Friday night, I couldn't help thinking of W.H. Auden's poem "Musee des Beaux Arts." In that great little poem, the author stares at "Fall of Icarus" (painted by Peter Breughel, that towering Belgian genius) and wistfully realizes that while incredibly momentous, earth-shattering occurrences are happening to some people, most people are just having a perfectly fine day. The reason I thought of this is because Friday, I tore myself away from watching the world-changing events in the Middle East to take a trip out to Rockmill Brewery.
Rockmill's the rural Lancaster area newbie who's deservedly much buzzed about for their highly impressive Belgian-style ales. To produce these, the minuscule brewery uses its pure, spring-fed well water, which has a comparable minerality to that of Wallonia (the French region of Belgium where Saison is famously made). It was a truly great day in every way.
This was due to a barrel of reasons, including: the amazing graciousness of the family who owns, runs and does all of the work of the business (brewmaster Matthew Barbee and his parents--yup, that's it!); roaming around the beautiful estate (which used to be a horse farm) and house/modern art gallery (a former horse barn but now a real stunner with eccentric spaces and jaw-dropping views) and, of course the beers themselves, which Barbee paired with terrific cheeses and other assorted noshes.
We were also treated to a delicious prototype of a still-in-the-works flavor of Jeni's ice cream made with one of Rockmill's beers, and Barbee let us join him in the first-time tasting of a brand-new style of beer. Before leaving, he handed us a very special bottle of one of his ales that'd spent a month in a Middle West Spirits whiskey barrel. What an honor!
Unfortunately, I think Flora sneaked a few sips of Rockmill's delicious but high-test ales, too. Here she is acting embarrassingly flirty with Barbee's dog Scooby.
During the 40-minute ride back to town, feeling great and pleasantly buzzed as the sun began setting on a beautiful day in bucolic Ohio, I turned on NPR and heard about the strife and deaths in the broiling and blood-stained streets of the Middle East.