Under A Belgian Flag

Call this post a beer drinker’s version of “Under a Tuscan Sun.”

Last Saturday, I wasn’t feeling the greatest. A cold was landing body blows like Rocky to my side of beef carcass body. But, and here’s the rub, I had a cool day planned down in West Chester, Pa. A hip college town about an hour and 15 minutes away in the Philly direction. Let us just say to be diplomatic, that my cosmopolitan, world-traveling wife, gets a tad bored in Lancaster, Pa. at times. West Chester was the town of my early adulthood, after college I lived there in the plush Town’s Edge Apartments. Domicile sarcasm aside, those were good days in a good place. So, I wanted Lina, my wife, to be able to experience a small town with cool shops.

And shop my wife did, finding a quality clothing store and discounted prices. She was in that store for hours, like she was being held hostage.

Primary on our list to visit, was the Iron Hill Brewery on Gay Street in West Chester.  As  I had mentioned in my review of Iron Hill Brewery in my 40/40 Tour, this microbrewery company does about the best job in combining beer, food, and place, as any establishment I have visited. Some places have great beer, but a lame location and or food (or no food). Some places have decent food but  crappy brew.  Iron Hill Brewery is very professional on beer, food, place…and not cheap. Yet, it is worth the cash.

On this day in West Chester, Iron Hill was hosting its annual Belgium Comes to West Chester 2011. Last year, several buddies and I were supposed to go but there was a blizzard. OK, it wasn’t a blizzard technically…those meteorologists really get their tighty-whiteys in a wad about this issue. But, this year, I followed this advice from an old time PBR signs that hangs at the Union Barrel Works in Reamstown:

My wife loves beer and was the one who introduced me to Belgians. She was partial to Chimays when we first met and I think at the time I thought they were hoity-toity . I was a Yuengling Lager man. Now, I like high-priced coffee (even Starbucks is not good enough), fine cheeses, and even clean my bathroom every six months or so. Funny how marriage changes a man. Reminds me of that old Van Halen song, “Big Bad Billy is Sweet William Now.” No, that is not David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen, but you get the point. I have found my wife’s love for beer to make her quite amendable to my home-brewing endeavors. Tip to Men: Choose a hobby that your wife will enjoy the fruit of…like cabinetmaking, landscaping/flowers, painting nails.

So, being with Lina in West Chester, on a snowy Saturday, drinking Belgian, was about as good as it is going to get…wheezing aside. I was almost mute because I was so hoarse…I could not speak and had to point at what I want to order. I was in need of some therapeutic Belgian, and soon enough the brews and food appeared:

Notice the healthy choice of Cobb Salad in the foreground, which I ordered instead of the smoked bacon cheeseburger. Yup, I am officially middle-aged.  I tell you what, I know the Belgian nationality is part weenie French and all, but their beer is simply phenomenal.  How such a small country exerts such a huge influence on beer aficionados worldwide is a fermented “The Little Engine That Could” story. That, with those powerhouse, lager-loving, authoritarian Germans right next door, no less. A payback for the Battle of Antwerp.

If our meal was a battle, we did leave some beer behind on the battlefield:

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I do not endorse over-consumption and destructive drinking.  Sometimes it is wisest to leave beer behind…even great Belgian Beers. And these beers were great. My wife’s and I’s favorite was Nodding Head’s Rudy’s Kung Fu Grip. Here’s the description from the N.H. website:

Rudy’s Kung Fu Grip

Very Stong (11%ABV) Belgian-Style Ale… deep amber-red in color and full bodied… maly sweetness with a plum-like fruity charecter and just a hint of spicyness

God has given beer to man to make him happy, as Benjamin Franklin noted, as proof of God’s love for man.  God has not bestowed beer upon us to make us stupid. That is sick, like the cold I had. Enjoy great beer moderately and be well. And, invite your wife to join the fun, and life will be a lot sweeter.



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