The Imbibing Scribe: Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

This month’s column: “On the Peculiar Pleasures of Reuniting with a Long-Abandoned Former Favorite Frothy Friend”

First, let me state that my wife, a brilliant and wonderful woman in many respects (other than her questionable taste in men) has a sharp and well-developed beer palate. She is, in fact, a kind of tasting partner. Last week, she went to the store to find a dark beer before the Spring beers take over the beer section. She came back with some stout for herself, and something for me.

“I saw something you used to love,” she said. I opened the bag from Total Wine to find a six pack of Leffe Brune. When I first started exploring high-end beer, the Brune was, indeed a go-to. The Blonde is nearly ubiquitous and, truth be told, a little blazé. The Brune on the other hand, I drank a ton of. But, that was six or seven years ago. I had moved on to other things, and hadn’t ever cycled back around.

Leffe is an old monastery. In the fifties, it became the first Belgian monastery to sign a commercial brewing agreement with an outside company. However, these days, it’s owned by InBev, so there’s no telling how much of their original quality is retained without jumping in and tasting it yourself.

Five minutes later, two Brunes are in the appropriate glassware and we’re both sitting down to see if it’s as good as I remember. The verdict? Well, it’s malty, rich, dark and delicious. The particular carbonation that Belgians all seem to have gives it a velvety texture, almost like a Guinness with a nitro canister. I suddenly remembered why I drank it so much in the first place.

The whole experience reminded me of a situation I had a few months ago with music. I hadn’t listened to Jimi Hendrix in years, and I’ve sort of moved on sonically from when I was a huge Hendri-phile. But then, out of sheer curiosity, I popped in Electric Ladyland, and I suddenly remembered everything I loved about it, and how much my love for that drove me into other sounds.

I’m not saying Leffe Brune is the Jimi Hendrix of beers, but I am saying that, just because your palate has grown and matured doesn’t mean that the things you used to like are of lesser value. Go back and try an old friend, and see why you loved it in the first place.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go down to Total Wine and pick up another six of Leffe Brune.


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