Beer Haiku Friday, Belgian Beers and Tintin (or is it Asterix?)

I could not resist adding in what I consider to be the best beer-themed Haiku about the recent State of the Union address. For local readers, a tall boy is a large container of beer. The poem is called “Dashing my hops“:

State of the Union
Flung my tallboy at the screen
Hops spring eternal

The latest Malthouse blog is about Belgian beers and Tintin. It replaces the earlier version which utilised Asterix who unfortunately is and always has been French. It is (re-) titled “Belgium’s biggest resurgance since Tintin: Destination Moon“:

The tiny kingdom of Belgium has for centuries produced many memorable, distinctive and often unique beer styles. One of the very last nations to succumb to the ubiquitous allure of lagers, Belgian beer has always been a bit special. Their artisan brewers feel free to use ancient techniques long abandoned by other producers, never hesitate to throw in ingredients which would petrify mainstream brewers and think nothing of lifting the strength of their beers by a couple of percent.

Glass Tips – Beer Haiku Daily and Malthouse Blog

Big Beer News – Belgium’s biggest resurgence since Asterix and the Big Fight and the New Biggest Beer in the World

The latest Malthouse blog features a range of wonderful, magical characters including Orval, Westmalle, Asterix, Maredsous, Obelix and the Playful Chouffes of the Ardennes. It is titled “Belgium’s Biggest Resurgance since Asterix and the Big Fight“:

As a young beer neophyte, I would read books – surprisingly common activity in those pre-easy internet days – in which various great and good beer writers described Orval has having a distinct aroma of “sweaty horse blanket.” The concept seemed ludicrous. Surely even the most ostentatious wine scribe would hesitate to use such a descriptor, particularly if they wanted readers to actually try the beverage.

One exploratory sniff of my first Orval demonstrated that not only did it smell exactly like a heavy cloth which had been extensively worn by a perspiring example of the genus equine, but that it was absolutely delicious in doing so.

In startling beer news, Tactical Nuclear Penguin’s tenure as the strongest beer in the world (32%) might be short-lived with Schorschbock claiming an unbelieveable 40% ABV. It is a lager from German craft brewer Schorschbrau. Schorschbock is produced through Schorschbrau’s own proprietary fermentation process. It includes a rarely-used method for producing ice bock, supplemented by extended cold-lagering for a minimum of six months.

Glass Tip – Malthouse Blog and the Morning Advertiser.

Beerly Tasting: It’s been too long

Always the biggest tasting session of the year, Belgian Beers at Cellar-Vate:

While some of the 45 keen people packed in the Cabinet Room at the Backbencher may have been marking the national day of Belgium, I suspect more were attracted by a top notch beer list from the land known as “the paradise of beer”. The fact that there was only one beer under 8% did not seem to put any one off!

Tonight I ran a tasting at Statistics New Zealand on what turned out to be a (surprisingly) stunning Wellington evening:

It was also lucky that was it was the people in this organisation who were asked to equally share seventeen bottles of “The Hef” between 36 tasters. That would have stumped many less arithmetical organisations.

Finally, beer makes it to writer and photographer Adrienne Rewi’s blog!

Beerly Writing for Early August

The three articles today were all published in Salient, the Victoria University weekly newspaper.

The first previews the Monteith’s Beer and Wild Food Challenge in Wellington:

Most people are basically familiar with the rudimentary concepts of wine matching. At a primal level, we generally know that white wine goes with fish, red wine goes with game. This may even be true – I have no idea. Even those who genuinely have no clue tend to believe they can bluff it and come up with an elaborate explanation of why their warm cask of Chateau le Hutt is, in fact, a perfect match for the reheated remains of last night’s Kebab of Shame.

The next covers my favorite National Day after St Andrews Day, Nationale Feestdag:

More than just a chance to toast the Belgian monarchy, Nationale Feestdag is an excuse to settle down and sample some of the very best beers from the land sometimes called “the paradise of beer.” The 120 Belgian breweries use traditional craft techniques to produce beers of exceptional quality from centuries-old brewing recipes. New Zealanders have developed quite a taste for Belgian beer and we consume more than our fair share.

Finally, a hard-hitting expose of my trip to the West Coast as Monteith’s Turns 140:

This week, I’d like to focus on two new beers from the good people at Monteith’s. Now, I have to stress that the fact they flew me to the West Coast to enjoy two days of their most generous hospitality has absolutely not influenced my feelings towards these simply marvelous libations.

The Salient Points about Beer

This column on budget beers prompted a letter to the editor suggesting I could not handle the strength of Flame beer:

Sometimes an exasperated student will lean back in their chair, close their state-of-the-art laptop, take out their iPod nano earplugs, put their designer sunglasses on top of their head, take a big swig of V, move their pack of cigarettes, adjust their label t-shirts, put their box-fresh trainers up on the table and say:

“Look Neil, I’m just a poor student. I really can’t afford all these hoity-toity beers you keep recommending. Those are for rich people who take showers and stuff…”

So, I decided to put Tui to the test against nine competing beers which all sell for under $15 a dozen.

Then, appropiately, Belgian Beers:

I suspect that no one in New Zealand celebrates July 21 quite as much as I do. By the time this column is published, I will have personally celebrated Nationale Feestdag 2007 four times. It is unlikely even the August Belgian Consuls have done as much commemorating as I have – which is probably just as well if they want to keep their diplomatic credentials.

Finally, I invented a drinking game:

One of the most popular genres is “drink when”. As the name suggests, when something particular happens, a person has to drink a designated amount. These games can involve very little drinking (“drink every time a politician answers the question directly”) or a lot of drinking (“drink every time a woman sighs when Dan Carter is on screen”).

Recent Tastings

It’s been a very busy week for beer tastings so here are the reports from three recent events including the winners of the popular vote:

The big one was the Belgian beer tasting at Cellar Vate:

Sixty people at the Belgian beer tasting took solace in the famous sign near a Belgian monastery – “The good Lord has changed water into wine, so how can drinking beer be a sin?”

There was also a tasting for the active Statistics New Zealand social club:

The last time I had run a beer tasting for the Statistics New Zealand Social Club, the weather outside had been so stormy that a neighbouring wooden fence was completely blown over while I was trying to talk about Porters.

The third was the Centre for Public Health Research:

A fun little tasting involving beer, chocolate and singstar…

In print this month

From The Wellingtonian (reprinted with kind permission), a column on Belgian beers:

Charles de Gaulle once said that “Belgium is a country invented by the British to annoy the French.” Belgium is also the world’s most interesting beer nation.

In Salient, a most weather appropiate column on dark beers:

Just like an emo’s poetry, beers tend to get darker in winter.

However, unlike those self-obsessed scribblings, dark beers can be deep, rich and satisfying.

From The Free Radical (reprinted in the name of freedom, the editor does not do “kind”), a look at beers warming the globe:

When the rain lashes in sideways and the temperature is turning the local monkeys to brass, those kinds of cool quenching lagers lose much of their appeal. Instead, a beer drinker’s mind turns to deep, rich, satisfying beers designed to warm the palate and the soul.

This column is about beers for when the sun doesn’t shine.