le kwak sportif

le kwak
Kwak! A beer I very much enjoyed when I lived in Belgium all those years ago (can I go back there again please, just for a few days, please? I miss Belgium, and have several good sketching friends there). It’s the beer in the funny glass. I still have all the Belgian beer glasses I was given by my amis Belges back in the year 2000, though I actually got this one in England a couple of years later. The big bottle of Kwak was given to me at Christmas, but took me a while to open – that’s a lot of Kwak for one sitting. Kwak will always be associated with a funny story about my friend Tel who visited me in Charleroi one weekend, which I recounted in this blog post from 2008, “The night Tel drank the Kwak“.  That was funny. We were at my local, La Cuve a Biere, where we ordered a couple of Kwaks, but he drank his too quickly, and then the room started spinning, and everything went foggy (for him, not me, I was alright) and then he spent the best part of an hour in the small toilet of the pub, and it was not pretty. The “Kwak Incident” we called it. I miss Tel, he lives in Japan now. I miss a lot of things, places, people. Memories. That’s life I suppose. I miss recent things such as watching the Thor Ragnarok trailer a few minutes ago, that was so much fun, I miss it already. Difference is I can watch it again in a minute. And lets face it, I’m gonna. That’s gonna be a film I will need to watch with a much bigger glass of beer, Thor style. “Ragnakwak!” One glass I was given in Belgium was one such massive glass, with the words “Tres Grand Soif” on it, and a bell on it for when you need a refill. Santé!

jumping the shark

great white beer
Here is a beer for the hot weather (and, while today has finally cooled off a little, we here in Davis have had a very long hot summer). Great White is brewed by Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka (I always read that as ‘Lost Coats’, with images of standing around by those coat places in nightclubs), and is very refreshing and tasty on a hot evening. In the pub, the beer pump is shaped like a shark. This is sketched in my ‘beer’ book, a brown paper sketchbook I’ve had for a while.

two moons

pale moon
Last Saturday was national beer day, apparently, so I partook by having (and drawing) a couple from the Blue Moon Brewing Co. They make a nice wheat beer, but also make nice seasonal beers, my favourite of which is the Winter Abbey Ale, below, which is now off the shelves. Above is their Belgian style pale ale, Pale Moon, which was also very nice. I drank them and drew them (except for the bottle below which I drew later) while watching a movie on cable, “I Am Number Four”, which I think may have required more than two beers to fully appreciate the subtleties of.
blue moon

nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit

pliny the elder

This was a nice beer, Pliny the Elder, from the Russian River Brewing Co in Santa Rosa CA. A gift from my mother-in-law (cheers Lois!), it’s quite strong at 8%, and something of a cult favourite among beer afficionados (try saying or typing that after a few). Written all around the label are recommendations that you actually drink the beer, not save it. It’s a living thing, beer, you have to treat it right or the taste will go funny. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that (and I had a beer at Jupiter in Berkeley last month that really was very much so off). This label makes sure to remind you. “Pliny the Elder is a Historical figure, don’t make the beer inside this bottle one!” “Age your cheese, not your Pliny!” “Respect your Elder: keep cold, drink fresh, do not age!” “Do not save for a rainy day!” Good advice. Well it hasn’t been rainy here in quite a while, nor will it according to KCRA3 Chief Meterologist Mark Finan, so chin chin, bottoms up!

Drawn in the ‘beer bottle and glass’ brown sketchbook. “In Vino Veritas”; that was from Pliny the Elder, did you know.

it was the fest of times…

weihenstephaner festbier

I haven’t been drawing much this week, but this is one from a couple of weeks back that I forgot to scan. My wife got me some Weihenstephaner beer, ‘Festbier’ (it is October after all), and to go with it she also got me one of the really big litre-sized beer glasses. I had to draw it! (My brown sketchbook as you may know is for beer and beer glasses now). Weihenstephaner is the oldest brewery in the world, and we visited it just outside Munich when we were in Bavaria in 2005. I really like their beer a lot. One of the reasons I went there is because at the time I was studying Germanic Philology, and had just written a paper about the competing influences of Old English and Old Gothic on the vocabulary of Old High German, specifically in the field of religion (they being the chief importers of Christianity in Germania), and one of the focuses was on the two words for ‘holy’, ‘heilig’ being the Anglo-Saxon inspired word (from ‘hálig‘), and ‘weihe’ being the Gothic preference (cf ‘weihs’). Ultimately the preferred English form gained most use, though some of the old Gothic-inspired words can still be seen in place names, such as ‘Pfaff’ and ‘Weihe’, as in ‘Weihenstephaner’. Interesting, I thought, so I went there and got a beer.

hoe does your gaarden grow


Beer. A great thing to drink on yet another very very hot day, when work has kept you busy (also a very good thing to drink while the season opener of Gray’s Anatomy is on in the same room). I used to like drinking Hoegaarden when I was in Belgium, and in fact was given a set of Hoegaarden glasses and beers, from the various types they make, as a parting gift by some Belgian friends. Wow, that was more than eleven years ago. This is one of those very glasses (though the beer is newer). Drinking it does remind me of Belgium, of Blokker and Inno and Champion (they’re shops, not greyhounds), of squared paper notebooks and crazy drivers, of warm cosy pubs and freezing cold rainy walks home, of phonecards and mitraillettes de dinde, of sitting on trains and trams just for the pleasure of reading a book. You can imagine me at a beer tasting festival. “Ah yes, this one has a fruity aroma, with a hint of waiting half an hour to use a cashpoint and then stepping in dogpoo.” Funny thing is, I didn’t drink Hoegaarden that often, I usually drank Fruit Defendu (made by them, though) or Leffe, perhaps a nice cold a Maes or occasionally my favourite, Charles Quint. I love a Kwak too. Mmm, that one has a nutty palatte, an aroma of that time when my mate Tel came over and downed one too quickly, and the room started to spin and he spent the next hour and a half in the toilet before wandering home in the snow. Happy times!

Sketched in my ‘bottle and glass brown paper sketchbook’. That name has nothing to do with cockney rhyming slang, by the way.

fat tire

fat tire

Illustration Friday this week is ‘bicycle’. Living in Davis, this one’s obvious. We’re the bicycling capital of the US. We have the bicycling Hall of Fame. I just bought a new bike seat. So I decided instead to draw a beer instead – Fat Tire, from the New Belgium Brewing Company, whose symbol is a bike. Sketched in the brown sketchbook, which has a few different bottles and glasses in them now.

Hope you had a good Easter! We did, it was nice. I ate rather a lot.

wir sind die meister, mein freund


Weihenstephaner (literally ‘Holy Steve’) is one of my preferred Bavarian beers. About six years ago my wife and I visited Bavaria and drove around (well, my wife drove, while I spoke German and made old ladies giggle), and I loved all the local Bavarian beers. Every town we visited sold it own local beer, brewed locally, with very few big commercial beers available, for which I was very grateful. I remember I had one particularly nice beer in Schliersee, with one of the nicest roast duck meals I’ve ever had. One brewery we visited was on the outskirts of Munich, calling itself the oldest brewery in the world: Weihenstephaner. It’s at an abbey, and they have been brewing beer since the 8th century, though their brewery founding date is officially in the 11th century. On that day I tried a ‘Kristallweiss’ beer, and that’s what I had last night when I sketched this.

My reasons for wanting to visit the brewery back then were linguistic: I had recently written an essay for my Master’s (one of my courses was in Germanic Philology) based largely around the competing influence of both Anglo-Saxon and Gothic on Old High German, focusing on the words for holy, ‘heilig’ and ‘weih’, the latter being from the Gothic. If you’re interested, the Anglo-Saxon influence won the day for the most part (not surprising as the German patron saint, St.Boniface, was English), but I wanted to go somewhere which still used the Gothic word. I was a big Wulfila reader back then.

Anyway, a new shop opened in Davis recently, the ‘Davis Beer Shoppe’ (quite why it needs the ‘pe’ at the end of ‘shop’ is unclear) and I was pleased to see that they had my favourite Weihenstephaner beer. I still have some Hefe glasses from Bavaria (this one in fact was given to us by a talkative lady called Hildi, the now sadly passed friend of my wife’s German grandmother, in her home town of Ingolstadt. That day, I learnt a lot about the Bavarian language!).

While drinking this beer, I noticed something. The Hefe glass reminded me very much like the World Cup, which probably explains why Germans are so accustomed to lifting it. Interestingly enough, after a few of these, one tends to come over all Klinsmann and start falling over easily…

this is your leffe

leffe blonde

Back to sketching in the brown sketchbook, and this is Leffe blonde. It reminds me of living in Belgium, going to Brussels on the weekend. I do like a Belgian beer. I have many Belgian beer glasses which I got while in Belgium, and now have in the US. My favourite Belgian beers are 1. Charles Quint (Keizer Karel), 2. Fruit Defendu (Verboden Vrucht), 3. Kwak, 4. Leffe Blonde, 5. Westmalle Triple. You know, in case you happen to see me in the pub in Belgium (which admittedly isn’t likely, but if you do, it’ll be the Cuve a Biere in Charleroi).

still getting the sketches in

cafe mediterranee, davis

Unusually on a Sketchcrawl, I stopped and had lunch. Most of the group ate at Cafe Mediterranee on D Street (far less crowded than the eateries around Central Park), and sketched, and talked about sketching. And then, after lunch, I realised that I had never drawn this building, and now was good time to tick that off my ‘to-draw’ list. Very interesting to see everyone’s different interpretations of it!    

three sketchers

When I was done (and I found that after going on and on about how wonderful the waterbrush is, I found myself missing my regular brushes – next time I won’t leave them behind!), I got back to practising my people sketching, quickly drawing Steve, Cynthia  and Laura. Cynthia (who drove over from Napa; I met her at the USk Symposium in Portland) was talking about ‘ten thousand hours’ I think it was, she hadn’t just dropped her sketchbook…

sandra torguson

While eating lunch I sketched on the menu, this was a quick drawing I did of Sandra Torguson, who is a fellow art-blogger from Sacramento. Check out her website, Sandra’s Mixed Bag.

smooth as silk day spa

As the Sketchcrawl drew to a close (that pun got old decades ago, by the way) we returned to Central Park, now quiet after the Farmer’s Market had departed, and I sketched the Smooth as silk day spa building (I’d been in there last week for an exhibit in the Davis Art About). I drew small. Very green.


After everyone had gone, I stopped off for a rest in Burgers’n’Brew, and was amazed to discover they had Kwak! My second favourite Belgian beer. After all this time, it’s now in Davis. I have one of those glasses at home, and so it was a nice treat at the end of the day. (Well, even nicer was watching the Giants win in the evening, having already had my beloved Tottenham win in the morning).

Worldwide Sketchcrawl 29

Let’s Draw Davis! Flickr group