Sunday, March 25, 2007
PELFORTH, GREEN SPIRULINA, HE'BREW
A month passes you by and then before you know it there's another sneaking up behind you, ready to zip by. Which is a shame, really. There's so much to tell and so little time to put something decent together, especially since it's really the in-betweens that make life more interesting, framing the big stories and jabbing away at the pompous narratives smirking from the margins.
So here's something familiar, which will not need as much time as the telling of other stories. The story of three beers. The splash picture of course has to do with a good year -- last year, enough friends and family gave me a steady supply of what should be part of the basics, which is the Belgian Abbey beer called Leffe. In the collection picture next to this is shown a queue of Leffe Bruins, Leffe Blondes, Leffe Triples and Leffe Vieille Cuvees. I think ounce per ounce the Belgians make the best beers in the world, though I'd have preferences lodged elsewhere when it comes to specific styles. White beer, for instance -- Germany makes the best ones in the world, the most crisp, aromatic kinds. And stout beers, well, the Irish have the honors of course. But enough of the other beers. Here are three special ones picked from the shelf today and which can hopefully get some fluid running through the other chunks of text stuck in my mind.
Thanks for dropping by.
Brune, biere de degustation
Produced by France, and brought back to the Kamuning Republic from Paris in 2001.
6.5%, with robust flavors of nutmeg and little caramel with just the right bitters, this beer has a great finish and comes in a beautiful, small 25 cl. green bottle which fits snugly inside a small bag and makes you feel like you have a beautiful, well-kept secret that's yours to keep.. Looking at this beer right now reminds me of a friend of mine, Densio, who has similar attributes.
I first tasted Pelforth Brune at the open air top of the towering Grande Arche de la Defense in Paris, and it tasted just right as I looked around me and surveyed the heady panorama of the great city. Kala didn't join me on the elevator ride to the top, unfortunately, but I did get her some more bottles of Pelforth later, which means she too has fond memories of the slow perfume of this excellent brew and the French capital. If you ever find yourself in France some time in the future, don't just go looking for great and interesting food and wine. Look for the still largely unheralded French beers -- and bring back great brewed memories.
TSINGTAO GREEN SPIRULINA
Brewed in Qingdao, China by Tsingdao brewery Co. Ltd. and first tasted with Martin Baker in a largely deserted restaurant by the bay in Sai Kung, Hong Kong in early 2004.
4.5%, and yes, this clear bottle indeed once housed green beer and the cyanobacteria called spirulina, which includes pigments such as chlorophyll-a which is probably what helps give the green tint. For those who have heard of spirulina but who can't locate the place where they first heard it, spirulina is also used as a health food supplement or for making healthy drinks with water or water and honey. NASA also reportedly considers spirulina to be one of the primary foods that can be cultivated during long-term space missions (and now spacemen can have space beer!). Actually, whatever it's dietary worth really is beside the point. Focus on the nice thing -- it's green beer, and when you have it with great company, it should be just great. I remember that it was windy and very humid one afternoon in Sai Kung and Martin and I were quite thirsty. The funny Tsingtao brew of course just leapt out of the menu while Martin and I were contemplating what to order and also what to do with our silences and stories. No contest, of course, and we had a great laugh trying to understand the verdant attributes of Tsingtao's green brew, which still tasted like its regular bubblies except for a peculiar hint of herbal. Mr. Baker lives around the vicinity of that restaurant (Hong Kong ain't too big...) and in the last three years he's been dropping by every now and then at the place and also checking out the groceries. He hasn't come across our green beer again. It was like the Green Spirulina beer was served just for the blue moment we shared near the salt of Sai Kung, which has since occupied a special place in the humid, breeze-truncated place called memory.
The Chosen Beer
Brought back in 2006 to the Kamuning Republic by Kala, this is a double India pale ale with rye malt and "brewed with an obscene amount of malts and hops". Brewed and bottled by the Schmaltz Brewing Co. of Saratoga srpings, New York, as "A tribute to Jewish stars." And how's that for an intro, eh?
10%, strong and flavorful and with a smoothness similar to German white beers, He'Brew is a beer I would look for if ever I get to visit New York one day. The beer comes in a tall, hefty brown bottle with a really quaint label filled with funny stuff about Lenny Bruce. For instance, branding it "the chosen beer" and also on the stem label: "Finally, one last four-letter word concerning Lenny Bruce: DEAD. At 40... that's obscene." Signed, "Dick Schaap." Kala brought back this bottle from her New York romp and reunion in September with great buddies Yvette and Jeng and Ebong and Beth. We had He'Brew with Alaminos Longganisa on our wee table in Kamuning, I think. Great memories and I want another bottle... #