Monday, July 13, 2020

Going Dutch

Neighbours. As the song goes; everybody needs good neighbours. And short of getting Kylie to move in next door to you, what more could a person ask than to share the delights of Spain with like-minded hispanophiles from across Europe?

Of all our mainland European neighbours I have long felt that the Dutch are closest to the Brits in terms of personality, character and sense of humour. To be fair, that's maybe not too difficult with the French and Germans as the main competition but, even so, your typical Hollander speaks excellent English, they actually like the Brits and (I rest my case m'lud)........they play cricket.

I have always liked the Dutch. As a child I remember we hosted a couple from our twin-town Cuijk who travelled with members of the town band to help celebrate Maldon's (my home town in Essex) 800 years as a Borough. We made them repay the compliment a year or two later by turning up, unannounced, at their front door in Cuijk where they graciously fed the four of us and their eldest boy gave me a football magazine about the then European Cup champions AFC Ajax. The magazine was in Dutch so I couldn't decipher a word of it but it was probably over 40 years before I eventually parted company with it as part of the "you're-fifty-odd-you-never-look-at-them-they-take-up-too-much-room" final reckoning for my football programme collection. Anyway, it's funny how little acts of kindness and generosity stick with you. The meal by the way was excellent although they wouldn't tell us what it was we had eaten. Later we twigged it was probably horse steak which actually wouldn't have fazed us but they probably felt best to keep schtum, just in case.

More latterly I have enjoyed professional dealings over several years with the Dutch staff at the European base of a US company based near Kerkrade in the little testicle that is South East Holland (check it out on a map, near Maastricht and you'll see what I mean). They are lovely people. So you get what I'm saying. We like the Dutch and therefore it was a pleasure to invite round our Dutch neighbours Jason and Kylie last night for some beer tasting. 

Now, it turns out that wherever I go in Europe the beers generally are stronger than we might typically find back home in the UK so the 3.8% to 6.6% range of ABV's we had in store for Jason and Kylie were never likely to faze them. In fact, with Jason having only recently fallen off his boat into the marina and with both of them needing rescuing from the sea by lifeguards three days earlier, I was beginning to suspect that our beer tasting session might actually help sober them up. So, we started off with Mahou IPA (4.5%) and worked our way through Cruzcampo IPA (5.5%), San Miguel's Yakima Valley American IPA (6.1%), Tyris VIPA (3.8%), Damm Inedit (4.8%) and Damm's Complot IPA (6.6%), all of which accompanied by a very acceptable selection of tapas produced by Kylie and Mrs C. 

Of the six different beers we tasted, only two have not previously been pronounced upon by this blog, they being the Damm Inedit and Yakima Valley. The Inedit is a malt and wheat beer brewed with spices and apparently created by Ferran Adria, the world's most award winning chef. Well, I've never heard of the bloke before but if he likes creating tasty beer then that's okay by me and the Inedit is indeed a very tasty and enjoyable beer. The tasting notes describe it as intense and complex on the nose....its sweet spices and fruity notes combine with fresh yeastiness and flowery sensations....the infusion of coriander, liquorice and orange peel permeates the impression on the palate....its subtle, well-integrated carbonation perfectly highlights these tastes in the is creamy, soft and versatile in food pairings....long pleasant aftertaste. And you know what? It's all that. Maybe not one to throw down your neck in a session but rather one to bring out to complement a fine dining experience. So you would think (hope possibly?) that an offering from the brewing giant that is San Miguel might rather pale by comparison but you would be wrong. For me, the Yakima Valley IPA is the find of our four month Covid-enabled Spanish sojourn. Already on my second can as I write this and with google translate apparently on a break, all I can tell you from the San Miguel website notes is that they describe Yakima Valley as refrescante y aromatica. Well, trust me, they are doing it a huge injustice. It is bloody delicious.

And what of Jason and Kylie I hear you ask. Well, they just sank everything we threw at them. The Inedit went down particularly well with Kylie and Mrs C but, to be fair, so did everything else. And as suggested above, we were probably doing them a favour anyway by sobering them up . Anyway, the beer and conversation flowed and by the end of the evening, it was clear that the Brits and the Dutch are indeed European cousins whereas the French and Germans probably only qualify as second cousins (twice removed?). Herman (he from Calblanque - see previous blog) misses the cut completely.

Less than 24 hours after our rather splendid evening came to an end, Jason reported in that his techfoon is kapot. Allow me to translate. Jason is probably back on his 9% Affligem beer and has fallen off his boat again but this time his i-phone has gone with him. The Dutch eh? You just gotta love 'em.

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