Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: Politics/Economics of the EU

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The Belgian Countryside: Home of the Best Beer in the World

For our first day in Brussels, Belgium as a part of our politics and economics of the European Union immersion trip, Drs. Hollander and Mikek thought it would be good to allow students some down time. Some students stayed at the hotel and slept (the nine hour hop across the pond weighed heavy on many), others took a quick train ride out to Bruges – a medieval city recently the subject of the famous Martin McDonagh film In Bruges (Wabash's Theater department recently put on a production of McDonagh's most famous play, The Pillowman) They spent nearly six hours wandering around the ancient city and saw the incredible architecture and river systems that are emblematic of the city.

A few of us, however, were up for more of an adventure. Belgium as a country is known for its diverse beers for all sorts of palettes. While one has access to many different types of beers, there is one beer that looms over all of the rest. The Trappist Monks of Western Belgium produce a famous series of beers that have been consistently ranked as the best in the world by people much more knowledgeable about beer than us. They brew only enough to sustain their monastery; consequently, guests are limited to four beer bottles to take with them. Aaron Abell ‘09, Chris Hawes ‘09 and Drs. Hollander and Mikek and me set out to taste this wonderful beer.

It took us two hours one way; there were very few signs marking the monastery, buried in a small town with very few signs pointing consumers to the best beer in the world; nevertheless, it was totally worth it. We were able to sample each of the three different types of beers, and each had a different opinion about which beer was the best. We only ordered a few and shared them around, discussing the flavor of each and the difference in texture, taste and color. It was an excellent example of gentlemanly consumption of alcohol and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Monday we will begin examining the politics and economics of the European Union as we will visit the United States Mission to the European Union; while not the original reason why we came to Belgium, learning about the Trappist monks and why this beer is considered perhaps the best in the world was an invaluable added bonus.