Thursday, October 30, 2008

Belgian Beer Log Day 5 - Rocheforte and others.

Disclaimer: this is Belgium and having a beer at lunch is completely normal.

4 of us went out to lunch today and ended up with lasagna and beer at some pub and both were quite good. I had the Rocheforte 10 as that was on my list as Matt's favorite beer when he was in Belgium. This particular beer could definitely be a problem if you're not careful. It was 11.3% alcohol, but you don't taste it like with the Westmalle Trippel. The Rocheforte is very smooth and remarkably tasty. This is indeed my favorite beer in Belgium or elsewhere.

For dinner that night we went to The Lodge again (yes, 3 nights in a row) and i had a Kasteelbier Bruin (11%) which was hearty and dark and almost as good as the Rocheforte. Last i had a Ciney Bruin (7%) which had a more crisp taste. It was still dark, but not as hearty as the Kasteelbier and ranked a little lower on the taste scale.

I didn't have time to buy beer before heading to the airport the next morning so i ended up paying $20 for 4 bottles of the Rocheforte 8 and a Rocheforte glass. I haven't tried it yet but i'm hoping it's similar to the Rocheforte 10 that was my favorite.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Belgian Beer Log Day 4 - Duvel, Westmalle Dubbel

I went out to dinner with Pishko and Phil at 'The Lodge' mainly because it was 5 minutes from the fab and had good beer. It was quite cold out and it takes a long time for my little Fiat Punto diesel to warm up. Incidentally, i found that i could get it warmed up by the time i got to The Lodge if i drove in 1st gear the whole way. It made quite a racket pushed against the rev limiter (5,500rpm for those interested) but did warm up.

Anyways, back to the moral of this story. Beer.

I had been told that a lot of Americans that come over to Belgium like Duvel so i tried that. It was decently stiff at 8.5% but pretty light and not so great making it doubly apparent that Americans are wrong when it comes to beer.

We decided to have another as we were eating dinner and all and rather than just ask for any suggestion, i pushed for a suggestion for something dark. To this request i was granted a Westmalle Dubbel. I was a bit dubious at first since the Westmalle Trippel i had the night before left something to be desired but the Dubbel did shine.

The Dubbel it turns out was much better than the Trippel and the Duvel. It was only 7% but dark and hearty and quite good. This was the first of the Trappist beers i liked better than the Irish Stout i had the first night.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Belgian Beer Log Day 3 - Westmalle Trippel (Trappist)

Last night I went with Phil's recommendation and had a Westmalle Trippel. This is another trappist brewery and this particular beer was 9.5% alcohol and you could tell.

Thankfully he told me to pour it in a single pour and to leave the last little bit in the bottle because there's always some yeast left at the bottom that you don't want to drink.

My beer looked just like the picture I found on the website. Same glass and everything. It was a little lighter (color, flavor, not alcohol) than the Chimay I had last night and had a bit of an odd flavor too.

It was good, but I didn't care for the flavor as much as the Chimay or the Irish stout i had my first night over here. I also had a taste of Phil's 2nd beer, an Orval. This was much fruitier than the Trippel (possibly because it has 1/3 less alcohol) but the flavor was ok.

So now I've tried 3 of the 5 trappist brewery's since I've been here and overall I guess I'm not terribly impressed. It's still better than the beer back home though. Apparently my tastes just aren't refined enough or something since the trappist beers are supposed to be the best in the world.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Belgian Beer Log Day 2 - Chimay (Trappist)

Tonight we had dinner at a Greek place that was pretty good. I don't really know what i ordered, but I'm told it was lamb and it came in a little bag with some brown sauce.

They had the Trappist Chimay which was pretty good but I liked the stout i had last night better. The Chimay had a bit of an odd aftertaste i thought.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Belgian Beer Log Day 1 - Murphy's Irish Stout

I had something in a black can on the plane. Not sure what it was but it was medium in color and not very cold. It was better than a Cass in the back of Mr. An’s cab in Korea, but it wasn’t great. It was drinkable though.

It took me 2 hours to find the hotel from the airport. Street signs in Belgium are terrible. I wound up at the Courtyard Marriott somehow and asked directions which helped a little, but it still took me an hour to find the Renaissance after that.

I ate dinner in a little square right across the way from the hotel entrance. Not much was open but the sports bar which worked. The San Diego Chargers vs. the New Orleans Saints was on the big screen so it was decent enough entertainment. The beers weren’t on the menu so I asked the waitress and the only word I caught that she said was ‘stout’ so I ordered that. Turned out to be a Murphy’s Irish Stout. It was quite dark with a decent head and not too bitter but almost creamy. That would be my ‘professional’ opinion. It was very good in fact. 4 days to go.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I climbed a mountain!

My friend Donny called me up in September and said he had some extra passes to climb Mt. Whitney and asked if I wanted to go. I've never climbed a mountain and wasn't in particularly good shape but jumped on the opportunity anyway. I've had a growing desire the last year or two to 'do stuff' and this seemed to fit in perfectly. Really what it comes down to is wanting to do worthwhile things as opposed to just being busy all the time. Anyways, I made it to the gym a bunch of times to run hills on the treadmill and get some time on the stairmaster as well as climb Mission Peak with a 25-35lb pack 3 times. Plus I got to buy a bunch of fun new stuff from REI for the trip (20dg sleeping bag, trekking poles, etc.).

It ended up just being me, Donny and his boss Russ that went which worked out well since we only needed 1 tent, stove and water filter between the 3 of us. We left Fremont at 3:30am on Friday the 17th to drive to the base at 8,000 feet. We then hiked up to the first camp at 10,000 feet to spend the night.

In the morning we headed up to the summit with just day packs which was nice. Our packs were 33-35lbs for the first leg but more like 15lbs for the summit leg. By the time we got to the top the packs were actually pretty light since we had drank most of our water and were wearing all our clothes.

It was a beautiful hike up until it started to lightly snow and get kind of windy at around 13,000 feet.
Unfortunately after you get to crest in the picture above, you go down a ways and traverse 3 miles until coming back up to the summit.
The summit is actually a ways off to the right of the peak in this picture of one of the lakes below.
The peak in this picture is actually the summit.
It was quite cold up top (23 dg according to the $10 Harbor Freight temp sensor I brought) and it was nice to have the summit house to warm up and relax a little in.

The view from the top.

The road you see down at the bottom is where we drove in. Our hike actually started in the trees about 1/3 of the way up the picture.When we came back down it was late and dark and cold, and we were very happy to see our sleeping bags.
When we got up in the morning the stream where we got water had formed several small ice dams. It was pretty neat looking actually.We actually overslept our alarms in the morning and then hiked back to the car and were on our way home. We then made it back to Fremont around 6pm Sunday. It was a long and tiring weekend but it was a lot of fun too. I think if I climb it again, I'm going to go in the summer when it's warmer. Granted, I'm probably not going again any time soon, but you never know.