Back in my early beer geek days, I explored the landlocked fields of Belgium via the sunny sandy beaches of Vero Beach, Florida long before my own landlocked fields of irresistible beery temptation. Exploring the wide world of beers beyond my own windswept shores was more tantalizing, intriguing, and approachable than delving into what was then (in my mind) a rather chaotic home-state of craft beer affairs. Now my beery horizons linger near and as far away as the quaint town of Saignelegier, Switzerland. The vast world of artisanal fermented treasures is as approachably real as the sudsy nectar kissing one’s lips while flavors aplenty unravel in sensual scintillation.
But where does Belgium fall within all this new world beerness?
For a country so small, Belgium’s self-indulgent veracity for beer, food, and the powers that provide such visceral pleasures burgundism is no better proof of the good life. A contradiction of pride, humility, and faith rounds out their burgundian palate for which I have great personal affinity. Everywhere beer has taken me and continues to take me, I know without a doubt tis in continued thanks to Belgium.
Which brings me and my Love to the 2nd Annual Belgian Beer Fest at Coasters of Melbourne Beach. I missed last year’s inaugural fest but was determined not to miss this year's. So with my Love at my side, we sauntered up the road for a slice of Belgian bliss in sunny Florida.
After lazing around Vero together, Laura and I hit the interstate to make our way norther and faster. Naturally, I prefer the slow scenic cruise north via A1A but time was of the essence and beer was calling. The parking lot was deceptively sparse given the illusion of shopping plaza largesse, bur the packed quarters revealed beyond Coaster’s weather worn green doors spoke otherwise. Standing room only, we smuggled our way close enough to the bar to grab the attentions of the beertender and ordered a round to savor in waiting. The beer in question was none other than a collaborative brew between Coasters and Cigar City especially for Belgian Beer Fest 2011, an Abbey Dubbel brewed with plantains and raisins. As with all things that Cigar City brews, twas a divine concoction of earth, funk, hops, and Belgian inspiration with a Florida twist. Tempted by another round, I nonetheless explored other tasty pastures with a Scaldis 12 and finished with the long-missed Rodenbach Classic.
Adrift at sea, lost in customs, stuck in distribution…whatever the reason, the Rodenbach Classic has not graced our shores in years. Ironically, of the three Belgian beers I savored that night the Rodenbach Classic was the least pleasing. Maybe it has been too long since my tastebuds and she have commiserated, but overall I found her weak, watery, and nothing like her previously vaunted legacy. Others may ratchet it up to disassociation and delusion but I trust these tastebuds and I trust the beery recollections they are associated with. Having acquired similar sentiment from another fellow Belgian enthusiast long familiar with her tasteful designs, I hold doubly firm in my conclusions.
Food wise, Coasters specializes in pub grub and darn good pub grub at that. As our glasses slowly emptied, so too did our helpings of spinach artichoke dip and chips with salsa and cheese. Between the beers and the nibblies, Laura and mine inner Burgundians were duly sated.
Sharing in the jolly festivities (albeit at a different table) was fellow burgundian-in-arms, Jim Masterson. Other Veroites also made the trek northward to savor three days of beers and pubbery during the weekend of February 11th. We only made it up to Melbourne for the 12th but twas a Saturday night well spent. With midnight creeping round the bend, we cruised south along the mystical route of A1A to hearth and home. Love in hand, heart and belly sated, soul aglow, life was truly good. With another successful Belgian Beer Fest under their belt, I look forward to seeing how in 2012 Coasters bests themselves at the Burgundian game of life.
(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)