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).
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.
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:
Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale:
-Dark brown pour
-Strong, sour cherry flavors
-Easy to drink, a great introduction to the style
–Sharply written & acted
-Dark, funny & bloody
-Great cast, no Harry Potter magic though