Friday 3 November 2017

Chile barbecue

I'm feeling a bit rough when I awake. I drag myself downstairs for breakfast and find Kristen there. I tell him about losing my watch. Whilst shading my eyes from the glare of his socks.

"It's not a big deal. It only cost 10 euros new. And that was before the emergency repair." I replaced the back that I lost on the flight over with a bit of my business card, held on with selotape. It looks dead classy. Though it's much less reliable at keeping time, for some reason. "I looked all over my hotel room, but can't find it. I can't imagine anyone would have stolen it."

I ask Kristen where there's an ATM. I need more cash. He gives me directions to a supermarket that has one. He seems to know what he's talking about. He's been here several times before.

A shower should liven me up. I turn on the shower to run warm while I brush my teeth. When I get in the shower, I notice something on floor of the cubicle. It's my watch. I quickly grab it before it gets too wet. The cardboard back isn't much in the way of protection. How the hell did it get into the shower? I guess that’s a mystery that will never be solved.

I’m told there were 31 pisco sours on our bill yesterday. I feel like I drank all of them.

I go off in search of the supermarket with the ATM, planning to pick up some grocery stuff, too. It's further than I expected. Pretty sure Kristen said to turn right onto Bilbao. After 400 metres or so I still haven't spotted the supermarket. Obviously I've come the wrong way. Or Kristen's directions were crap. I'm inclined towards the latter.

On the way back, I notice that the door to one of the banks I've passed is open. At least I'll be able to pick up some cash. I try with my bank card, but right at the end of the process it says that the transaction isn't available with my card. I try again with slightly different options. This is a bugger. Let's give it a go with my credit card. Thankfully, that works.

I decide to head to the shops at the back of the university. There's a convenience store and that bottle shop. I get some soft drinks in the former and a bottle of wine for Dolores in the latter. By the time I get back to the hotel, I've been walking for 80 minutes. I'm still feeling rough. The walk hasn't helped at all. The contrary, in fact.

Christoph Flaskamp is supposed to be picking up a couple of us at 11:15 to go his brewery for a barbecue. Stan and John Roberts have cancelled, because their flight has been brought forward. So it's just me and Michael Hall, former head of the BJCP.

I start getting worried about 11:30. At 11:40, Michael Hall, who’s getting a lift as well, gets a message from Christoph. He's running a little late. It's almost midday when he rolls up. (Michael is former head of the BJCP. But I don’t hold that against him.) He’s a soft-spoken, friendly man.

The drive to the brewery is interesting. It looks a lot less first world after we leave Santiago. There are bright orange flowers everywhere. I ask Christoph what they are. He doesn't seem to know: "A spring flower." Is the best he can come up with. I could have guessed that.

When he finds out my wife is German we start discussing language.

“What language do you speak at home?”

“English.” I reply. “When the kids were small I wouldn’t respond if they spoke to me in English.”

“I speak to mine in German. But they answer in Spanish.”

“It was easier for us, as neither are Dutch.”

The barbecue is in full swing when we arrive, with around 100 guests getting stuck into the beers enthusiastically. As it’s an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink event, that shouldn’t be a surprise. And, to be fair, it is quite warm.

Christoph gives us a quick tour of his brewery. It looks much like every other modern brewery: loads of stainless steel things in a shed.

Chris introduces me to his partner, Martin Flannery. Owner of Flannery’s Beerhouse. He has some weird tales of importing Guinness into Chile. And eventually being told to stop. That’s why he teamed up with Chris: to brew a Guinness substitute for his two Irish pubs. We try a glass. It’s pretty nice. With a good creamy head from the use of nitrogen.

We start to chat about Guinness serving methods. His parents ran a pub in the West of Ireland when he was a kid. He can remember when Guinness still came from the wood. His mum would put some casks next to the fire and leave some in the cold. The warm ones became the high cask, the one with highly carbonated beer. The cold ones were the low cask, with flatter beer. Every pint served was a combination of the two. It’s the same concept as the Belfast Guinness Porter.

I meet one of my fellow judges, a young Colombian woman, now living in Chile, with whom I’d not spoken before. She smiles all the time. It’s infectious. I’m starting to crack a grin more often. And I’m a right miserable old git.

Chris gives me the nod when the barbecue is ready so we’re at the head of the queue. Great. I hate waiting for stuff. A couple of big lumps of meat on each of our plates, we sit down to eat. This rather pleasant, eating al fresco. There’s potato salad, rice and tomato salad, too. It’s all rather nice.

“Why are some people drinking from real glasses?” I ask Chris. We’ve got the plastic cups the bar is serving in.

“They’ve bought them in the shop. Do you want one?”

I wasn’t dropping a hint, but I’m not going to turn one down. Chris comes back with a bag, a baseball cap and a six pack, as well as the glass. The beer definitely tastes better from the real glass.

We drink a bit more beer, but can’t linger long. Mike has a plane to catch. Chris will drop him off at the airport then carry on to my hotel.

I’m glad we make the detour to the airport. I’m dying for a wee when we get there.

“Is it OK if I go to the toilet, Chris?” Not adding the other possibility: me pissing inside his car.

“No problem. I’ll wait here.”

Sweet relief is soon at hand. Er, so to speak.

The week’s last event, the award ceremony, is tonight at eight. It’s in a different part of the same university. I’ve a couple hours to write emails, waste time looking at tweets and stare in literal incomprehension at the TV.

I walk down by myself. But soon find some chums to chat with. And some beer to drink, obviously.

It’s really packed. All the seats are taken. I have to stand at the side. It’s not particularly comfortable as people keep pushing past. It’s not their fault, No other way to get through. But it’s a constant struggle to keep my beer intact. Obviously, that’s the most important. Wouldn’t want to lose any beer. Or spill it over someone.

I hear my name called. That’s nice. People start motioning. I have to go on stage. OK, not so sure about that. But there are a few dozen others so I don’t stand out like the fat, old git that I am.

There’s some very enthusiastic applause for some of the winners. Especially the Argentinian breweries.

They wander around with canapey sort of food. I have a few bits, but that barbecue has right filled me up.

I don’t stay too late. Outside, where I’m trying to remember which direction is home, I bump into another attendee. Who has a car and drives me back. That’s a relief. I’m knacked again. And I need to be up fairly early. My lift to the airport is at 9:30.

The week has been amazing. Like a summer school for pissheads. The most continuous fun I’ve had for years.

Just time for a quick pisco before the god of sleep plucks me from this earth.

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

My trip was paid for by Copa Cervezas de América  

1 comment:

Professor Pie-Tin said...

"a summer school for pissheads"
Great stuff Ron.
Your South American adventure has been a delight to read.