Bier drinken in Nederland

The Dutch are a beer drinking society, much like the rest of Northern Europe. Heineken is the most famous of its native brews and its sister beer Amstel, named after the river from which Amsterdam (Dam on the Amstel) derives. Grolsch is another brand, its main offering a very good pilsner, notable for its hinged cap that remains with the bottle. These days all bottles and cans are returnable but these Grolsch bottles have long come with a deposit.

Other beers include La Trappe Trappist Brewery, Brouwerij’t IJ, Brouweri De Molen and Arcense Bierbrouwerij (a term meaning ‘beer brewery.’) And there’s a brand called Brand.

A bit of terminology will help you understand what you are about to drink. A Double is 6-7.5% dark beer. A Triple is a 6-8% strong pale ale. A single, a term that I have never seen in use, is a 4-5% every day beer like a Heineken and the less expensive house brand beers. A ‘witbier’ is what we call a white beer in English, made from wheat versus the usual barley. Indian Pale Ales have become popular in recent years. For a good review of the topic see https://www.expatica.com/nl/lifestyle/food-drink/dutch-beer-100786/

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Texel, one of the Netherland’s craft beers

The Dutch drink a lot of Belgian beers, but little from elsewhere, even the ubiquitous Guinness, one of the most widely distributed beers in the EU. Affligem is a widely available Belgian brew coming in the form of a Double or a Triple. I have seen Duvel and Chifou and a variety of Trappist Beers. To use the term ‘Trappist’ they must be brewed at a Trappist monastery and there must be at least one monk around. There are 13 Trappist brewers, however the¬†International Trappist Association only recognizes 10. In one case the recognition was withdrawn after the last Trappist monk died. That’s picky. The beer is what counts, no?

Since 2010 the craft beer scene has developed extensively as drinkers look for more character in their beverage and seek to support local products. From what I see online there are about 500 of them. Catching up to the Belgians, are we? We like Texel, brewed on the barrier island of that name. It seems to be the most widely available of the craft beers. See Texel’s website

Mons, by chance

On our way to locks outside Mons we were turned back. The Elcuse Havr√© ‘ete en panne,’ the lock was ‘broken down’ in French, said the lock keeper. It should be fixeb bu noon Monday so we had to spend Saturday night and Sunday at the municipal harbor of Mons. It is a city with some significant delights, fortunately.

On Sunday we made for the Grande Place, the central square. It is a lined with buildings from many centuries in multiple styles, attractive nonetheless, with an oval shape center filled with flowers, sculptures and pedestrian walking zones. There are numerous bars and restaurants. Periods of sun and times without rain is enough to fill the square with locals and tourists. As normal in Belgium, there’s a whole lot of beer drinking going on, meaning one beer and an hour or two of conversation.

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Mons City Hall

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Our three beers, as gorgeous to behold as to consume. Later we had some fries!
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From our seat I shot this view of the Grande Place. The area’s buildings are often brightly painted

Mons has been with us since around the 12th century but it was occupied well before that, with neolithic roots.  The Romans called it Castrilocus for the castrum (fort) they built there, evolving into Montes for the mountain and then Mons.  

On Monday we hope to continue our journey, taking a day or more to ascend a series of locks where the locks themselves are lifted, rather than a channel being filled with water.  This technology dates from the early 20th century.  One of these locks rises 75 meters!  I will write about this in the next blog.