The beers we couldn’t try, but at least we shared the stout

My personal obsession with craft beer started about 6 years ago when I was deep into my 20’s. I didn’t live in my hometown anymore so I didn’t see my family very often. But I knew my father liked beer. He was a drinker like most are; a bottle of Grolsch during the week, maybe a Duvel or Westmalle in the weekends and occasionally something else. Open to new flavors, but not the very experimental kind. As with most children when you start liking something some of the first people you want to share your new found obsession with is your family. Distance prohibited us from doing that full-fledged but I have some great beer memories.

When my father turned 50 I gave him a case of different beers and the book “Beer for Dummies”. This was in 2006 so my knowledge of beer wasn’t as it is now. I tried to fill the case with different styles: a stout, a barleywine, some trappist ales etc. If I had known more beers I might have added that too, but remember  that in 2006 the number of Dutch beers for example was still so much lower than it is now.

Two years ago I took him to the beerfestival in Groningen in the Martinikerk. We shared some beers and we talked. We had some local beers  and a De Molen. I once gave him a Hel & Verdoemenis and he later told me he enjoyed it very much so this was a natural choice. I was very happy that he liked my favorite beer too.

And then last year in February we got the news that he was sick. A tumor was found in his brain and removed, but was never the same. He still drank some alcohol though throughout the times he had both chemo- and radiation therapy. This all ended when he had to take more medication. He did try and find a substitute and he tried different low- or non-alcohol beers. Wieckse Witte turned out to be his favorite. A few times I brought some too. He tried some and found the Erdinger to be the best.

Occasionally he broke the doctor’s orders and tried some beer or wine. The most special beer I shared with him was the Duits & Lauret Stout that my wife and I poured on our wedding day instead of champagne. He didn’t have much because he wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol anymore because of the medication he was taking. He did tell me he enjoyed it a lot and I wish he could have had more.

Earlier this year he and his wife took a little holiday to Limburg. We couldn’t come  but I suggested that they visit a place that was dear to both me and my wife. When we were traveling there we took a very long walk through the hills of Southern Limburg to end up at ‘t Hijgend Hert, the most beautifully located specialty beer café in the country overlooking a part of the hilly countryside. And yes, all of sudden around dinner time I received pictures of him enjoying trout on the terrace. Even though he didn’t have any beer the simple fact that was there was special to us. It was a place I would have loved to take him myself, but this was close.

There are so many other beers I would have loved to try with him and festivals and bars to visit. Would he enjoy the Emelisse White Labels I enjoyed so much, did he ever try a good IPA? Was a Rooie Dop Double Oatmeal Stout more to this liking? Maybe he would have wanted to come to Borefts one year or at least visit In De Wildeman while was visiting us in Amsterdam.

But it wasn’t to be. On October 24 this year the cancer won and he died at the age of only 57. Some non-alcoholic beers still left in the fridge. I will think of the things we didn’t do, but I will also remember him liking the Duits & Lauret Stout on my wedding. It’s a good beer memory don’t you think?

Post script.

At my father’s funeral I spoke for a little while with a former neighbor. He was also at my father’s 50th birthday and on that night we spoke for quite some time about beer. He told me that he would ask my father to come over and have some special beers. His birthday was in October and he drank bockbeers a lot on and around this day. One he remembers is the Kruisheren Constantinus, a beer from our home province of Groningen. They also drank more beers from Kruisheren, mostly because they were local. He wanted to let me father try some beers from the province, though he quickly found out he knew them already. That however did not stop him from trying. This and other beers from Grunn interested them, like most people love trying local things.

Thanks HJ for sharing this with me, it is something I was unaware of but makes me proud to read!

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