My First Belgian
This post is part of the Session which is being hosted this month by Belgian Smaak. The theme of this month’s session is Belgian Beer and the rules are wide open. We’ll be hosting the Session next month, which you can check out here.
There are a few beers that when you drink them for the first time they burn into your memory. You never forget them. Just like the first time I had Blue Moon. Ha! Sorry, I just had to say Blue Moon somewhere in this article because I know soooo many beer bloggers love that wonderful brew. I don't hate Blue Moon, and for good or bad I am sure it was the first Belgian style beer I ever had, but this post is not about that beer. Alright, let me back up. There are some beers that stick out when you flip through your memory catalog. I don’t know exactly what my first Belgian beer was, but I do vividly recall the first time I had a Rochefort 10.
There are extraordinary things in the world, and here, to give some context, I imagine some equivalents for what my first experience with Rochefort was like:
- Moses parting the Red Sea
- The Apollo Moon Landings
- The building of the Great Wall of China
- The first time humans created fire
Yes, that’s what good beer can do. A friend and I shared a bottle at the Falling Rock Tap House, here in Denver. I had no idea how rich and complex beer could be until I took that first sip. You could taste a story and a richness that I didn’t even know was possible in beer. I can still see that glass sitting at the edge of that bar. Oh, how beautiful. Much like Botticelli’s Venus.
At the time, Trappist beers had just begun to show up a few select places in Denver. I think the price was $14.00 for a bottle. $14!!! I couldn’t believe a beer could be so expensive. Can you imagine paying $14 for a bottle of beer? And a small one at that?! I probably would have had a heart attack to see the prices listed on a beer menu today. The point being, this was a ridiculous splurge for me. In a way the pricing already set up the expectations. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the most I had every spent on a single beer up to that point. In fact, I thought it so expensive I had to share it with a friend to justify the cost in my mind. I know what you are thinking: I am cheap. No, it was just such a radical departure from my understanding of beer economics. To me, back then, $14 should be at least 12 beers. Now, of course, I think $14! That’s a bargain! No, wait, I don’t really think that. That’s still a lot of money for a beer. Ok, I am cheap.
After that first sip, I didn’t think about the money at all. I just tried to picture where the beer had been. How was this beer made? Why was it so different from every other beer I have ever had? I still don’t feel like a fully understand this. I’ve homebrewed many tasty Belgian styles, but I’ve never created the magic of Rochefort. Maybe one day I will, but I still can’t believe how good this beer can be. There are many other amazing Belgian beers. In fact we had a blind tasting of some of the best and wrote about it here. Where do you think the Rocheford landed in that tasting? Well I am going to click bait you on that one and make you read the whole post. But there’s something special about that first one that opens your eye to what is possible.