A few nights ago, Sarah and I went to Giant, which is the ridiculous name for a chain of groceries stores in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Our mission: buy beer. That was it, well, except for picking up a baguette, some summer sausage and chunk of Kerrygold cheese for someone — me – who apparently hadn’t consumed enough food during the day. We could have stopped at any of the numerous bars along the H Street corridor, but most had already closed up shop early for some peculiar reason — perhaps it being 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday. We just wanted to chill out with brewskis and talk about our weekends; Sarah had been traveling the eastern seaboard for five days, and I had locked myself indoors to watch two seasons of Games of Thrones with the occasional interlude of social activity.
Sarah picked out a six-pack variety of Leinenkugel’s because she has impeccable taste. But when we went to the check-out line with beer in hand, the young lady at the counter said she could not process a transaction involving alcohol past midnight.
“Say what?” I though.
Unfortunately, in the District of Columbia, one cannot purchase any sort of alcohol past midnight, according to some rules in a giant book I’m sure they keep locked up in a vault as secure as Xaro Xhoan Daxos’s in the city of Qarth (actually it’s all online, yay for transparent government).
No beer = no fun = sadness.
I come from the Midwest, where cold winter and lack of nightlife in small towns necessitate the killing of time with libations. I hail specifically from Northern Illinois, too, close to the big and micro breweries of Chicago and Wisconsin. The latter should be renamed the State of Beer. In fact, I’m pretty sure beer was invented there … or maybe not.
I decided to check out rules on alcohol sales in Wisconsin, a state I assumed would codify much more liberal beer sales laws than the rule-heavy District of Columbia. D.C. But when I found the liquor/beer/wine sales law, I was shocked.
It’s the same time — midnight — for beer sales but worse for those seeking to knock back a few glasses of Merlot or shots of tequila; at 9 p.m. liquor and wine sales end — or at least they’re supposed to stop.
But even with these limitations, Wisconsinites know how to drink better than most people in the U.S. Why?
BECAUSE THERE’S A LUXEMBOURG DIASPORA IN THE BADGER STATE.
Now, let’s talk Luxembourgish beer.
Beer in the Grand Duchy
Belgium, Wisconsin is approximately 2 hours and 19 minutes away from my old home in Sleepy Hollow, Illinois. Adjusted for Chicagoland traffic, that’s about a month journey, give or take.
Last summer, when I was out of college and driving my parents mad as an unemployed graduate, I picked up this dual-citizenship project as a means to occupy my time in between writing cover letters and applying for jobs. During the research part of the project, I was tempted to drive to Belgium, Wisconsin, whereat the Luxembourg American Cultural Society has a museum and cultural center full of historical, archival and genealogical goodies. The center, located in a town replete with Luxembourg Americans, often hosts events that promote Luxembourg culture.
As reported in Wort.lu, this past weekend in Belgium, the Luxembourg beer company Bofferding is “making its US debut … at the Luxembourg Heritage Weekend in Wisconsin, an annual event celebrating the Grand Duchy.”
Look at all that beer. I wish I were closer to Belgium, Wisconsin right now to help finish any leftover kegs from the festivities (unless, of course, the Luxembourg-American Wisconsinites are still raging hard).
Sadly, I’ve never imbibed a brew from the Grand Duchy. But through research, I can establish a few of the famous brands and breweries, which in this context can be translated into the French brasserie, that are staples of the beer economy in Luxembourg:
- My family attended the Schobermesse, a festival hosted by Section Three of the Luxembourg Brotherhood of America, and my dad brought back some sadly empty bottles of Simon Pils. I keep a couple bottles around as decorations.
5. Battin (made by Brasserie Nationale)
From what I’ve read, Luxembourgers seem to enjoy lagers and pilners, but obviously a few articles online can’t speak to the sophisticated taste preferences of those residing in the Grand Duchy.
According to the World Health Organization, Luxembourgers per capita consume 13.0 litres of alcohol annually, putting it at number five worldwide for yearly alcohol consumption. However, of those 13.0 litres, only 14 percent consists of beer consumption, while 16 and 70 percent account for spirits and wine respectively. One drink, quetsch, a dry white Alsatian brandy distilled from fermented plum juice, I hope to try and write about soon. One of the perks of living in D.C. is that liquor stores cater to the international tastes of city dwellers who work at embassies, so maybe I’ll find a Luxembourgish or French brand of quetsch.
Also, those applying to dual-citizenship in the Grand Duchy who are too young to legally drink in the U.S.: In Luxembourg, you don’t have to wait until you’re 21. The legal age for drinking is 16. Just another incentive to move to Luxembourg, right?!
Have a favorite beer from the Grand Duchy? Let me know, or do the kinder thing and SEND ME A KEG.
Luxembourg phrase of the day
This phrase is actually useful, unlike things concerning hovercrafts full of eels. No matter where you live and what leaders you have in public office, you should be able to use this sentence.
Lëtzebuergesch: Eis Regierung ass futtigefuer!
English: Our government has broken!