Apart from a loving father, hard working, who loves his wife dearly, he was always close with his children. Strict, but fair (even when at times we would have disagreed with that, of course, hard headed teenagers that we were). One of the greatest things he gave us, was his example of how to live life. His joie-de-vivre and hospitality are legendary, literally around the world (for some reason, we always had guests in our house, from all 5 continents). So often we would take these guests around and show off our beloved Flanders. A typical stop would include touring Brugge (Bruges), a medieval town that is often referred to as the 'Venice of the North', and a true gem. We loved going there, and after a few times we had our tour down, to show the most beautiful and interesting places. A standard stop was always the Brewery "De Halve Maan", famous for their Straffe Hendrik and Brugse Zot. It is an old brewery, right near the idyllic Beguinage. They have an operating brewery in a small part of the original building (the green beer is cellared elsewhere), and the actual installation of the old brewery is open for tours, put together in a very nice overview of the brewing process and history. The entry ticket you have to buy for the tour also gives you a free beer at the end of the tour. Very often we would start the afternoon in the bar area of this brewery, talking about our country and the countries of our guests, over a shared beer.
|Bonifacius Bridge, Bruges|
|Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp|
Back at home, he would spare no expense preparing the best food he could find, together with of course the best of beers.
So apart from honoring the man who taught me how to savor beer, there is another point. These stories about my dad (believe me, I did not even scratch the surface) show something important: beer is meant to be enjoyed and shared. As we grew up, we often were allowed to sip from the beers of the grown-ups, without any taboo. We learned that drinking means savoring quality, not pounding down quantity. The rich encounter over beers with so many different people who each brought their own culture to the table, was fabulous.
That is what beer is about. That is what we want to bring here. An example of how to enjoy life, and how to savor beers, in moderation, but often and in good company. It is our wish that Saint William Brewery, together with the other craft breweries here in New Jersey, can help create such a culture, and become part of that meeting place where people can come together, to share and enjoy each other's company and culture, over a glass of cold brew.
So with that, cheers to you, papa, and thanks for the lessons learned. May this coming year be the best one yet for you, and the worst of those still to come!