BOTD – Klokke Roeland Amber
WHY DID I NOT KNOW THAT DOUBLE DECKER TRAINS EXISTED? I feel like it’s been a revelation that changed my life slightly. Anyway, I boarded one of said trains on the way to Ghent from Brussels and I thoroughly enjoyed my journey – I was just one step away from hanging my head out the crack in the top floor window like a dog. I don’t even like trains that much, but being up that little bit higher changes everything.
Ghent was sleepy. Being a Sunday, I guess I should have given it the benefit of the doubt, but after Brussels, arriving in the quiet, overcast town was slightly unimpressive. Getting lost (obviously) on route from the station didn’t go any lengths to changing my mind. Neither did a stubborn hangover, which had reared its ugly head after the excitement of the train journey had passed – did I mention that some trains in Belgium have two floors?
I felt obliged to do some touristy stuff so I mingled with the coach loads of the happy-snappers and headed to the cathedral on the main square. I was only really there to see the Mystic Lamb painting. I probably stood staring at the thing for about 15 minutes before I started to get really creeped out by it.
Old stuff is scary.
I’d done my obligatory cathedral tour so I headed for the Dulle Griet, as by this point it was nearly 4pm and I desperately needed something strong to take the edge off the terrifying cathedral. With a novella-like menu I opted for a full-proof Judas – having had it once before at La Trappist in Canterbury I knew it was a safe bet and I needed something quenching.
I only stayed there 30 minutes or so, mainly because a lot like the rest of the city it was fairly dead and I wanted food. I instead carried on walking around the side streets, trying to get my bearings (getting lost, not finding food and continuing to drink instead). I happened upon a place overlooking the canal called Het Waterhauis Aan De Bierkant. A really traditional beer bar with, football playing on the screens inside and a very interesting toilet.
Before getting to grips with the revolving WC I thought it best to fill my bladder. I opted for a Klokke Roeland and a Mammelocker, two rather different ambers. The former, an insatiably strong beer with a fair amount of strong malty, caramel flavours coming through first before a clean dry finish. The latter lacked the punch that the Klokke Roeland packed, and in hindsight I should have drank them in reverse order. Still, it poured a deepish amber colour and held onto some strong dark fruity flavours, only without the complexity of the former, without dropkicking me in the face with ABV.
After the football had finished, I went outside and ordered a Duvel Triple Hop to sit with while the sun set over the canal – oh so romantic if you’re with someone but still pretty enjoyable, and not the least bit depressing, when you’re on your own.
I then clocked the specialist jenever-only bar, ‘t Dreupelkot, directly behind me, so sampled some of the obscure flavours they had. The phrase ‘it’s like going back in time’ gets bounced around a lot when discussing Belgian bars/restaurants/cafes, but this was positively 1800’s. Kiwi and hazelnut were my misinformed choices. I’m sure jenever connoisseurs would scoff at the fact I thought the hazelnut flavour was reminiscent of nutella stirred into a watered down Bombay Sapphire and the kiwi an imperial limoncello, but alas.
By this point the toilet had already blown my mind even more than the DOUBLE DECKER TRAIN so upon the epiphany that my life wasn’t really going to get any better than this; I decided to stumble back to the hotel to bed.