♫ Jane Lee Hooker, Rollin’
🍺 BrewLab Steel Princess
Words & photos: Vincent Abbate
“Keep On Rollin’” says the official tour t-shirt.
That’s what I intend to do today. Keep things rolling with another new album and another Belgian beer. Or three.
I live just an hour east of Germany’s border with Belgium. So a quick shot and I’m in another country, where the language is different, the people are different and the beer is just as good, maybe even better. My excuse for making the jaunt this time is an appearance by Jane Lee Hooker – a steaming cauldron of blues, soul, gospel and rock’n’roll from New York City. I reviewed the band’s show at the same venue in Verviers some four years ago – you can find it here – so this time we turn to JLH’s latest and arguably best release, the aptly named Rollin’.
My first stop in the city of Verviers after arriving in the afternoon is the St Raph, a corner pub a few houses down from the concert venue Spirit of 66. Both of them are situated on the Place du Martyr, a once lively square that’s been decimated by the one-two punch of the pandemic and last summer’s catastrophic flooding. Half the stores and restaurants on and around the square are now boarded up. It’s a depressing sight.
A Val-Dieu blonde, potent and spicy, helps to lighten my spirits and reacquaints me with the local drinking customs. The chalice of foamy goodness arrives with a small bowl of roasted peanuts, and after I’ve paid and tipped the barkeeper (the bill comes with the beer), he offers me some peppered cheese cubes as well.
Actually “lighten my spirits” is an understatement. A couple of sips and I feel frickin’ great! This is the magic of beer. There, I said it. You’re in a foreign country, somewhere you don’t speak the language, it can feel intimidating. Some decent hop juice is a surefire way to put an end to that.
A short while Iater I make my way to L’Orchestre à Pots, a specialty food shop that carries a small stock of bottles from the local craft brewer, BrewLab. I walk away with a bottle each of Brass Baron and its more exotic sibling Steel Princess – the beer I’ve chosen to feature in today’s Listening Party.
So we’re all set. The bottle is chilled. Jane Lee Hooker is in the starting gates. Let ‘er rip.