Monday, March 5, 2012

#1,200 - Atomic Similarities

The first post-World War II World Expo was held in Belgium in 1958.  Like other World Expos, a large part of this particular event involved various visions of the future, especially transportation and architecture. 

Highlighting the fact that this was the first Expo of the Atomic Age, designers got to work on a giant atom. Sure that sounds oxymoronish (like "smart Republican", "congressional ethics"  or "religious education"), but it turned out kinda cool....

300 feet high, it represents an iron crystal magnified 360 billion times.  The nine spheres are large enough to accommodate exhibits, gift shops, a restaurant, and a kids dormitory, believe it or not.  The stainless steel covering now found on it replaces the original aluminum sheets.  

Sadly, one can no longer visit all nine spheres. It appears that engineers went back and looked at the design and had concerns about the three top spheres.  Erring on the side of caution, they shut those down as they have no vertical supports. Wind tunnel tests have shown that it could fall over if winds exceed 140mph (a speed that HAS been recorded in the region before.)

So what you have is a design that is pretty damned neat, but some flaws (like the lack of supports!) have caused the final product to be short of perfection.  

My 1,200th beer, the Atomium Premiere Grand Cru, parallels that idea - nice, but not perfect.  Brewed by the Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. in Brussels, they adopted the Atomium as their flagship beer.  Like the atomic model, it needs a bit of tweaking.

I don't have the special Atomium glass in my collection, so I had to just use my tried and true snifter.   A spectacular gold beer, with a foamy head easily 1 1/2" thick,  looks sooo cool.  The aroma was a wide array of scents ranging from citrus and apples to cloves and coriander.  Just smelling this stuff was enough to say "Wow!".  

Sadly, like the original Atomium design, things got a bit awkward after completion.  I think the secondary fermentation  in the bottle (the addition of yeasts and sugars to the bottle before it is sealed) contributed to a higher carbonation.  On the tongue, taste buds winced a bit. That sting we all know started to interfere with my ability to taste what was going on.  The body had a slight syrupy feel contributing to a icky film on my cheeks after the finish.  The 8% ABV was not at all noticeable. 

All my whining aside, this is still an excellent beer!  I just can't give it a five but a three does not do it justice, either.    A four it is!

(It is worth noting, by the way, that the brewers stated on their website:
 "Atomium Premier Grand Cru is one of the only beers in the world brewed with 6 grains!"
Hmmmm, 6 grains in a beer is rare, eh?  Well, if that is the case, Doug Beedy at the Fort Street Brewery is even more wild than I thought.  I just recently had a beer of his - the 7x7.  Seven grains with seven hops.  Pretty damned good.  It was in honor of the seventh birthday of the FSB.  He did "6x6" on the sixth anniversary and  the "5x5" on the fifth.  There's obviously a pattern here.....)

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