The kids are on holiday. I've already told you that. Bear with me. We aren't going away, so they'll have to make do with days out.
Today we went to Bodegraven and Leiden.
Lexie has strange ideas about windmills. He thinks they are all breweries. Not without reason. The only two windmills he's been in are both breweries: Het Ij and De Molen. We were in the latter today. All the way back he kept saying "Look dad - there's a brewery." I didn't like to disillusion him.
Holland's microbreweries are of variable quality. (That's the poilite way of saying lots of them are crap.) The good ones can be counted on the fingers of a guillotine operator - three. Lexie wasn't far off with his windmill connection. And there's De Schans, too.
I've never had a bad beer from De Molen. Today did nothing to change that. If anything my opinion went up. The Rasputin slipped down a treat. And only 11%. A real session beer. The brewer showed me his malt store. I felt honouerd and humbled. He even let me chew some of his Special B malt. Very nice. It tasted even better once transformed into beer.
I like variety. I was in two pubs today with three standard-strength pilsners on draught. What's the point in that? Heineken, Amstel and Brand. Here's what they had on in De Molen: Spezial (don't ask me to explain what that is precisely - lager, pale, 5.6% ABV), Bitter, Saison, Stout, Tripel, Imperial Stout. I'll forgive anyone duplication when it comes to Stout. If he'd had a Mild on, I would have offered to bear his children.
I only mention Rasputin (the Imperial Stout) to taunt you. He brews it just once a year in very limited quantities. It's wonderful stuff. You have about two weeks to get to Bodegraven, judging by the depleted shelves, if you want to try the 2007 vintage. Why do I mention a beer most of you have no chance of sampling? Revenge. That simple. You gits over the Atlantic keep teasing me with unobtainable (and thus unverifiable) wonders. This is how it feels.
How good is Rasputin? Hang on, I'll consult my notes . . . . 78 out of 100 . . . powerful, but mellow and complex . . . would be better by the pint . . . So you have some point of reference, here's what I made of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout: "Waaaaay too sweet, like Irish coffee with 6 extra sugarlumps. Not complex enough for the strength and overpowered by the taste of cheap whisky. 56 out of 100."
Since the closure of the former Firkin in Den Haag, De Molen is the only brewer of cask-conditioned beer in the Netherlands.
The brewer was very friendly. Imperial Stout . . . apologies for the draught beer being slightly too cool . . . telling me the yeast used in each beer . . . I was starting to really like this bloke.
Let's consult my notes again. This afternoon:
- The kids are going crazy so I've taken refuge in the nearest decent-looking pub. How can they be so psychopatheic without psychedelics? No wonder everyone thinks my parenting skills are between Homer Simpson's and Stalin's.
Lexie just tried eating his glass . . . Excuse me if this review seems hurried. We may be off to casualty soon.
Brown cafe. Henry VIII pub sign. Views of windmill. Next to a canal.
"Spit out the crunchy bits." That's my advice to Lexie. Though he's been annoying enough in the last 15 minutes for me to not be [before you start accusing me of sloppy grammar, I'll point out that I don't believe in square-peg-hammered-into-round-hole pseudo-Latin rules like split infinitives] that bothered.
Why would a pub sell 3 different Pils [what is the plural of Pils? Pilss. With a silent "l"?]? Probably for the same reason that UK piubs sell 4 or 5 Bitters of pretty much the same strength. Why does the world so often choose to be dull rather than interesting?
When I go out by myself I have to invent the craziness (sometimes). With the kids along, it's always there.
"The good boys get a bag of chips."
"I don't need chips, dad." [Andrew]
"That's OK, you're behaving yourself anyway."
"Can I get a court order to keep Alexei 5 metres away from me?" [Andrew]
"Can I drink your beer dad?" [Alexei]
I'm such a good dad.
Numbers, I've got numbers. I've got numbers, who could ask for anything more? You can't imagine how many. They'll last far longer than your attention. Even I started nodding off compiling them.
Tomorrow it will be beer consumption per capita. Unless something more noteworthy occurs. Or "The Story of Watneys" contains real gems. Or I change my mind. The world is an uncertain place.