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[Brewing the Land]

There is a word "kamosu" in Japanese. A dictionary search reveals that it means to ferment koji to make sake or soy sauce, or to brew. The name "koji" is said to be a corruption of the adjective "kamosi." Another meaning of brewing is "to produce a certain state, atmosphere, etc.".

Belgium is a small European country with approximately 10 million people living in a land roughly 70% the size of Kyushu. However, it has more than 1,000 different brands of beer, and the amount of beer consumed per capita is said to be about twice that of Japan. The city of Louvain, where I stayed, is one of the oldest cities in Belgium, with the world's oldest university (1425) still in existence, and there are many breweries in the area. Unlike the lager beers that are often consumed in Japan (bottom-fermented beers that are fermented at a lower temperature for a longer period of time), most of the beers are aromatic ales (top-fermented beers that are fermented at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time and thus produce more esters, an aromatic component during fermentation) or naturally fermented (beers that are fermented in a natural environment using wild yeast that is floating in the air). This is probably because most beers are spontaneously fermented (using wild yeast floating in the air and fermenting in a natural environment).

In Belgium, in particular, there is a beer called "lambic," which is made with wild yeast and bacteria found only in the valley of the Senne River, which flows through the Pajottenland region. In addition to spontaneous fermentation, the unique brewing method of long aging for three years, as well as the bacteria involved in lactic acid fermentation in addition to the alcohol fermentation bacteria, gives it a complex aroma and sour taste. The long fermentation process also results in a very dry taste, as the yeast eats up all the sugar contained in the wort. The fermentation in wooden casks and the bubbles resulting from the alcoholic fermentation are almost completely released into the air, which nurtures a unique "brew" that cannot be tasted anywhere else.

The lambic with this strong character is soaked with extracts of cherries and raspberries, and then second fermented in the bottle to produce a type of lambic called "creek." The fresh sweetness of the lambic has a unique flavor that lingers in the mouth. There is also "gueuze," which has a strong character and is made easier to drink by adding young lambic, and "faro," which is a young lambic with added sugar, but each is a wonderful drink that can be enjoyed to the fullest, as is typical of Belgian beer and the local brewing style.

You don't see much food among Belgians around their beer. I thought it was because they were enjoying the beer purely, but it turns out that the rich, high-alcohol Belgian beer has enough calories by itself to fill up their stomachs. 

The people of Louvain, chatting happily with beer in their hands under the midnight sky, blended in with the beautiful cityscape of the ancient capital, creating an indescribably good atmosphere.

Hirota Glass' Sori Yanagi Wine Glass
SyuRo's Glass