14 May 2009

Notes from two abbeys

Some of you might have come to think that I don't drink Belgian beers. After all, they have barely been mentioned in this blog. But I do drink them. I just choose not to publish my views on them. That's for two reasons, on the one hand, because if I were to post reviews of all the beers I drink, this blog will become a diary of my tasting notes (more than it already is) and doing that would also take time that I need to write posts that I find more interesting. And on the other hand, because most of those beers have been commented and discussed in countless blogs and forums and, frankly, I don't think I have anything new to bring to the table. Really, how necessary is it another blog post on how good Orval is? Not much, methinks.

But I've recently come accross two Belgian brews which I'd never heard about before, nor in forums neither in blogs, at least not recently (yeah, yeah, I'm sure I can find them in Rate Beer or Beer Advocate, but you already know I never go there). They are Maredsous Bruin (8%ABV) and Floreffe Tripel (7,5%ABV).

Both are Abbey Beers. Maredsous is brewed under the supervision of the monastic community of the same name, according to Benedictine traditions (or so the bottle says). Floreffe is brewed by Brasserie Lefebvre. Though there doesn't seem to be any monastic involvement, the beer does have a historical link with the namesake monastery, now a school.
I arrive at the mass at Maerdsous. The officiating abbot is wearing a spongy cap of slightly tanned colour and a very dark amber robe. He starts the sermon in a low voice and dull tone that soon becomes a monotonous drone. My mind starts to wander, only decorum is keeping me awake. When the sermon ends I am bored out of my skull. What a waste of time! The only thing that the good Abbot Bruin of Maredsous has managed to stir in me is the question whether a really bad beer isn't sometimes better than a very boring one.
A few days later I find myself at the Floreffe abbey. The officiating monk is wearing a compact white cap and an almost orange robe. Like his colleague (or competitor or enemy, you never know with these religious orders), he starts his homily with a dull voice. I take a deep breath, getting ready for the worst. Then suddenly something, a word? a phrase? a change in the tone of voice?, catches my interest. I start paying attention to what this monk is telling me. It is nothing new, nothing I haven't heard before, sometimes even with fancier words. But many times it isn't what it's said, but how it is said, and this friar says it so well. When the sermon ends I feel very glad I have attended it. It was nothing life changing, mind you, nor has it converted me (my sincretist beer faith is too strong), but it is something I would like to listen to again in the future. Sometimes it is the simple and reassuring words what you need.

Na Zdraví!

Choose your preferred Prague hotels and get free transport.

2 comments:

  1. Great post, philosopher!
    Both Maredsous and Floreffe brands are quite well known, specialy the former. The Maredsous range is brewed by Duvel-Moortgat brewer of the famous Duvel (and also somehow related to USA's Ommegang). Until not so long ago, Maredsous Bruin used to be called Maredsous 8 (and Maredsous Tripel was Maredsous 10). Maybe the renaming is part of some marketing strategy which also probably implied a change of character - I haven't tried the "new" beers yet but 8 and 10 used to be quite good.

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  2. Aha! That might explain why a couple of the people who commented on the Spanish version didn't understand my rather poor review of this beer. I never drank the "previous" Maredsous 8, so I can't compare. I guess I will have to wait until you, beertruck, do it and let us know the results.

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