Beer & Braai in Paris with a Y

You may think the title says it all, but the story of how we got there is a lot more entertaining.

For a while now, light-hearted banter has been bouncing back and forth on Twitter between myself, Gareth AKA @BraaiBoy and Jorge AKA @BraaiWeather; mostly about beer and braai and the weather required for partaking in these activities. Jorge, being a native of Belgium has a particularly delightful way with the English language and this shines through in some of his tweets.

One day Jorge tagged a braai manufacturer @Chad-O-Chef (Derick) in one of his tweets while inviting myself and Gareth to come and test this equipment out. Which is to say Gareth to braai and me to bring the beer. Of course we played along with this light hearted conversation, while not realizing that Jorge was in fact quite serious.

Email addresses were exchanged and I didn’t think much more about it.

The filming of the season ending show for “Opgetof” (on Via TV – DSTV channel 147) was to take place in Paris with a Y in the Free state. Jorge reckoned that these celebrity types would need some beer and food for the show and that Gareth would be the ideal chap to do the braaing. Derick immediately stepped up to the plate and offered his braai equipment.  Gareth had to swap some events around and pretty soon everything was arranged.

I was not sure what sort of beer these people would like so I settled on our very own #BatShitCrazy American Blonde Ale. My thoughts were that it was an easy enough drinking beer and would compliment any of the foods that Gareth decided to prepare. The beer in itself is a very simple grain bill with only a base malt and a small percentage of specialty malt. It also uses only one single hop and as a single bittering addition. The beer was brewed and conditioned and soon enough the big day arrived.

I had some niggling thoughts in the back of my head about the people I would be serving so I stopped off at the local bottle store in Parys and procured various commercial beers that I thought these celebrity types might enjoy – just to be safe.

Jorge had got the weather right. The day was stunning. Clear blue skies and a nice summer day. My part was easy – it doesn’t take much to hook up a draft tower to a keg and gas. I must admit, I am no expert on braai-equipment, but the stuff Derick bought along was really solid. Nice shiny stainless steel and really well put together. The braai is known as a hybrid and one can use either gas, wood or your fuel of choice. And it is really easy to clean to boot. Next to arrive was Gareth. I kid you not folks, he arrived in a costume. I felt a little out of place with my brewers uniform of jeans and crocs, but I suppose we can’t all have a superhero costume like Gareth.

I on the other hand was getting my first of the curious celebrity types. The first one cautiously started with a small flute of beer and then later returned for a full pint size. As the word spread, the new celebs would go straight for the pint size. I am sure a lot of it had to do with the delicious aromas that were coming from Gareth and the hybrid next to me. Gareth was simultaneously preparing BRM Ribs, Cheesegrillers, Wings, Fruit skewers and Bacon-wrapped sweet potatoes. The man knows his thing and the hybrid kept right up with him.

The one thing I must admit is – this is the first time I have brewed for a festival or gathering that is not beer orientated. I was rather nervous, because normally the festivals I brew for revolve around people that want craft beer and know a bit about it. This event was very refreshing. I had to explain the story of the name behind the #BatShitCrazy Blonde Ale, the mechanisms and concepts of brewing and all sorts of funny things beer related. From rather old ducks and oom’s to some rather fit farming types, they all swapped their champagne flutes for our beer. We even won over the hardcore brandy and coke brigade. I was particularly taken by one old duck. Her first words to me – I don’t drink beer. I managed to persuade her to try a glass. I offered her a short flute. Her response was brilliant: “Young man, go big or go home.” Needless to say, she kept coming back to refill her beer glass throughout the day. Better still, she would drag the rest of her bridge club with her to come taste – the “crazy blonde ale”.

I needn’t have worried about bringing any commercial beer with me. Nobody touched it. I was pleasantly surprised with the curiosity of the people that are not really into the craft beer side of things and their genuine willingness to embrace and try beer that is not mainstream. We did run out of beer towards the end of the day, but I took it as a lesson. The food was great, the atmosphere explosive and the company was just excellent.

The million dollar question – will we do this again? There are some rumors floating around, but nothing confirmed. All I can say is that the next one will be an open invite and who knows, maybe we can have a little friendly braai-off between Gareth and our own @thenuttychef.

Jorge has put another challenge to me – I will have to clone the beloved #Duvel from his homeland. I have put together a recipe for it. It will be a challenge, but it will be great.

All photo’s by Jorge (@BraaiWeather)

Cheers in Beers

Craig

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