I have heard it said that it is about the journey not the destination. I agree with this most of the time but the beer I look forward to every year created an embarrassing start to my Belgian beer journey. Before I go there, I want to talk about the Blues. No, not seasonal affect disorder caused by lack of sunlight that some of us experience during the holidays, but the grimy gut bucket music that I love so much. Listening to Albert King or Albert Collins at the right time can be magical. How I found the blues is reminiscent of how my Holiday beer lead me to my love for Belgian beers.
In the mid-1990’s Eric Clapton, classic rock guitar God and blues maven released an album titled “From the Cradle”. This album was a collection of Clapton covering his favorite blues songs. I was channel surfing when I saw a special on the making of the album. When I heard Clapton playing songs like “I’m Tore Down” I was hooked on a music I had previously avoided. I went and bought From the Cradle and did not stop listening to it for a month. But I did not stop there. I went out and bought music from the people who created the songs Clapton covered; Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Freddie King, B.B. King, and others, and the rest was history. I was a fan of the blues.
I discovered that I love most Belgian beer the same way. A store named Trader Joe’s opened on Haggerty in the mid-2000’s. I was in the store around the Holidays and saw a big bottle of beer named “Trader Joes 2010 Vintage Ale”. I bought it and drank it Christmas day. It was a Strong Belgian Dark Ale and it was amazing. Yes, my favorite Holiday beer is from the same people that sell 3 Buck Chuck, the cheap wine your in-laws make you choke down over the holidays. This beer however is made for Trader Joe’s by Unibroue, the same brewery that makes amazing Belgian style beers like La Fin Du Monde. This beer opened the Belgian floodgates for me and just like blues music I had to go out and try the pioneers. Now I am a fan of Belgian beers.
Every year around Thanksgiving they release the dated bottle of ale and I buy it. In 2013 I started buying a bottle to age since these beers are bottle conditioned and will age in the bottle beautifully.
In the case of Blues and Belgian beers I may have taken a strange route to where I am today, but at least I got here.