Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday 14 July (Bastille Day)

~ The other day, I asked myself why buy beer, even quite nice, artisanale Belgian, French or  Breton beer, from a big supermarket when there's a micro-brewery, the Brasserie de Launay, just down the road?  So I stop by the roadfront house by the old Gare de Moncontour, peer through the glass door into the front room which has been turned into a plain and makeshift little bar, then find the young chap with the long dark pony-tail, who I've seen coming and going around there, in the garage space next door, with some large vats and tubes, and a couple of big buckets of fragrant brown mush which I take to be something to do with hops and malt.  He is graceful and pleasant to talk to, and I follow him over the road to a storeroom.

You have an accent, he remarks, (which can be a polite way of saying your French is rubbish...) and suggests that  English people often like the rousse, the darker beer more like an English bitter, it's even made with English hops, or maybe malt - giving me a name I forget now but which I'm sure I've heard Rouchswalwe, our resident brewing expert, mention - and persuades me quite easily to take a bottle of this as well as some of the blonde which I tend to prefer in summer.  They are unpretentiously bottled and labelled, and are both very good.  Tom has not drunk beer for a long time, but is rather taken with the idea, and we share the bottle of rousse this evening.  It has a good head and flavour, and does taste a bit like a nice British bitter.  I think I'll go there again.

~  Having swallows as next door neighbours - they're nesting in the garage again - you begin to understand something of their language.  The calls this afternoon are quite different from their usual exuberance, or the histrionics provoked by cat, magpie or even sparrowhawk.  They are quieter and more earnest, as if they prefer not to waste too much energy.  I step outside and see a couple of them pursuing a hobby, at one point seeming to make contact with it.  This is quite brave as the small falcon is very agile, and could turn and catch one of them.  It wheels round and they chase it quite low overy the roof, so I can see its streaked breast and Egyptian-looking face.  I never see one of these birds of prey without an intense feeling of wonder and privilege, though I would be sad if it ever caught one of our swallows.


Hoverfly shenanigens.  Not something you see every day.  Perhaps not something you'd want to, but I do like hoverflies, so I don't mind them making more.


The Crow said...

Whenever I see insects attached rear to rear like your hoverflies are, I can't help but wonder what would happen to them if they were startled into flight while conjoined like that. Do they, I wonder, have some biological release mechanism which would allow them to fly off in opposite directions without injuring tender parts? Gosh, I hope so!

Your beers sound wonderful. I like dark, foamy ones, soft to the palate but rich and complex.

Zhoen said...

I have a soft spot for very good beer.

The flies seem discreet enough, turned away as though to say, "Us? We're not doing anything..."

Dave said...

You have a microbrewery right down the road? I'm jealous!

jmartin said...

This post embroiders a Medieval Summer: the beer brewed and quaffed, the swift and the Hobby, and the flies - whose love and lives instructionally span but a brief season, despite hovering.

Lucy said...


Crow - funnily enough, that's exactly what did happen! I went round to see if I could get a shot from the other side, tried to rest the camera lense lightly on the leaf, startled them and hup! Off they flew, still joined together. I've quite often seen dragon- and damselflies flying about attached in the same way, I may even have a picture of this. Weird, me?

Dave and Z - I shall put in a link to the brewery, they've now got quite a nice website. We aren't great beer drinkers, generally, preferring wine but may try to cultivate the habit as there's such a good resource so close. There's a cider farm a bit further down the road too.

JM - how lovely you make life sound!

Rouchswalwe said...

Ah yes, summertime ... and the living is easy. I'm really not an expert, merely a dabbler. But I can tell you that brews from microbreweries are the way to go, sweet Lucy. Fresh beer always tastes better than the stuff that has been sitting around on grocery shelves. And one is able to savour the aromas and the brewery atmosphere, too. Your friendly brewer sounds like a fabulous resource to help you and Tom explore the many faces of beer. I wonder if he would let you take some photos of the brewing process one day. I believe you would love watching the artistry, and I'd be interested in your take on it.

Roderick Robinson said...

Mrs BB and I are just back from a night chez Plutarch. Our concerns seem interwoven. Beer played an important role (a pint of Harvey at the much-blogged-about Grove Tavern followed by a trip to Groombridge where we sat outside a typical rural Kentish pub - top half of the frontage dressed with aged and lichenous roof tiles - and drank another pint, the brewer of which I have shamefully forgotten). During these excursions, and including time spent in P's front garden drinking Sancerre rosé, P regularly took time off to hymn swallows, swifts and house martins. Really, we must all inject a little more variety into our lives.