Tag Archives: belgium

Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour & In Bruges

Hey there, Drinkers!

Today we’re taking a trip to Belgium. An irreverent, booze-soaked trip to Belgium. Inspired by a recent article I read about sour beers and summer weather, I’m sipping on a Flemish sour today while watching the entirely unexpected film In Bruges. So let’s get started, shall we?

A brief  overview of our film: In Bruges was released in 2008 and stars Colin Farrell along with most of the cast of the Harry Potter movies. The setting? The quaint, medieval Belgian town of Bruges; a town which we are repeatedly told is either a dream or a fucking shithole (pardon the language, I’m just channeling the characters). The story revolves around two hitmen, one old and one young, who must hide out in Bruges for two weeks after a job goes wrong. But the movie isn’t really about murder or hitmen. It’s about reconciling with your past and figuring out if there’s hope in your future. It’s also about love, forgiveness, hope and dwarves. Oh and I did I mention that it’s a dark, twisted comedy? Really, the whole essence of In Bruges is that it largely defies definition. Yes it’s a hilarious, unapologetic comedy but it’s also deeply disturbing and sad. Without giving too much away, a lot of people die in this movie and it’s all quite graphic (really, this isn’t for weak of stomach).

Truth

Truth

The movie is also a nice reminder that Colin Farrell is indeed an actor. His performance is really quite astounding and unexpected. Farrell’s character, Ray, is essentially an overgrown child who knows only about guns and drugs. And that’s not to say he’s stupid (which he kind of is) but it’s more that he never had a reason to emotionally grow up. He throws tantrums, he hates museums and can’t help but discuss the alarming rates of midget suicide with a dwarf actor he meets. He’s hilarious and also utterly depressed. Being a child, he has no way of dealing with the very adult realities that are facing him. Which is where Brendan Gleeson’s Ken comes in. Oddly, Ken becomes a sort of father to Ray, dragging the begrudging Ray around to all the old churches while also caring deeply for Ray’s emotional well-being. It’s a heartfelt, if not strange relationship that is the true core of the film. There is actually quite a lot to discuss in this movie but for the sake of time, I’ll just recommend that you watch it. It’s extremely well-written and well-acted. Also be prepared for some heavy English/Irish accents. Fair warning.

Also, there's ice cream

Also, there’s ice cream

And our Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour from Brouwerij Van Steenberge? Delightful! Now some of you might be thinking “Sour? Why would I want to drink a sour beer?” That’s a fair question but I’d suggest you try one out first before passing judgement. Sour ales, a Belgian tradition of sorts, might be better categorized as tart. Or even vinegar-y but that also does not inspire confidence. Really, a great sour is the perfect mix between sweet and sour. And Monk’s Cafe fits the mold perfectly. Pouring a dark brown color, you’ll immediately get notes of sour cherry, vinegar and maybe a little woodiness (maybe oak, maybe cherrywood). When you sip it, you’ll first be shocked by how light this brown beer is. Interestingly enough, most sour’s have very light bodies that make them very easy to drink. You’ll also get hit with some fruity sweetness at the top that fades into sour cherry laced with alcohol (don’t worry, it’s only 5.5% ABV). It’s not entirely complex but it’s a bright flavor profile that will have you standing at attention. Really, a good sour stands apart from other beers and begs the question “is this really a beer?” Yes it really is a beer and yes it is really good.

So there you have it, Drinkers. A night out in Belgium without ever leaving your too-warm apartment. It’s really a great combination. An unexpected movie full of levity and darkness paired with an unexpectedly delicious beer. A beer that is both light and dark and waiting to be discovered.

Thanks for reading and as always keep drinking, my friends.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:monks-cafe
Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale:
-Dark brown pour
-Strong, sour cherry flavors
-Easy to drink, a great introduction to the style

In Bruges:
Sharply written & acted
-Dark, funny & bloody
-Great cast, no Harry Potter magic though

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Bacchus & The Kid With A Bike

We’re back, Drinkers!

Now that I finally have internet in my new apartment, I thought I’d celebrate in the only way I know how: with a brew in my hand and a movie on my screen. Tonight’s combo brings us across the pond to Beer Heaven: Belgium. The home of some of the best beers in the world, Belgium is also known for occasionally putting out some great films. Who knew? And since we’ve talked about Belgian or Belgian-style beers in the past, I thought it would be appropriate to pay tribute to their other cultural contributions. So let’s hop on that bike and go for a spin!

For starters, The Kid With A Bike is a 2011 Cannes Grand Jury Prize winning Belgian film directed by the prolific and talented Dardenne brothers. This French-language film follows the painful story of Cyril, a young boy who is abandoned by his father and taken in by a hairdresser. Cyril is an enigmatic mix of depression, denial, independence and longing. It’s mix of character traits that makes sense given his abandonment but is still impressive to see. The young actor, Thomas Doret, portrays all of these emotions so naturally and hauntingly. Cyril is desperate for attention and guidance while also constantly shutting out everyone who tries to help him. The only exception to this is a local thief who briefly acts as an older brother ends up just using him to help steal money. At every moment, you feel like Cyril is capable of so much growth but in the end, he always shuts himself down and hurts those around him. It’s frustrating, confusing and most importantly, real.

Definitely not a creepy drug dealer.

That hair definitely means he’s not drug dealer

It doesn’t really do much good to go any further into the plot. First, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Second, there’s not much else to say. This is much less about the story and more about the characters. Yes, the events shape the characters and their relationships, but the moments are short. Catalytic. The majority of the film can be found in the quiet moments in between. At the dinner table with Cyril and Samantha, his guardian. In the long bike rides. In the silences where character’s faces seem to only say “I don’t know how to deal with this situation so I’m just not going to say anything.” Overall, it’s a brave bit of filmmaking. The Dardenne brothers trust in their actors and their visuals so completely that the film really has very little else to fall back on. If what I’m describing sounds like a boring film, that’s only because I’m not doing it justice. It truly is an engaging (and quiet) film that is both painful and rewarding to complete.

It does have a happy ending...sorta

I promise it does have a happy ending…sorta

And our Bacchus Belgian beer? Quite tasty, actually! Bacchus however is not your typical “Belgian” beer. Most Belgians have a distinct banana-y yeast flavor that is immediately recognizable. Instead, this beer falls into the genre of Flanders Oud Bruin (Old Brown Flanders). I’ll admit that I’m not as familiar with Flanders-style beers (except that the three I’ve had in my lifestyle are awesome!) but if I’m not mistaken, the Bacchus is a fair representative of the style. It pours a nice ruby-brown color with a modest head and lots of tiny carbonation. The smell that hits you once you pour is the one you’ll be tasting, so hopefully you enjoy strong notes of cherry and citrus. The beer is a bit on the sweet side but has a hint of a sour bite mixed right in the middle. Yes, the profile is not exactly complex but it is quite tasty. The sweet, fruity flavor combined with a mild ABV of 4.5% makes this beer very easy to drink without becoming a guzzler. Or maybe I’m just a classy fellow.

So there you have it, drinkers! A quick trip to Belgium! We had a strong movie with a modest beer that I think worked out quite well. Where the beer was sweet but one-note, the film was tough but deeply complex. I’d definitely recommend checking out both of these, if only to make yourself feel culturally superior to your friends.

Seriously, when’s the last time they watched a movie in French?

And as always my friends, keep drinking!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:bacchus
Bacchus:
-Ruby/brown pour
-Strong cherry aroma & flavor
-Simple but tasty

The Kid With A Bike:
-Quiet but powerful
-Fantastic performances without much dialogue
-Apparently Belgium makes good movies. The more you know

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