The press is on strike. Now there’s a thing. We have been unable to buy our French newspaper, Aujourd’hui, with the weather maps for the coming four days. Quite why the press thinks that a strike would adversely affect many people given today’s access to information on the Internet is beyond me but there you have it – on strike they are. IMHO, since I do not care if Mrs. Brown’s cat has been stuck up a tree, a press strike simply saves our wasting too much paper. We hooked ourselves in to farmer Luc’s free wifi and checked out the weather forecasts.
When to head north is always a source of debate for us. We have to be in Normandy on Saturday evening for a ferry on Sunday at about midday. It can be done in two days but we’re wondering whether to pause en route to check out the Pinail Trail near Poitiers. The Pinail is home to some fairly special Odos and, after careful studying of the weather maps on Meteo France, the source of the weather maps withheld by the on strike press, we have decided to drag ourselves away from our beloved sheep farm at Fanjeaux and head north tomorrow to enable a 1-day visit.
We returned from Bram market just before midday, paid Nadine for her hospitality and settled down for a relaxing beer o’clock. 12 0’clock midday is beer o’clock, assuming that it is warm enough. Today, it is warm enough even though the sky is dull. Here, with the aid of a little fill-in flash, are our chosen beer o’clock tipples, Francine favouring the Dutch Hoegaarden import (a white wheat beer), myself favouring the pleasantly malty Pelforth Blonde.
It is worth a few words, all personal opinion, about the state of beer brewing. In my view the Belgians have always been the masters of beer but Britain had an enviable reputation. We risk losing it. I like stronger beers, not because I like getting rolling drunk but because I prefer the flavour of stronger brews. For me, beer needs to be at about 5% ABV before it is really worth the time and effort. SO-called “session beers” at about 3.5% have always been a complete waste of time and money. There is a disturbing trend in England to reduce the alcohol content of beers in the UK these days, where 4% beers appear to be becoming popular. Even Stella Artois, ruined under license in the UK and always a pale shadow of the Belgian original, has reduced in strength from 5.2% to 5.0% with and equivalent reduction in flavour. Sad stuff!
France has never, as far as I’m aware, been held in high regard as a brewing nation but, once you get away from the boring regular Kronenberg and “33” products much loved of supermarket-raiding British day-trippers, it is actually very good. Many years ago I discovered Lutèce, a splendidly dark, malty Parisian brew clocking in at 6.5%. More widely known are their Bière-du-Garde and Jenlain offerings, all very tasty.
Back to my Pelforth which is reasonably widely available in supermarchés. Pelforth actually produces three beers, blonde, ambre and brune. The blonde, at 5.8%, is the weakest of the three. The brown is, I think, 6.5%. Here is a nation that understands that beer should be sipped and appreciated rather than glugged in vast quantity until one’s stomach is unpleasantly distended.
I love this sign on the cans, too. With the alcohol at 5.8%, this is clearly a warning to men that they shouldn’t drink so many cans that they start trying to make women pregnant. The Hoegaarden carries a similar symbol but it is smaller, presumably because Hoegaarden is weaker (4.9%) thus making the risk lower.