Although David Turley of Musing Over a Pint did host a great session on Belgian-style triples (A Tripel for Two) back in February 2009, we noticed with no small element of surprise that there has not yet been a Session dedicated to discussing beers from this country generally and so we feel that we are the hosts to bring Belgian beer to the tip of your tongues both literarily and libatiously.... The rules are that there are no rules. There is incredible opportunity at your fingertips; whether it be to write about the first time you tried a Flemish red brown ale or the time you got your taste buds around a traditional Belgian witbier.
I am not sure if I recall my first Belgian beer correctly but I am pretty sure it went down in February 1986. After graduating from undergrad, three of my pals traveled together to Europe backpacking. We were meeting up with another whose parents lived in Brussels. High jinks ensued. But little of quality. I recall being in the Grand Parade. Leaving a bar one cold damp night I got the chance to interact with a machine gun toting black leather coated paramilitary officer suggesting the evening was over. Fabulous. Overdoing the whole machine gun toting black leather coated paramilitary was something of a tourism opportunity for my pal with the local connections. It was always being pointed out how important it was to the culture, like the hundred of them lined up with German shepherds and paddy-wagons to watch the small group of Chilean protesters talk about freedom one afternoon.
Anyway, what about the beer? We drank Guinness primarily. Or the next beer, whatever that was. At one point, we moved the fluid weeks of art galleries and taverns to Paris where I earned a two day hangover if not alcohol poisoning after gunning dimpled pint after dimpled pint of sweet kriek at a place called La Mort Subite where a guy called Brad from Philly saved my bacon by identifying that five guys from Gascony were about to start a bar fight with me and my pals. I thought I was being genial in my butchered backwoods Canadian school French. The next day I was sure I was dying. The pain only really kicked in around suppertime. At another point, we went into a beers-of-the-world sort of bar in Paris with a rotating globe over the front door. I had my first tripel there, mainly because it was the strongest listed beer. Again, it was in a dimpled mug. I think. Soon, I left the guys who headed south for the sun and started working in the Netherlands for a couple of months. On the train to Amsterdam I asked the Dutch lassie my age across from me, she who would not be chatted up, if we had crossed the border. She said "of course, can't you tell?" Boarded with a family and learned the wholesale flower trade before heading home and working in the family shops for a while. I loved Holland. No machine gun toting black leather coated paramilitary officers. I biked to work at 7 am joining the flow of the biking Dutch of Aaslmeer, clear headed.
At some point when I was still with my college friends, there was a calmer bar. Back in Brussels we were talking with some locals our age having a few beers. I botched the difference between "savez vous" and "connaissez vous" in a discussion of dogs. I have no idea why we were talking about dogs. Apparently I suggested someone had a rather personal relationship with a dog. Anyway, I kept the coaster and put it in an IKEA frame when I got home. Been in that glass for 28 years. Sits in the stash room now on a shelf. Next to the Guinness one.