The first part of this beerier version of our blog - accessible here:http://singlesteppers.blogspot.com/ - was actually supposed to be about Dublin. But a funny thing happened on the way to St. James’ Gate. I distinctly remember when we arrived at Dulles we went to our gate to make sure we knew where it was. Our Aer Lingus plane was sitting there and I remarked that it was good they were doing maintenance because that’s precisely the sort of thing I like in an airline. Well, after visiting the Old Dominion pub we returned to the gate and they were still working on the plane. Boarding time came and went, as did departure time and they were still working on the plane. We were scheduled to redeye it to Dublin, tour Guinness, hit some pubs and head back to the airport for a quick jaunt to Paris. Instead, they stuck us on an Air France plane straight to Charles de Gaulle.
So no Guinness, but what can you do? We actually got some extra time in Paris out of the deal, which was unfortunate because we thought we may as well squeeze in some extra beer time. I’d never been to Paris before so you’ll have to forgive me for thinking that beer hunting was a reasonable idea. The cheesehunting was good, but as for beer we should have quit while we were ahead, that being Kronenbourg Blanc at the café around the corner from our hotel.
Not that the rest of Paris wasn’t pretty cool – it was – but beerwise I’m glad we were moving on quickly to Belgium. Actually, the whole idea of doing all this other stuff when our end destination was Bamberg seemed entirely silly. But since our move to Europe coincided with the Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation, we figured that would be a good stop.
Basically, the WoSF is the lambic festival. Almost all the lambics you can get are at this festival, including some that are seldom seen outside of this festival. It’s in a small Flemish town and really doesn’t seem like all that much one the outside. But trust me, once you realize that beer geeks from all over the world have congregated there specifically because it is a one-of-a-kind experience.
The WoSF was put together by a group of lambic lovers knows as the Opstalse Bierpalletiers, a group of people who simply love lambic and wish to promote its prosperity. They go around to each of the lambic breweries and collect the beers, which include an extensive range of unblended lambics. Only a few unblended lambics make it into bottle, so this is probably the best way to sample them all. I should say, that it is probably just as good to drink them in the cafés in which they are normally served, but for those who do not have the time to track them all down or for doing comparative tasting this event is the best thing going.
For those who don’t know, there is unblended kriek as well, known as kriekenlambic. On this weekend, there were two unblended frambozenlambiks and one unblended cassis as well. In fact, the unblended Cantillon Frambozenlambik was one of the stars of the show. There were some great vintages on display as well, including a pair for Eylenbosch. There was some Belle Vue Fond Gueuze, the predecessor to Selection Gueuze, in addition to three vintages of the latter.
A table full of Ratebeerians was in the house, because we love great beer and beer history. It’s just something we do. The crowd was great and a few people even brought beers to share, a precursor to a later tasting that we did not attend. In all, it took two full days to try all the beers we wanted to try, and had to knock down the last bottle on the train to make it all work.
So for lambic lovers, you must visit the Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation at least once in your life. And extra special thanks to those who care enough to put on events like this. Brilliant.