Tuesday, 9 March 2010
ZBF 2010 (part two)
The onions had been poaching in the grease at the bottom of the hot plate. As I took my first bite, an orange stream of it trickled down my hand. "That'll be great for my stomach." I thought. The bratwurst shot out some more grease onto my hand. I love health food.
My stomach fully coated with grease, it was time to explore. First stop was the SAS stand. No, there were no human killing machines there. Just an odd collection of quite old-fashioned beers, including Leroy Stout, one of the four Stouts at the festival. But I've had that one before. Bit sweet for my taste. So instead I went for a Christmas Scotch. It was crap. But, as there were only 15cls, it was soon dispatched to the grease pit.
Sugar-free Tripel. That caught my eye at the de Graal booth. I thought sugar was essential to get the light body (for the strength) of a Tripel? I bought one to see. And you know what? You don't really need sugar in a Tripel. It was a perfectly liquid example and it no way heavy or cloying. I'd never have known they'd passed on the sugar.
On the way back to my seat, I bumped into Jezza P of the Burgundian Babblebelt. After we'd been chatting a couple of minutes, a gorgeous local girl inexplicably joined our conversation. Maybe she has a thing for dimensionally-challenged, old English blokes. Or maybe it was Jezza. Naaah, who could resist my beautiful face? I would have stopped to chat longer, but my glass was empty. Not even a blonde stunner can keep me from beer for long.
Braustelle in Cologne. He's only a few years older than Andrew, but disturbingly well-drunk (I don't mean pissed, but the beery equivalent of well-read). They beers were different-strength versions of a sort of Lichtenhainer. That is, smoked, sour, wheat beers. Rather pleasant and definitely unusual. They are commercially available under the names Freigeist Abraxas and Freigeist Abraxxxas. Not sure where from, but you might be lucky.
All too soon our time was up. And I still had three token left. I hate wasting things. Even things I haven't paid for (the tokens were the free ones you get for being a member of and EBCU organisation). Fortunately, Andrew had finished off his bottle of water. Three Glazen Toren Tripels fitted perfectly in the empty. No need to look for cans of Gordon's Finest Gold in Antwerp.
I recognised a familiar face on the platform as we waited for our train to Antwerp: Fred Waltman. Our paths hadn't crossed inside the hall. We caught up as we stood in the crowded train. The slightly-behind-schedule, crowded train. Antwerp station, on three levels, is a bit of a 3-D puzzle. Too much of one for us and we missed our connecting train. Not a total disaster. Especially for Mike. He'd wanted to the bakery of Astrid Plein on the way out, but we hadn't had time. Now we had a full hour. I got myself a half baguette sandwich.
We still had 45 minutes to wait. I tried to drag Mike and Andrew into a noisy, grotty-looking pub just off Astrid Plein. "I'm not going in there, dad." "I'll take that as a maybe." The grand bar in the station was more to their taste. It's an impressive sight, with a 10 metre-high ceilng and, loads of marble and gilding. And they sell Westmalle Tripel. That and a couple of jenevers were exactly what I needed. So that's what I had.
Of course, we had to piss around changing in Rotterdam again. But the jenevers and the water bottle full of Tripel knocked the edges off any annoyance. And I was home in plenty of time for Match of the Day. I celebrated with a St. Bernerdus Abt.