February 10, 2006

Not without my beer

Recently I've been making plans for the future. After so long in Holland, I'm hoping to get back to Sydney this year, for good. In preparation, I've been taking care of various things for this. Mostly little odd things, such as selling junk that I'll no longer want, and sorting out other things that I'll need for a move back.

Retaining the best of what's here is important too. Moving back will leave me without some things I enjoy here, so I've been trying to make up for it where possible. Fewer travelling opportunities, and a different way of doing what I've become used to. There's also been the matter of food and other lifestyle things that I could miss. Most of these I can live without, but one thing in particular I cannot.

The gorgeous beers of Belgium. I'll sorely miss them.

I've been spoilt to death by being right next door to the world's greatest beer country. Before coming here, I thought beer was just another cheap drink, with little in the way of variation in brands and styles. I've since learned that this is far from the truth. Beer is a beverage with as much going for it as "traditional" fine drinks like wine. There are dozens of styles and varietes, some with enormous complexity, and in total there are about a thousand different beers available. If I'd tried one different beer every night since arriving in Holland 6 years ago, I'd only just have finished them all. The shops here in Holland only have about 500 varieties anyway!

I'm determined not to give up these heavenly and diverse flavours.

I'm going to ensure a lasting supply for myself in Sydney. The good news on these beers is that unlike regular lager style beers, they last. They can be cellared for between 3 and 10 years, so I won't have to worry about them going stale.

One of the plans is to buy lots of beer here, and post it back to Sydney, taking advantage of cheap surface mail rates. 3 months shipping time is no problem for these beers. Once they arrive, they can be cellared at Mum & Dad's until drinking time. I came up with a list of those beers worthy of taking back. It would work out at around $6-7 total cost per bottle...not cheap as I can get most here for about €2, but being so far from the source always adds a premium.

I've since discovered a couple of places in Sydney that have a few of these beers, at fairly reasonable prices. A shop in Leichhardt also sells about 40 different Belgians, with some top quality ones amongst them, so that gives me a good stock for times of need. But some of the greatest that I need aren't there, and I'm still searching. Where oh where can I find a Rochefort 10 in Sydney??

I recently came across Megabeer, an Aussie bunch who sell beer online. They only have six Belgians, but that doesn't matter as they have St Bernardus Abt, my second favourite beer in the world!!! (I have never tasted my favourite beer though - the holy grail of all beers is the Westvleteren) I quickly ordered 50 bottles in total of the Abt, Prior and the legendary cave-aged Grottenbier. By the time I get to drinking the last of them, they should develop into unforgettable drinks. So 50 bottles now sit in Mum&Dads cellar, building up those lovely aromas and esters.

Of course I won't survive on imported Belgian beer alone. I'll start to brew my own, with a helping hand from dad and a couple of mates who have been brewing for a while, and I'll try to reproduce the essences of these Belgian artesian beers. Mmmm!

In the meantime, this weekend I'll be in Belgium, visiting Bruges and tasting everything on offer, and perhaps bringing a few back to Holland.

Posted by Ben at February 10, 2006 10:48 PM
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