There are nights when you drink too much. There are night you drink things you're not supposed to.
Last night was an night I drank things I had never drank before, and most likely never will again, but not for reasons of sickness.
Our generous host first offered me some beer from his personal house keg. He was trying to get rid of his Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Ale and I happily provided some assistance. At 9.2% alcohol, I wanted half a glass.
As the party continued later, our host brought out a bottle of liquor that he received from his brother-in-law, who was in the military in Korea I believe. This was a bottle of Plum Liquor, that was from North Korea. Yes, it was a totalitarian regime beverage. I'd never seen anything that came from North Korea, let alone had a chance to drink one of its products.
I have no idea what these words say. There was no English on the bottle at all, but no images of the Dear Leader either. People were afraid of this beverage. Can you blame them? Our host had some small, plastic shot glasses and was filling them about a quarter capacity. Of course I had to give this Kim Il Wine a try.
My friend suggested we start filming a live, remote, What I'm Drinking, which might have been an interesting idea. But it was not to be.
So. How was the North Korean Plum Liquor? To be honest, it exceeded expectations. It was not poison, yet there seemed to be some paint thinner notes with the turpentine. There was a good dose of plum in the mix, which was quite pleasant. The drink did not have much balance to it though. Have no idea on the alcohol percentage.
A bit later I walked into the kitchen. There was a bottle on the island.
"Is that a special Belgian?" I asked our host.
I looked closer. Holy crap, it was a bottle of Westvleteren.
In all of my years of drinking, I have never seen a bottle of this beer. Westvleteren is a Belgian Trappist Ale and is only sold, after following the rules, at the brewery. The monks do not like it when their beers are sold on the grey market after their purchase and try to control their output. Obviously, this does happen.
My host and I were talking about Belgian beer over Thanksgiving dinner, and Westvleteren was brought up. From what I understand the monks needed a quick cash infusion to repair the Abbey and they released special six packs in the U.S. to raise money. I never got to buy into this, let alone being able to afford it.
It was an honor and a treat to be able to try this beer. It is a massive 10.2% on the alcohol scale. Packed with malt, apple and candy sugar flavors. Westvleteren truly deserves its place on the wall of great beers of the world.
Is it worth the price though? Does it taste better because it is so hard to find? If I lived in Belgium, I'd make road trips. Try my luck with the phone. But going through ebay, or other means? Not when there are so many great beers available in my city.