Day 5 You say Banche, I say Binche.
We leave SHAPE at the usual early hour and head to Binche. It's an old town (aren't they all?) still mostly surrounded by the old protective walls. After 'meandering' around for a while, we stumble on the brewery hoping for a tour. At first it looks badÉ a couple of people cleaning the sidewalk and the door to the tasting room closed. But after coming all this way we were not to be denied. I had met the brewer a few years earlier in New York and thought I would recognize him. I asked one of the 'sweepers' and they directed us into the brewery were we met who turned out to be the wife of the brewer.
After collecting André the brewer, we adjoined to the tasting room and had a beer. An interesting place, filled with old equipment. Apparently the building had been some type of grain facility as there hoppers coming down from the ceiling. I learned from André's wife Françoise that they had just sold the brewery to, two employees and one outside investor. When we parted, we were presented with two 75cl bottles and glass as well as four 25cl Noel beers.
On the road between Binche and Namur, we chanced upon the Abbeye de Floreffe . Although the beer is no longer brewed on site, there is a cafe serving the beer and the customary 'ham' products. The abbeye is still operational and seemed to be housing a school. The old buildings and beer cafe are located on the road below.
We passed through Namur and Liege, no doubt missing out on some fine beers, as we were anxious to get to Malmédy before dark. As it turns out we were looking for Baugnez, the site of a massacre by the German SS troops. They had captured around 100 American soldiers and executed them in violation of the Geneva Convention. The leader was later tried for war crimes, and after his release mysteriously died in a house fire. The memorial contains a chapel and a wall where the names of the dead are listed on individual stones.
A short ride away we arrived at the Hotel du Commerce in Houffalize that is near to Achouffe brewery. After dinner, I waited for Chris, one of the brewery owners, while my dad hit the sack. Chris decided to take me to his favorite Chouffe bar, in Bastone, where I drank several Mc and La Chouffes on draft. They offer a 2.5-liter table draft, which would be great for a group or a thirsty Babbler.
After another quick beer in Houffalzie with Chris, we returned to my hotel at 2am to discover that none of the keys I had would open the outside door. It seems that someone had latched the deadbolt and there was no getting in. After some conversation with a young guy in the 'rooming house' where the hotel workers in training reside, I was offered a room not in use at the time, to spend the night. After another hour of conversation regarding the political structure of the US, it was off to bed.
Back to Belgium 2001