Sunday 29 October 2017

Chile judging day three

The man who looks like the victim of a paint factory explosion is in the breakfast room again. I mean Kristen. I assume his wife plays little part in his clothing choices.

We stop off at the Bonaparte coffee shop on the way to the university. The coffee in the hotel isn’t great. And a double expresso will guarantee I’m alert for the judging. Well, awake, at least.

It’s a 9 AM start again. But there’s only one session, thankfully. Yesterday the judging went on way too long.

My laptop isn’t working. I can’t get a wifi connection. I call over Felipe and he gets someone to take a look. He can’t get it to work, either, so they fetch me a replacement laptop. It’s all done pretty efficiently and I’m ready to rock by nine.

I’m judging with Ignazio Schwalb and Andres Gonzales Cuadra this session. We’re judging vegetable and herb beers first. In the “experimental” category. That doesn’t raise my hopes much. Amazingly most aren't shit. Some are dead good.

The final flight is Strong Dark Belgian Ale. Great. This is bang in the middle of my expertise. “I drink a crate of St. Bernardus Abt every week. This should be a doddle.” I say.  I’ve been looking forward to this flight.

The first beer arrives. It’s amber in colour. Mmmm. The “Dark” in the beer style’s name sort of gives away what colour it should be. There are four beers in all, none much like Belgian versions. A couple are way off the style.

We're done by midday. Not sure what the plan is after that. I manage to collar Filipe. "What's the plan?" "The expo is over the road. And there's a free lunch. Just go in the building over the road and turn left."

It's a bit more complicated than that. True, it’s to the left. But you have to leave the building, turn another two corners, go through the student canteen and then around another corner. I feel a little out of place, surrounded by people 40 years my junior. I finally spot someone wearing a lanyard. I’m amazed that I found it.

I'm walking through the Expo looking confused when someone says: "Ron, can I have a photo with you?" I'm tempted to say "That'll be 10,000 pesos." But I'm a generous man. It's a Mexican bloke. We talk about beer a bit and I say I'm surprised he knows who I am. "You're famous in Mexico." "Really?"

The free lunch isn't great. But it's food and I haven't eaten since breakfast. Sliced meat in a bub with cheese and avocado on top. I’m starving, so I gulp it down.

I bump into John Robertson, Marty Nachel (Marty is a writer and BJCP judge. Though I don’t hold the latter against him.) and Uwe Kalms, who brews in Den Bosch. The exhibition part is in a courtyard under a tent. It's hot. Stiflingly hot.

"Let's get a beer" someone suggests. Probably me. Which is what we do. Mosaic IPAs. It is rather nice.

“It's hot in here. Fancy going to a pub?” Someone suggests. Probably me.

We're in a university. And there's a church just down the street. In a catholic country . . .

Sure enough, there's a bar over the road. We sit in the shade outside and order pisco sours. There’s a choice of Peruano and Chileano. I go for the latter. I am in Chile. After all.

The food – which they bill as tapas - looks dead good. They're even photographing it.

The barman says: "The Peruanos are better. Bigger, too. And the same price."

He’s right. I switch to Peruanos.

I have order croquets. Especially as Uwe, my soon to be countryman, is here. They aren’t quite what I expect. More like bitterballen, really. Nice. But John's beef bao is better.

I chat with Uwe about old Dutch Lager styles. Something I love banging on about. I tell him the story of Oud Bruin (which I got from Roel Mulder – he has an ace book on old Dutch beers, but, unfortunately, it’s only in Dutch) being invented by big Lager breweries in the North to compete with the sweet top-fermenting beer drunk in Brabant. And to drive the small breweries that made it out of business. I promise to send him an Oud Bruin recipe.

After a while, Uwe goes back for Best of Show judging, which I’m glad I wasn’t asked to do. I’m all judged out. We sit in the sun and have more pisco sours.

After 90 minutes or so, Uwe comes back, "How did you know we'd still be here?" He just laughs.

Our waiter speaks no English. So John is surprised at the response when he asks for the toilet inside:

"El bano?"

"It's there on the right." Comes back in English.

I order one of the ossabuco baos. It tastes as good as it looks. And more pisco Peruanos.

We’re on a main road and buses are constantly swishing past.

“Did you see the number of that bus? T1TS. Tits. Someone must have been having a laugh when they called in that.” I’m an observant chap.

“Damn. I missed it.”

On the way back to the hotel, I buy a bottle of pisco in tiny bottle shop. Bloke dusts off the bottle. Obviously a popular brand, this. It's only about 4,000 pesos, the same as one pisco sour in the pub. His ancient tiny mum pokes out from the back as I'm paying. Not sure why.

We decide to walk to Mossto. It isn’t far and it’s a lovely evening.

I spot "Cervezas artesenales" on the outside of a bar called Saint Germain. It would be bad luck to just walk past. I like the sign by the door: “Quando hay cerveza no hay tristeza” “When you have beer you don’t have sadness.” I can go along with that.

I order a Stouty thing, Hoffnung Stout. It isn’t great. A bit sour. Weirdly some of the draughts have come all the way from Europe.

The décor is a bit weird. I get the murals of brewing equipment and hops. But why the droogs from Clockwork Orange? I don’t get the beer connection there.

As we’re walking we can see snow-capped mountains on the horizon. It’s a cheerful sight. Sadly, they’re often veiled by smog. A few old buildings, strut half naked on the street, plaster crumbled off. 

We pass a gym-like places where women are exercising like pole dancers. Is that popular here. We pass a second. I guess so.

This time we’re in the upstairs room at the back. There’s already quite a crowd of rowdy drunks. Sorry, beer people.

Tempting fate, I order Black IPA again. This time it turns up in under an hour. Yahay! It arrives in a few minutes, to be fair.

I chat with Carlo and Chris Flaskamp about Germans in Brazil. They had to burn all their books in WW II, after Brazil had declared war on Germany. That’s tough. Which leads us on to discussing the Brazilian troops that fought for the Allies in Italy.

Chris runs a brewery about an hour outside Santiago. It’s called Tübinger, because he studied in Tübingen in Baden Württemberg. Though he was born in Brazil and now lives in Chile.

I order a hamburgery thing from the waiter. "What's your name?" "Ron" "Rob?" "No, Ron." "Rum?" "Ronaldo." "Oh yes, Ronaldo." I guess my South American name is Ronaldo now. Strange, because Kristen has been calling me that for years.

The service is pretty anarchic. And the bar in the most inconvenient spot possible, both for the servers and customers. I fetch my second beer myself. It seems simplest.

I don’t stay that late. I’ll need all my strength for tomorrow. It’s my birthday. And I’ll be speaking.

I get an Uber with Averie and Jeff from Jester King. With only the three of us, it positively luxurious.

A shot of pisco speeds me off to slumber’s embrace.

Café Bonaparte
Av. Ricardo Lyon 1229,
Región Metropolitana.

D'n Draok - Bossche Brouwerij
5215he 's-Hertogenbosch.
Tel: 6426865

Av. Manuel Montt 925,
Región Metropolitana.
Tel: +56 2 3267 4334

Saint Germain Beerhouse
Rancagua 406,
Región Metropolitana.

Cerveza Hoffnung
Graciela Letelier de Ibañez N°2,
Región Metropolitana.
Tel: +56 9 6193 3716

Mossto Brewfood
Av. Condell 1460,
Providencia, Santiago,
Región Metropolitana.
Tel: +56 2 2791 8603

Cerveceria Principal (Tübinger)
Calle Nueva s/n,
Parcela 6A. El Principal,

My trip was paid for by Copa Cervezas de América 

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