Beer From The Low Country0
The smell of beer slopped on wooden tables, the glint of light in the top of the chalice, the sounds of a deck of cards and the clink of glasses.
I’m in a bar in the north country but my senses are across the sea and howling winds, in the bustle of a backstreet bar in Belgium.
Four pm on a sunny Friday, sampling the beers of the Low Countries in a bar in Leeds, dreaming of being back in Brussels, Bruges or even Amsterdam. Or those other low cities I’ve not yet visited – Antwerp, or Ghent.
It’s North’s Lowlands Bier Festival and the fridges are jam packed with beers across a spectrum of prices and slapstick names: ‘Willy’ and ‘Klap’ are both (hopefully) lost in translation.
Even though the light of day is starting to fade, a winter ale seems wrong in the mild climate, but Dutch beers are on tap and that doesn’t happen often in the north of England.
De Molen Klap van de Molen (Hit by the Mill) is a dark viscous affair to wrap up in, dominated by apple skin sweetness and too much spice. Suffice to say it packs a punch (and nothing more sinister).
It’s quickly turned into an impromptu meal – add a cheese and meat board: a spot of raisin and walnut bread, a few slices of salami and a wedge of cheese. Sticky raisins and beer, peppery salami, mellow cheese umami; the beer is a prickly Calpol food softener and suddenly my mind is back in Belgium, in the evening din of yet another backstreet bar surrounded by stemmed glasses of dark sweet liquid and rye heavy bread, thick yellow cheese and pink elephants on the walls…
A cheeky kriek freshens things up (that’s the great thing about Belgian beers) and the menu is open wide once again.
Tripels, bocks, IPAs, Trappists, English bitters. The festival is nothing short of testament to the diversity of modern lowland beer culture. Add some Jupiler and it’s got almost everything! There’s a lot to celebrate here and celebrate it we do. Plus there’s time for a quick half of North’s very own exclusive beer brewed by the managers: a rasping Roosters style bitter.
As the darkness of night approaches we’ve drunk these beers in a topsy turvy order, and if we get stuck to into many more of the myriad lowland biers on offers, topsy turvy is where our heads will be too.Tags: Belgian Beer, de molen, Dutch, kriek, north bar