Last week I mentioned that the Belgian parliament has rejected advice from an independent integrity committee to ban the distribution of free beer and wine to MPs. Free booze was introduced in the late 1990 to discourage parliamentarians from sneaking off to the pub during debates.
This has become quite an issue over the past few days, with some saying that the free booze should be scrapped to improve the quality of debate while others (mainly MPs) have denied that there is any problem at all. However a compromise has now been reached and, while the federal parliament will continue to serve beer and wine, MPs will now be expected to pay for it.
Politico reports that the Belgian beer culture was added on Wednesday to UNESCO’s cultural heritage list for being deep-rooted in the country with breweries, beer tasting associations, museums and events in every province of Belgium.
“It is the unparalleled diversity of the art of brewing and the intensity of the beer culture, as a part of our daily lives and at festivals in our country, that make this beer culture a part of the identity and the cultural heritage of the entire country,” a statement from the culture ministers from the French, German, and Dutch speaking communities of Belgium said.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called upon people to visit the country to taste the beers.
With 214 breweries (PDF) in the country, visitors may find it best to extend their stay.
In my younger days my usual beer was stout. Guinness by default but I always preferred Murphy’s when I could find it. While I have retained a preference for darker beers, living in Belgium has led to my current tendency to go for Abbey and Trappist Dubbels. On Saturday, however, I discovered that Belgian stout is a thing.
While stocking up, I saw a crate of Hercule Stout sitting in the drink shop demanding that I pick it up. So pick it up I did and I took it home and (later) opened a bottle. It’s fantastic.
Hercule Stout is dark, creamy, smooth and everything I want from this type of beer. I will certainly be going back for more.
It’s not often that France comes to mind when I start thinking about beer, but when we were in the country last year I picked up several bottles of La Tourniole. Last night, I finally got around to opening one of these.
La brasserie du Trièves is an artisan brewery, based in Mens, and they do a number of traditionally brewed beers. Brown, blonde and amber were the ones I picked up at the time, and it was the brown that I opened last night.
It’s very good.
The beer has a very rich, very full flavour with a nicely creamy head that reminded me a lot of Pilaarbijter bruin. It’s also very smooth and went down very easily indeed.
I don’t know what, if any, distribution arrangements La Brasserie du Trièves has but when I am next in the area I will certainly be picking up some more of this.
In fact, I found this traditional Flemish brown ale to be very drinkable indeed. It’s light, pleasant and packs quite a complex aftertaste – one that I am still picking my way through. And yes, that does mean that I will be stocking up in the near future.
And if you were wondering about “The Flemish Proverbs” by Pieter Breughel, here it is.
Alcohol was banned at Brazilian football matches in 2003 in an attempt to tackle violence between rival football fans. But with the country hosting the 2014 World Cup, Fifa is demanding that this ban be lifted.
Initially, I was a little confused as to why Fifa would be so worried about football fans’ right to get bladdered. Then I read this:
Brewer Budweiser is a big Fifa sponsor.
That clears up my question, and it also suggests a solution. Why can’t Fifa and Brazil agree to maintain the ban on beer, but allow the sale of Budweiser and other soft drinks?