Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Testing for Happiness of Animals and Malted Barley.

The original plan was to go fishing. In the end we left the poles at home and reeled in waiters at lunchtime. I heard no complaints. Least of all from the fish.

We spent the weekend in the Ardennes, near Malmedy. With friends we rented a rural gîte and made ourselves at home in the backyard. We slept late, drove around the countryside, ate trout for lunch, worked through a fridge full of beer, and barbecued at night. Look at this cute little guy on the right, dressed in a fashionable coat of terragon sauce. He's smiling! Happy trout are tasty trout.

I've got my friends so well trained now that beer tourism is inevitable, even when I don't plan for it. Turned out the small, three-year-old Bellevaux brewery (aw, it's just a toddler) was on a hillside very near our place. We landed there at the same time as a large caravan of Dutch people and managed to snake a table before they could get organized. Beer samplers all around.

I'd had the Black before, and it was roasty and interesting at least. The Blanche avoids much spicing and is on the light, refreshing end. The Blonde had some actual hop flavor. The Brune was my favorite, quite a bit maltier than most Belgian ales, with a chewy caramel aspect to it. None were world-beaters, but none of them were bad either – all technically solid. Might even be a brewery to watch if they can dial up the character a bit. And anyway, there's not much else in that part of the country. Bellevaux is a welcome newcomer for sure.

From there it was back to the house to begin the nightly Trivial Pursuit marathon and long, slow cooking of spare-ribs. Like the fish, the pork was silent on the matter. But just going on flavor I'd say those pigs were pretty happy about the whole deal.


  1. Great testing methodology! :D

    So, were the beers happy?

  2. Excellent question. We tested several Orvals, Zinnebirs, Taras Boulbas, and Pilsner Urquells, among others. All responded well and generally showed a high level of happiness at being brought along to the Ardennes with us.

  3. Beer and Triv nights? Sounds marvellous!

  4. Beer and trivial pursuit... always starts out great... always ends in tragedy.