Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oakland bierkroeg

A few days ago we visited the Oakland bierkroeg known as The Trappist. A bierkroeg is a special place where beer connoisseurs sample fancy and hard-to-find beers in exotic settings that -in the olden days at least- included lot of tobacco smoke. Now that the smoke has cleared in all but the most rural kroegen, the eclectic character of the bierkroeg is even more apparent.

The Trappist, while smokeless and extensively decorated with Belgian memorabilia is a different experience altogether. It is a rather crowded, noisy bar similar to the ones you would find near a college campus in Leuven or Gent. Although the public is a bit older than your average student, many appear to have never left those golden days. On many nights it is standing room only at the Trappist.

The beer selection however, is better than anything you can find on this side of the Atlantic and The Trappist does serve beer in its appropriate glass, which is highly unusual in the States. As you might imagine The Trappist sells a lot of trappist beers, but they also have other Belgian and American brews.

Trappist, front bar. Large selection on tap.

The Trappist has a large selection of beers on tap, but all bottled beers are stored in a standard refrigerator, something that would send chills down the spine of any bona fide Belgian bierkroeg owner.

As luck would have it, on the night we visited, The Trappist had a special on real Trappist beers, albeit from the only Trappist Abbey that is not Belgian: La Trappe, located in the Netherlands. The bar had pulled out all the stops for the event and served all varieties made at La Trappe, including some extra special ones, like the Quadrupel oak.

La Trappe, authentic Trappist, from Holland.

True to my Belgian nature I ordered a Tripel Karmeliet, an abbey-style beer that is brewed by Brouwerij Bosteels in Buggenhout, while my companion had a real La Trappe Isid'or.  The La Trappe is on the left in the picture below. The Karmeliet in its specially designed glass, sporting a Fleur de Lys, is on the right. The Karmeliet is a wonderful beer that has won several awards in international competitions.

Although the Karmeliet was very good, it cannot -in my opinion- compare to the Duvel, my all time favorite beer. Brouwerij Moortgat has recently introduced a new Duvel, the Triple Hop in the States. We had one last week and it is every bit as good as I expected, albeit a bit pricey at nearly $20 a bottle.

Tripel Hop
While we are anxiously awaiting the season opener, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, to be held this Saturday, I am happy to inform you that Bjorn Leukemans' bottom is healing fine. The rider was in the news earlier this week because he was struggling with a deep seated boil on his rear end.

I leave you with this dramatic photo of clouds over San Francisco. If all goes as forecast, we may have snow by the weekend. Bay Area peaks such as Mt. Tam, Mt. Hamilton and Mt. Diablo are already covered in the white stuff that is predicted to hit an all time low this coming Saturday. I have yet to experience snow on the ground in the 25 odd years that I have lived here. But as they say, there is a first for everything.

Looking over SF Bay

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