A beautiful city is much more than a collection of monuments lining up some exquisite historical streets. Because a beautiful city is not just a museum. A beautiful city is a place where people live and decorate its streets in lively colors, either to express their joy or to bring some color in otherwise gray lives. Madrid is one of these beautiful cities and its living colors are everywhere. Traditional bookshops or hip restaurants, ordinary walls or temporary fences or closed shutters, people leave everywhere their signatures and make every corner a meeting place for ideas, for sentiments, for hearts.
Maybe for a second you’d think you had enough of the colors of its crowded streets. You could try then to wash them down with a dark, dark imperial stout called Black Block, a thick munch of dried fruits, sweet with an alcohol pang from the Barcelonese brewery La Pirata. But as dark the brew might be, its label reminds you that colors simply belong to allday in a beautiful Spanish city.
The lights of old town Amsterdam are painting the dark waterways with the brush of Van Gogh. It’s not even Christmas yet there’s color at every corner and waves are mixing together every shadow on the mysterious streets with every move of the quiet motorboats. You don’t need more than that to start dreaming, to become the mythical sleepwalker in a world of dancing brushstrokes.
Feet aching, there’s no lack of warm places to allow yourself a treat, to enjoy a generous portion of kibbeling - fish&chips Dutch style - and sip a tasty Brown Ale from Ouderkerks Goud. Caramel roasted malts with a passing hint of candied nuts sweetness, bitter with discrete hops, it prepares the palate for a renewed dip in the outside dreamworld…
In Kamikatsu, Japan’s first ‘zero-waste’ town, architects Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP have constructed a unique pub and micro-brewery. Built using recycled materials and powered by renewable energy, the pub, which also functions as a thriving community hub, is right at home in a town that has already attained an 80% recycling rate.
At eight metres high, the distinctive facade made from reclaimed windows has become a local landmark, flying the flag for the town’s zero waste vision. Inside, interiors constructed entirely from reclaimed materials provide a cosy hangout to kick back and enjoy your sustainably-brewed beer.
The real world drops out of sight behind you, slowly consumed by bright orange flames, its place taken by the dark blue shades of memories. What is this trip going to bring, except a dangerous dive in old scenes with estranged people? Do you feel ready to enter their realm of faded colors punctuated by few bright moments, where you can’t even be sure what once was truth and what turned conveniently believable? Ready or not, there’s no turning back anymore - the implacable pursuit of trailers with their headlights set on your backhead is forcing you to reach that place, right before full night covers everything with silence.
An approving glance recognizes the darkness in the chilled glass. The bitterness of the deep roasted malts doesn’t disappoint either, so the palate approves as well. Did I happen to find a good match for this evening of crisp unraveling memories? One beer later… woow! Well, that’s its title, a Romanian stout brewed by Calul Bun, watching your every move with a Dali style moustache.
The buildings have waged war against time. Young and naive, not even hundred years old, how could they think they could win where pyramids and colosseums are barely holding? Between their wildly cracked walls yet still far from entirely crumbling, from up close a smell of settling dust and uhm wait, no, no gas leaks, the estimated level of danger in Bistrita is… actually negligible. Even though it definitely doesn’t feel like a war zone, the time is still visibly winning it, slowly and unforgiving. Just like us passersbys, the people quartered in those eventual ruins seem to have accepted their fates instinctively and decided to focus on more immediate needs than patching a lost cause.
So… can beer be of some solace among those post-apocalyptic Romanian close-ups? The (also Romanian) brewers from Hophead definitely think yes, offering a charm to the taste buds with this crisp resin and refreshing caramel, lighter than expected IPA Pure C.