the more usual malted barley, but their defining characteristic is the use of wild yeast. This "wild," or "spontaneous," fermentation imparts the distinctive acidity.

It may be a long time before I have the opportunity to make a beer tour of Brussels and vicinity. But then, if I attempt to brew a lambic style beer myself, the wait may be comparable! Until then, I can at least find Lindeman's at Spec's and The Ginger Man.

-- CAV