Today is the 63rd birthday of Carl Kins, who lives in Belgium, but judges all over the world. I’ve judged beer competitions with Carl in Japan, Australia, his native Belgium and the United States, too. Carl’s an active member of the ECBU, the European Consumers Beer Union, and Zythos. And most importantly, he has a great palate, and is a terrific person to spend time with talking about beer, or anything else. Join me in wishing Carl a very happy birthday.
Today is the traditional birthday of Gambrinus, sometimes called King Gambrinus, considered to be a patron saint of beer, brewing and/or Belgian beer. Not an “official” saint, at least not in the catholic church, but a legendary figure. Regardless, join me in drinking a toast to King Gambrinus today.
Here’s the overview at Wikipedia:
Gambrinus is a legendary king of Flanders, and an unofficial patron saint of beer or beer brewing. Gambrinus is variously depicted as a European king, as an English knight of the Middle Ages, or (less commonly) as a plump old man. Gambrinus’ birthday is purported to be April 11.
The origin of the character is most widely believed to be John the Fearless (1371–1419), who some also believe to be the inventor of hopped malt beer. However, other sources report that one of the cup-bearers in the court of Charlemagne (742–814) was also called Gambrinus. In 1543, the German poet Burkart Waldis wrote of Gambrinus, explaining that Gambrinus learned the art of brewing from Isis, the ancient Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility.
It is also possible that the original Gambrinus was Duke John I of Brabant (1254-1298), who was called Jan Primus.
Other possible Latin etymologies of the name include cambarus (cellarer) and ganeae birrinus (one who drinks in a tavern). Plzeňský Prazdroj, brewer of the Gambrinus lager, endorses the explanation that the name is a corruption of Jan Primus (John the First), referring to John I, Duke of Brabant. Alternatively, Gambrinus may be a corruption of the name Gambrivius. Although less likely, Gambrinus might also derive from camba, a word from the Celtic language family that refers to a brewer’s pan.
King Gambrinus, known as “the patron saint of beer,” has long been a universal symbol of beer and brewing. Particularly during the late nineteenth century, the image of Gambrinus was used by countless brewers to promote their products and remind consumers of the rich heritage of beer-making. Many breweries were even adorned with life-size statues of the King.
But who was Gambrinus? It is Gambrinus who brought beer to earth, and here is the legend of how this came to pass, and how he came to be King: Gambrinus was a poor apprentice in glass-making, hailing from a little town in the Flandres called Fresne sur l’Escaut. With his wonderful pink cheeks, blonde hair and blonde beard, he was the most beautiful boy in the town and had great romantic success with the town girls.
But Gambrinus had secretly fallen in love with the beautiful daughter of his master, Flandrine. In those times, glass makers were noble from birth, and taught their art only to their sons. Flandrine, as proud as she was pretty, wanted to marry a master glass maker like her father, grandfather, and great grandfather. Gambrinus, as an apprentice, would only prepare the glass for his master, who then skillfully puffed it into decorative sheets.
At last, Gambrinus gathered the courage to reveal his feelings to Flandrine. But Flandrine, offended that such a lowly apprentice sought her affection, refused so strongly that Gambrinus left Fresne, and vowed never to return to glass-working again so that he might forget about Flandrine forever.
So Gambrinus wandered from town to town playing his violin and writing poetry to sing along while he played. Gambrinus, who was very clever and a quick-learner, soon gained a reputation as one of the best violinists in the region. He was constantly called on in towns far and wide to liven up weddings, birthdays, and other parties.
When the people of Fresne heard of the fame Gambrinus had achieved, they could barely believe it. They were so proud of their Gambrinus that they invited him back to Fresne and threw a town-wide celebration in his honor. Gambrinus, flattered by the thought of a celebration in his honor, accepted the towns invitation and returned to Fresne. When he arrived in Fresne and began playing his violin, the delighted townspeople began to sing and dance and cheer.
But soon after Gambrinus had started playing, he noticed Flandrine in the crowd. Overcome by nervousness, Gambrinus began to tremble. He trembled so much and played his violin so horribly that the townspeople began to kick him and shout at him.
The townspeople all blamed Gambrinus for the commotion, since it was his poor playing that upset everyone. Gambrinus soon found himself arrested by the town officials and spent a full month in jail for the trouble he caused in the street and the noisy disturbance he had caused in the night. When Gambrinus was released from jail, he decided the only way he could ever make himself forget about Flandrine was to kill himself. He decided to hang himself, and headed out into the forest to set up a noose and platform. Gambrinus slid the noose over his neck, but just when he was about to step off the platform, he saw before him the devil himself. As is his custom, the devil proposed a deal to Gambrinus: if his power was not strong enough to make Flandrine love Gambrinus, the devil would oblige Gambrinus to forget Flandrine forever. This in exchange for Gambrinus’ soul in 30 years time. Gambrinus accepted the deal, and agreed to the devil’s terms.
As soon as Gambrinus returned to town, he noticed an intense desire to gamble on games. Indeed, the devil meant to turn Gambrinus’ love for Flandrine into a passion for betting. Gambrinus bet on everything he could, not caring whether he won or not. But win he did, and soon Gambrinus found himself the owner of a small fortune. Although gambling had nearly eclipsed any thought of Flandrine, Gambrinus suddenly had an idea. Because he was as rich as a prince, perhaps Flandrine would agree to marry him as a noble. Gambrinus approached Flandrine for the second time and expressed his feelings to her. But Flandrine’s rejection was as swift and as ruthless as the first time: Gambrinus wasn’t a noble; he was born a boy, and would remain a boy for life.
King on a Barrel Gambrinus, returned to the forest to see the devil and ask him what went wrong; after all, Gambrinus still had not forgotten Flandrine, nor had Flandrine been made to fall in love with Gambrinus. Suddenly, before Gambrinus’ eyes appeared a large field with long lines of poles on which green plants began to grow. Soon the poles were covered by these green, perfumed plants. “These,” explained the devil, “are hops.” Just as quickly, two buildings burst forth from the ground. “The first building is a hophouse,” said the devil, “and the second one is a brewery. Come, and I will teach you how to make beer, Flandres’ wine. Beer will help you to forget Flandrine.”
Gambrinus learned how to make beer (not without tasting it every now and again) and found it delicious. Gambrinus soon felt like singing and dancing and playing his violin. But he remembered that the last time he had played violin he had been arrested, and his violin destroyed. Gambrinus asked the devil how he might seek revenge against the townspeople of Fresne who kicked him, sent him to jail, and broke his violin. The devil gave Gambrinus a new instrument that no one could resist, and taught Gambrinus how to play it. The devil explained that this instrument was called the chimes. The devil gave Gambrinus some seeds and the chimes and sent Gambrinus back to Fresne.
Once he arrived home, Gambrinus planted the precious seeds given to him by Belzebuth, and practiced making beer and playing chimes. One morning, Gambrinus set up tables, chairs, barrels, and chimes on the main town square and invited all the townspeople to join him to sample his new drink called beer. The townspeople tasted the beer, which was a brown lager. At first the people complained: “It is too bitter,” “It is too strong.” The people soon began laughing at Gambrinus and his stupid drink. Then Gambrinus began to play the irresistible chimes. The people all began dancing and could not stop. All the dancing made the people thirsty, which encouraged them to drink more beer. After an hour or so, the tired and woozy townspeople pleaded with Gambrinus to stop playing chimes. But Gambrinus kept playing for hours and hours. Gambrinus was satisfied that he had gotten his revenge on those who had wronged him.
But after time the townspeople began to appreciate the beer. They begged Gambrinus to make more and called beer the best drink they ever had. Word of Gambrinus’ drink spread far and wide and crossed over all frontiers. People from other towns soon begged Gambrinus to bring beer to their towns. Everywhere Gambrinus went, he brewed beer and played the chimes. So impressed were the nobles of the region that the Dukes, Counts, and Lords offered Gambrinus the title “King of Flandres.” Gambrinus accepted the position of king, but said he preferred the title “King of the Beer.” From thence on, Gambrinus was known as “The Brewer King.”
When Flandrine realized that Gambrinus would never come to her again, she came to talk to him. Gambrinus, however, more than a little inebriated, couldn’t recognize Flandrine, and just offered her something to drink; indeed, Gambrinus had forgotten about Flandrine.
Gambrinus lived happily with his subjects for many years, until finally the devil returned. “Thirty years have passed since we made our deal,” said the devil. “Now you must follow me.” But when the devil turned around, Gambrinus began playing the chimes, and the devil began to dance. The devil begged Gambrinus to stop playing, but Gambrinus continued, and the devil could not stop dancing. Finally, the devil agreed to break his deal with Gambrinus, releasing Gambrinus from his end of the deal.
King Gambrinus lived happily for another half century playing chimes and making beer. When Gambrinus finally died, his body disappeared, and in its place appeared a barrel of beer. This is why Gambrinus has no tombstone, and why no one knows of the resting place of The Brewer King.
Another website lists some tall tales that have made Gambrinus famous:
- He received the gift of beer directly from the Egyptian fertility goddess Isis
- In medieval times he loaned his soul to the devil for 30 years to learn the art and process of brewing
- He outwitted his opponent in a challenge to lift an impossibly heavy beer cask by first drinking the beer then triumphantly lifted the empty cask
- During a three-day banquet he drank mug after mug of foamy beer and he was known forever after as the King of Beer
Below is a Symphonion No. 25 GS: “Gambrinus,” a “spectacular original coin-operated disc musical box by ‘Symphonion Musikwerke, Leipzig,’ for 11 3/4 in. discs, 84 teeth in duplex comb (complete), with a wonderful wood-carved figure of the mythical Flemish King “Gambrinus”. 43 1/2 in. high. With 10 discs.”
The German Beer Brewers Museum in Munich owns a portrait from 1526 of King Gambrinus, and it includes the following verse:
Im Leben ward ich Gambrinus gennant,
König zu Flandern und Brabant,
Ich hab aus Gersten Malz gemacht
Und Bierbrauen zuerst erdacht.
Drum können die Brauer mit Wahrheit sagen,
Daß sie einen König zum Meister haben.
Which translates roughly to:
In life I was known as Gambrinus,
King of Flanders and Brabant,
From barley I made malt
And was first at brewing beer.
Thus the brewers can truthfully say,
They have a king as master brewer.
Today is the 60th birthday of Rudi Ghequire. Rudi’s been the general manager and brewmaster of Belgium’s Brouwerij Rodenbach, in Roeselare, West-Vlaanderen, since 1982. He’s been the face of Rodenbach as long as I can remember, even since Palm bought the brewery in 1998, Rudi’s been the face of the company. I’ve run into him at a few events over the year, and he gave us a tour during the Brussels Beer Challenge a couple of years ago. Join me in wishing Rudi a very happy birthday.
Giving a tour.
A true brewing legend, who was treated like a rock star in Belgium where they care about their national beers, Pierre Celis would have been 94 today. Celis single-handedly revived the style witbier in the 1960s when he was a brewer at Hoegaarden. He later moved to Texas to start a microbrewery with his daughter Christine, which was sold to Miller in 1995. More recently, he was making three cave-aged beers under the label Grottenbier at St. Bernardus in Belgium. Unfortunately, Pierre passed away almost seven years ago in April. Pierre was a terrific person and his absence is still deeply felt. The last I heard, his daughter Christine was working on a great-sounding project that will honor her father’s memory and also produce some terrific beers, too. That project, originally was going to be called Flemish Fox Brewery, and was announced as being open, but it appears Christine instead opened a new Celis Brewery. Join me in drinking a toast to the memory of Pierre Celis.
Today is the birthday of Regina Wauters (March 1, 1795-January 24, 1874). She was married to Pedro Rodenbach and the two of them bought out other family members to become sole owners of what would become known as Brouwerij Rodenbach in Rosalre, Belgium.
Here’s her Wikipedia entry:
Born in Mechelen, Regina Wauters was the daughter of a rich local brewer. She married Pedro Rodenbach in 1818 and moved to Roeselare in West Flanders, Belgium, where his family had a distillery.
In 1821 Pedro took along with his brothers and sister a brewery. The brothers agreed to a partnership for fifteen years. At the end of this period, Pedro and Regina bought the brewery from the others and Regina ran the business while Pedro served in the military during the Belgian revolution.
Rodenbach bought the distillery from his family in 1835. He died in Brussels in 1848. His family sold the distillery to Regina Wauters, Her distillery remained for a long time the only significant distillery in Roeselare. Regina extended it immediately after she bought it. Later she asked her eldest son, Raymond, to work in the distillery. Raymond Rodenbach would continue to run the distillery until c.1895. The distillery was later sold to Honoré Talpe who transformed it into a chicory factory.
Regina invested her money not only in the distillery of the Rodenbachs but also in their brewery. In 1836 the family Rodenbach sold the brewery in Roeselare with numerous other properties. Pedro Rodenbach would buy most of it with the money of Regina. Pedro had to sign legal documents to recognize her as sole proprietor of the brewery and any other property that he had bought from his family.
Regina immediately began to expand the brewery. Although she succeeded in building one of the largest distilleries in the region, she would fail to create the largest brewery in the city. She suffered from the fierce competition with Anna Gesquiere, who also ran a brewery in Roeselare.
In 1860 her son Edward Rodenbach came to work in the brewery and it was during his directorship that the brewery expanded outside Roeselare. In 1864 Regina sold him, at the age of 69, her brewery, her house and workshops, along with eleven bars she had bought. Regina Wauters would retire to live on her private means until her death in 1874.
And this is her entry from her Dutch Wikipedia page, translated by Google Translate:
Regina Wauters was a rich brewer’s daughter from Mechelen. She married Pedro Rodenbach in 1818 and moved to Roeselare. The family had a distillery in the Spanjestraat. In 1820, Pedro and his brothers and sisters took over a brewery in the street. In 1835 the family Rodenbach decided to sell the distillery that was still managed in community to Pedro. Pedro Rodenbach was also a soldier and since the Belgian revolutionhe could hardly be seen in Roeselare. He would die in Brussels in 1848. The family then sold the distillery to Regina Wauters, who acted by her husband’s proxy. However, it was Regina who provided the necessary money. She had the necessary documents drawn up, her husband acknowledging that she was the sole owner of the distillery and all other real estate. The distillery would for a long time be the only noteworthy distillery in Roeselare. She employed a lot of people. Regina would expand it immediately after the sale. Later she involved her eldest son, Raymond, in the case. Raymond Rodenbach would continue to run the distillery until about 1895. The distillery was later sold to Honoré Talpe who made it a chicory factory.
Regina Wauters did not only invest her money in the family distillery of the Rodenbachs. In 1836 the Rodenbach family, mainly represented by Alexander Rodenbach , sold her brewery in the Spanjestraat with many other properties. Pedro Rodenbach would buy the majority of that. However, he did this again with Regina’s money. Pedro also had to acknowledge once again in deeds that the brewery and all other properties he had bought from the family were now her property.
Regina Wauters immediately started the expansion of the brewery. She might have one of the largest distilleries in the region; she would not succeed in creating the largest brewery in the city. Before that she had too much competition from Anna Gesquiere, the widow Cauwe, who had a brewery on the Polenplein. There was a strong competition between the two ladies in the 1830s and 1840s. In this way they both strove to introduce the steam engine in Roeselare as soon as possible. Regina Wauters was known for the vigorous management of both her affairs. Her policy was particularly forward-looking. But she was also hardened in the small parts of the business world. For example, she was repeatedly suspected of circumventing the city tax on alcohol. She also had a lock placed on the Mandelbeek without a license,
Since 1848 she moved her sons Emiel and Florent to the brewery, but remained so in the background that they quickly noticed it. In 1860 her second son Eduard Rodenbach entered the brewery. He used to be a lineman manufacturer, but he was certain of being insecure during a flax crisis and decided to concentrate successfully on the beer industry. In 1864 Regina Wauters, now 69, her brewery, home and workshops, together with the eleven cafes she had bought, would sell to her son. From then on, Regina Wauters would retire until her death in 1874.
In 2004 a street in a Roeselaar industrial zone was named after her, the Regina Wautersweg.
And this is the history currently on the brewery website:
The Rodenbachs moved from Andernach am Rhein to Roeselare in West Flanders. The Rodenbach line boasted numerous military men, poets, writers, brewers and entrepreneurs, as well as pragmatic revolutionaries and politicians.
Pedro Rodenbach took part in Napoleon’s Russian campaign and was instrumental in the Belgian revolution in 1830, which led to an independent Belgium. Three Rodenbachs were members of the constitutional congress when Belgium was founded. Constantijn Rodenbach was the author of the “Brabançonne”, the Belgian national anthem.
In 1836, Pedro Rodenbach, together with his entrepreneurial wife Regina Wauters, founded the brewery. However, it is Eugène Rodenbach whom RODENBACH has to thank for its unique quality and masterful character. Not only did he study the vinification of beer, but also optimised the maturation process in oak casks, or “foeders” (maturation casks). The world-renowned cask halls with their 294 oak casks, some of which are 150 years old, are protected as part of the industrial heritage of the Flemish Community.
Wednesday’s ad is for Van Roy Wieze, from the 1940s, I believe, though some sources say it’s 1950. From the late 1800s until the 1940s, poster art really came into its own, and in Europe a lot of really cool posters, many of them for breweries, were produced. This poster is for Brouwerij Van Roy (a.k.a. Brouwerij Het Anker Wieze), which was located in the East Flanders town of Weize since it was founded in 1866. The poster was created by an artist whose name appears to be
Friday’s ad is for Brasserie Vandenkerckhove, from around 1930. From the late 1800s until the 1940s, poster art really came into its own, and in
Wednesday’s ad is for Orval, from 1931, though some sources say it’s from the 1920s. From the late 1800s until the 1940s, poster art really came into its own, and in
For our 142nd and final Session, our host is Stan Hieronymus, who founded the Session, and writes the Appellation Beer Blog. I could think of no better person than the man who started it all with the first Session back in March of 2007. For Stan’s topic this month, he’s chosen One More For the Road, which he sums up as going out with a bang, um … I mean beer; going out with a beer. So what beer would you choose? If you only have one to pick — and you do — what would it be? How would (will) you decide? You only have one more beer to drink, make it count.
Here are Stan’s simple instructions, in full:
When Jay Brooks and I exchanged emails about the topic this month I flippantly suggested “Funeral Beers” [which] seemed appropriate. You can call it “Last Beers” if you’d rather not think about how your friends might toast you when you no longer are participating. Or “One more for the road”* because that has a soundtrack.
Pick a beer for the end of a life, an end of a meal, an end of a day, an end of a relationship. So happy or sad, or something between. Write about the beer. Write about the aroma, the flavor, and write about what you feel when it is gone.
For me, it’s the end of The Session itself, a bittersweet event because I’ve been helping to shepherd the project almost since its beginning and feel a deep sense of loss over its conclusion. That’s despite the fact that I also helped pull the plug, but because the writing was (or in this case no longer was) on the wall and it seemed to have run its course. But that didn’t make it any easier to decide. I think it was the right thing to do, but I’m still sad about it. So what beer did I decide to mark the last Session? I opened one of our garage refrigerators and looked for something appropriate, finally settling on something sour to match my mood. It’s one of my favorite beers, one of the early sour beers I really fell in love with, and over the years I’ve been surprised to learn that not many people love it as much as I do — finding it okay, or good, but not great. I think they’re wrong, but hey, tastes are somewhat individual. Plus, I think it just occupies a special place in my heart because it was one of the first sour beers I loved. I’m talking about Duchesse de Bourgogne, a West-Flemish red brown ale brewed by Brouwerij Verhaeghe, in Vichte, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
I don’t actually remember when or where I first tried Duchesse de Bourgogne, but I know I was immediately smitten. I remember how vinegary it was, especially in the aroma, but also the sweetness and malt character, with loads of fruit, how heavy on the tongue, the weight of it on my mouth. And ultimately, how satisfying it felt to drink it.
This is the brewery’s description of their beer:
“Duchesse de Bourgogne” is an ale of mixed fermentation. It is a sweet-fruity ale with a pleasant fresh aftertaste. This ale is brewed with roasted malts and with hops with a low bitterness. After the main fermentation and the lagering, the “Duchesse de Bourgogne” matures further for many months in oak casks. The tannins in the oak give the “Duchesse de Bourgogne” its fruity character. “Duchesse de Bourgogne” has a full, sweet and fresh taste: it is a ruby red jewel of 6.2 % alc. vol., that best is served in a chalice-shaped glass between 8 and 12°C. A perfect beer.
And this is how it’s described on Wikipedia:
Duchesse de Bourgogne is a Flanders red ale-style beer produced by Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, Belgium. After a primary and secondary fermentation, this ale is matured in oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of a younger 8-month-old beer with an 18-month-old beer. The name of the beer is meant to honour Duchess Mary of Burgundy, the only daughter of Charles the Bold. She was born in Brussels in 1457, and died in a horse riding accident. Like all Flemish red ales, Duchesse de Bourgogne has a characteristically sour, fruity flavour similar to that of lambic beers.
The beer, of course, was named for Mary of Burgundy. Several years ago, I wrote this about Mary:
Beer aside, the history of the Duchesse is fascinating. Her anglicized name was Mary of Burgundy, though she was born in Brussels on February 13, 1457, the only child of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and his wife Isabella of Bourbon. Needless to say she was quite a catch, especially after her father died in battle (at the siege of Nancy, not a particularly awful sounding name) in 1477, when she was nineteen. Louis XI of France tried to take Burgundy and the Low Countries for himself but was frustrated when Mary signed the “Great Privilege,” by which she gave Flanders, Brabant, Hainaut, and all of Holland autonomous rule (leaving for herself the remainder of the Low Countries, Artois, Luxembourg, and Franche-Comté). She then married Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who was later the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and part of the Hapsburg Austrian dynasty. This sparked a long-standing dispute over the Low Countries between France and the Hapsburg family.
One of Mary’s favorite hobbies was falconing, which was popular among royals in the day. Falconry is basically training and hunting using a falcon. While engaged in this pursuit, in 1482, Mary’s horse tripped, tossing her onto the ground where the horse then landed on top of her, breaking her back. A few days later she died. Mary was only 25. The beer label’s portrait pays homage to her love of falconry and her ultimate death because of it.
Her young son Philip became heir after her death, though Maximilian was in charge until he reached adulthood. King Louis forced Maximilian to sign the Treaty of Arras the same year, and it gave Franche Comté and Artois to France. But Philip was a virtual prisoner until 1485, and then it took Max another eight years to take back control of their lands in the Low Countries. The Treaty of Senlis, in 1493, finally established peace in the area, but Burgundy and Picardy remained French.
So during her short life, Mary had such great impact on European politics that they can be felt even now in the present. So it’s quite appropriate that she have so wonderful a beer that bears her name and her portrait. It’s a fitting legacy.
Unfortunately, I don’t drink it all the time, just once in a while. Maybe I don’t want to ruin the experience by drinking it every day, or even once a week. As a once in a while beer, it stays special, every time. I usually try to keep a bottle in the ‘frig at all times, so when I want one, it’s already there, waiting for me. But it has been almost a year, maybe longer, since I’d cracked open a bottle of Duchesse de Bourgogne. I was looking forward to it, but also I always wonder how it will taste this time, will it taste the same? As good as I remember it? But it’s always an adventure.
So how did this bottle of Duchesse de Bourgogne fare? After a long week, driving half a high school basketball team back and forth to another town, an hour away, four days in a row, then scoring each game, plus trying to do all of my other work took its toll. Finally, Sunday came, a day of rest … eventually. The Packers actually won for a change, which certainly improved my mood. By nightfall, it was quiet enough to open a bottle and spend some time with it. So I opened the cage, popped the cork, and poured a glass of Duchesse de Bourgogne. I let Sarah nose it, and she predictably hated it. She loves most beer, but has never warmed to sour beers in any way, although she loves Kombucha. I hate sour foods, but love it in beer. People certainly don’t make sense. I’m living proof of that.
But I loved the nose. A little less vinegar than I remembered from before, but still there, and still loads of fruit; plums, cherries, maybe burgundy. But it’s the flavors I really respond to, it’s just thick and chewy; lays on my tongue like a weight, until swallowed. I like to let it sit there, roll it around, keep the flavors assaulting my taste buds until they start to dissipate, like chewing gum you’ve been chewing for too long. Then flush it down my throat, feel the sourness burn all the way down, as it evaporates on my tongue, preparing the way for another sip. I love this beer. I remember why as that second sip repeats the first, as complex flavors abound, with vinous notes, wood, dark fruit, figs, tart cherries, a smidge of vanilla, port wine, both sweet and sour dancing together. This is a beer that ideally you should take as long as possible to finish, it should not be hurried. It changes as it warms, which adds yet another element to the experience, so it’s not quite the same beer it was in the first few sips as it is when you drain the last remnants of the bottle. And when it’s empty, I’m a little sad, which is how I feel about the Session ending, too. So for this Session, it’s perfect. A perfect beer, a perfect end.
So that’s it. It’s been great fun, a great run. 142 Sessions over 11+ years. Thanks to everybody who hosted and everybody who participated, and especially Stan. Thanks, Stan.
So this post will be chiefly for the literary, and especially poetry lovers, among you, a small subset of beer lovers who also enjoy art. Visual poetry is “a development of concrete poetry but with the characteristics of intermedia in which non-representational language and visual elements predominate. In other words, it was experimental or avant-garde poetry in which the arrangement of the text also was a part of the poem’s meaning, which was communicated both visually and through the text itself.
Two Mexican poets in the 1920s, José D. Frias and José María González de Mendoza were both expatriates living in France and became friends, later exchanging humorous letters between themselves and their literary friends. Today is Mendoza’s birthday, which is what reminded me of this.
In 1923, the pair wrote a letter from Paris to fellow poet Francisco Orozco Muñoz that included four visual poems. They were based on the work of French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who a few years before wrote a book of visual poetry entitled Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War 1913-1916. They also were influenced by Japanese Haiku, which had become popular at the time in their literary circles, as opposed to Apollinaire’s more cubist or l’esprit nouveau poetry.
Three of the visual poems were written by Frias and translated visually by Mendoza. But the fourth poem was done entirely by Mendoza, and it’s the one below. All four poems contain witty references to the fact that Muñoz was living in Brussels.
The text is in the shape of a mug of beer, sitting on a table, and reads, according to several books on visual poetry, “Let’s Have a Beer” followed by “The Sun Has Already Set in Flanders.”