Belgium continues to uphold its reputation as the world’s most livable failed state. More than six months after the national elections, the country still hasn’t got a new government.
The political leaders of French speakers and Flemish speakers can’t seem to agree on anything that might bring back a sense of normality here, and a popular movement has emerged to protest their fecklessness and highlight the absurdity of it all, with men agreeing not to shave until a new cabinet is decided.
This seems a perfect moment, therefore, to remind everyone of at least one thing that brings the Walloons and Flemish together: beer. So, I’ll taste one from each side of the divide today. In fact, these beers come from opposite ends of the country, with Mont Saint Aubert Blonde Triple being produced right up against the French border in Wallonia and Scheldebrouwerij Mug Dryhop Special coming from the far reaches of Flanders, just a step or two away from the Netherlands.
Of course, deciding which one to have first could have caused a problem. But rather than getting bogged down in months of negotiations, I just flipped a coin. (There may be a lesson in there for some people...)
Mont Saint Aubert Blonde Triple won the toss, and we shared it with a dear friend, alongside whom we've travelled many miles and enjoyed many beers over the years. This 750ml bottle has been another one sitting in my "to-taste case" for several months. It hails from the Brasserie de Brunehaut, makers of such fine beers as St Martin Blonde.
The taste was smooth and creamy, with a hint of orange peel and marzipan. Fiona found it slightly too sour, but I think it’s quite good. I’d easily go for another bottle.
But in the spirit of unity and reconciliation, I move on to a Flemish beer, Mug Dryhop Special from the Scheldebrouwerij, makers of Wildebok and some other excellent beers I became a fan of at the Belgian Beer Weekend in September, back when the country had only been without a government for a mere two or three months.
As for taste, there’s no hiding the “hop” part of “Dryhop Special” here. Mug is bitter florals all over. The mouthfeel is somewhat thin and watery rather than creamy. Alcohol level is a low 5%. It’s all very refreshing and moreish.
So, two solid beers, one Walloon and one Flemish, about which everyone can agree.