Category: History & Politics

Belgium Monks Make Beer History with Recipe from Lost 1700s Book!

According to The Guardian, Father Karel Stautemas, “in the presence of the town’s mayor and 120 journalists and enthusiasts,” made a startling announcement.


The 'Aliens' Meme

Image Via Cactus Hugs

The abbey, which Reuters notes has a phoenix emblem ‘with the Latin motto ‘Ardet nec consumitur’, meaning ‘Burned but not destroyed’,” was burned down in 1798 by French secular revolutionaries. As a result, the 12th century recipe was thought to be lost, but turns out the recipe, along with 300 others books, had been smuggled out and hidden within ancient archives.

Thus, Father Karel Stautemas told the awaiting crowd that, after “four years of research into the methods of monks that brewed beer in the Norbertine monastery” they had recreated the beer.



Father Karel Stautemas, subprior of Grimbergen Abbey, sips a glass of the rediscovered medieval beer in front of a stained-glass window symbolically depicting the phoenix

Image Via The Daily Mail

It seems that after rediscovering the recipes, the Monks called in some volunteers to read the old Latin and old Dutch, who revealed that the newly-discovered recipe had “details about the original monks’ brewing methods, specifically their use of hops rather than fermented herbs, which put the monks ahead of many of their contemporaries”.

The monks got to work. They did their best to keep the brewing as authentic as possible, such as using “wooden barrels and exploitation of particular local soil”, but changes had to be made. The Monks used only a few selected methods for brewing from the old manuscripts given that, as Master brewer Marc-Antoine Sochon explained to Daily Mail, “[i]n those times, regular beer was a bit tasteless, it was like liquid bread’”.

Who wants to drink liquid bread except for the person sitting to your left, dear reader?

Plus, changes keep in line with tradition, according to Father Stautemas, who said that that the monks of ancient times “kept on innovating” and thus “changed their recipe every ten years”.


2016, Abbot Erik de Sutter of Belgium's Grimbergen Abbey tastes a beer

Image Via UK Reuters

And this wasn’t their first rodeo. In 1950s the Order of Canons Regular of Premontre, located at Grimbergen Abbey in Belgium, were approached by local brewer Maes. Since then, the abbey has famously created and worked with commercial brewers to “to use the Grimbergen name and emblem on its ‘abbey beer’.”

The ale won’t be available for mass consumption until the late 2020s, but maybe that’s a good thing. The Daily Mail warns us to “be careful” because “the new ancient brew – at 10.8 per cent alcohol content it’s likely to blow your cassock off.”

Personally, I’d take my chances


Featured Image Via The Guardian

fire and fury

‘Fire and Fury’ Sequel Will Arrive in June

The Washington Post reports that the author of last year’s Fire and Fury is releasing another book that will shed a light on the Trump administration’s activities.

Michael Wolff’s Siege: Trump Under Fire will be published by Henry Holt and Company in June, and it will serve as a follow-up to his prior release. Siege is expected to provide another thorough, behind-the-scenes look at the White House and the president, who Wolff describes as, “volatile, erratic, and exposed.”

Wolff shared the news via Twitter, as well as the book’s June 4th release date:



In particular, Siege will focus on the Robert Mueller investigation and the alleged ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials back in 2016.

Wolff reportedly spoke to over one-hundred-fifty sources to compile the information; however, Holt declined to disclose whether or not the sources are still currently in the Trump administration.


Featured Image via The Daily Beast.

Long Lost Journal Found After 200 Years

The Dutch Revolt was one of the defining moments in the history of Europe. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was a key figure in this period, helping Prince William the Silent form the Dutch Republic. Unfortunately, Johan was sentenced to death for treason in what many critics say was a “kangaroo court”. For the longest time, an account of his final days was never found. Until now.

According to The Guardian, an old diary written by one of Johan’s servants has resurfaced. It details how Johan refused to accept his execution in his final years in prison during his trial.

The book is currently on display at Flehite Museum in Amersfoort, Johan’s old home in the Netherlands. It will be on display until the end of the year, on the 400th anniversary of his death.

The museum has expressed great excitement about retrieving this book:


“It has a national value, it is priceless, in a way. There was not a lot about sentimentality in the book but you can see the old man at seventy-two, when he died, could not believe it would end like this. He could not believe that his former friend and companion wants to achieve this at the end.”


A little piece of Dutch history sounds like an interesting read.



Featured Image Via Wikipedia

Alyson Richman and The Secret of Clouds

The Incredible Teacher Who Inspired Bestseller Alyson Richman’s New Novel

We’ve all had a teacher or two who stand out in our formative years as going above and beyond, making the experience of education into something truly extraordinary. When we remember the debt of gratitude we owe these individuals, it’s easy to imagine why bestselling author Alyson Richman might write a novel like The Secret of Clouds—a book which Richman calls her “love letter to teachers.”

When speaking with Richman about her career, which amounts to no less than seven internationally bestselling novels, translated into a total of thirty languages, and an upcoming Hollywood adaptation of The Lost Wife, the role her parents played in shaping the unique Richman’s perspective, is immediately apparent. This, it should be noted, is the unique view of the world which has allowed Richman to create such rich and vibrant worlds on the page, worlds described as ‘beautiful and heartfelt,’ ‘evocative’, ‘riveting,’ and ‘captivating,’ by everyone from New York Times bestselling authors such as Kristin Hannah and John Lescroart, to publications such as The Library Journal and InStyle. 

Richman’s father was an electrical engineer, who taught her to understand things by taking them apart and putting them back together. Her mother, on the other hand, was an artist, who would take her daughter to museums and point out how brush strokes and distance effect the image; how, when one looks at a sculpture, something new is revealed from every angle. Richman says she writes in these terms, and notes that her parents respective outlooks led to her own intellectual curiosity as well as a vivid, visual life. This makes total sense when you look at Richman’s body of work: each novel is set in a different country, during a different time period (from Paris in World War II, to pre-war Prague, to Chile under Pinochet) featuring and exploring different creative processes and famous creatives (Richman has tackled everyone from Van Gogh to The Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.)


Alyson Richman's book covers
Images Via Amazon


While her parents were without doubt the teachers who moulded Richman into the fascinating and versatile author she is today, it was another teacher entirely who inspired the plot of her latest novel, The Secret of Clouds. 

Richman has a friend who teaches third grade, and every year for the past twenty or so years, she has assigned her class the same project: to write a letter to their eighteen-year-old future selves, outlining their hopes and dreams; a letter from the past, a message for the future. She takes on the responsibility of keeping these letters until the children reach high school graduation, at which time she mails them to the graduates. Understandably, Richman was blown away when she learned of her friend’s foresight in creating these written time capsules for her students, and wanted to write a story that honored not only teachers’ commitment to the children in their classes, but their ability to create a permanent print of someone’s childhood. But Richman also wondered: had any one instance or student stood out in the two decades her friend had been running this project?

The answer…was yes.


Alyson Richman, and the cover of The Secret of Clouds
Image Via An Unlikely Story


Richman’s ‘love letter to teachers’ is an ode to humanity, to the transformative bond and lasting impact a truly great teacher can have on a student, on a family, on a community. The Secret of Clouds begins in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev, following a young couple. Katya, a rising ballerina, and graduate student Sasha fall in love shortly before a devastating tragedy befalls their nation. Later, after they have emigrated to the United States, their son Yuri is born with a rare health condition which prevents him from attending school. Enter Maggie, a dedicated teacher who, despite her own past trauma, agrees to tutor Yuri at home. Teacher and student form a powerful bond, with Yuri’s passion and curiosity inspiring Maggie to take steps to improving her own life, howevershe’ll never realize just how strong Yuri has made her—until she needs that strength the most.” 

Though not set in the past as Richman’s previous novels have been, fans of Richman will be pleased to learn that The Secret of Clouds still has history woven through it; the Chernobyl disaster sees Yuri as one of the many children born years later with devastating defects as a result of the radiation, while creative themes are explored through Maggie’s teaching abilities, and Katya’s past as a dancer in Kiev’s National Theater. PopSugar’s glowing review assures readers that “Richman’s first foray into a contemporary story will make you forget about the past,” while the Washington Independent Review of Books calls The Secret of Clouds “An exquisite story,” noting that “Richman’s great strength in designing the emotional ebb and flow of her engaging narrative should win accolades and a heap of new readers.” Booklist also comments that The Secret of Clouds “is tailor-made for book groups.”

So what are you waiting for? In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, get your copy of what New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff calls Alyson Richman’s ‘unforgettable gift of a book’ The Secret of Clouds, and remember those in your life who have taught you the most.



Bookstores and Libraries New Targets for Far-Right Demonstrations

A white nationalist group called American Identity Movement chose a Washington bookstore, Politics and Prose, as the site for its latest “peaceful disruption.” This continues a current trend of bookstores as the latest destinations for such nationalist demonstrations.

The group’s demonstration was apparently in response to Politics and Prose hosting author Jonathan M. Metzl, who was discussing his book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland. According to the summary provided by Amazon, his book aims to address the idea that,

“Many lower- and middle-class white Americans are drawn to politicians who pledge to make their lives great again. But as Dying of Whiteness shows, the policies that result actually place white Americans at ever-greater risk of sickness and death…White Americans, Metzl argues, must reject the racial hierarchies that promise to aid them but in fact lead our nation to demise”

AIM founder and president, Patrick Casey, disagrees with the message of the book, which he says “fails to discuss the real reasons why leftism has been killing America’s heartland… America’s road to restoration is nationalism, identitarianism, non-interventionism, protectionism, and populism.”



Patrick Casey
Patrick Casey at Unite the Right Protest in Charlottesville

He and other members of his organization arrived en masse at the bookstore and interrupted the author event, holding megaphones and chanting, “This land is our land,” as shown in the footage tweeted by Catherine Wigginton:

AIM has been linked to another white national organization, Identity Evropa, which was involved in planning the infamous and tragic Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, VA. This is due to the fact that AIM’s president previously served as Executive Director for Identity Evropa.

Casey denies that AIM is a rebranding of IE—the organization’s site insists that “these former actions…  do not reflect upon Mr. Casey or the membership he had developed under his tenure as leader of Identity Evropa.” Nevertheless, the two organizations share similar goals and values, and AIM is made up of many members who transferred over from IE.

Before the demonstration at Politics and Prose, AIM interrupted a “story hour” for kids led by drag queens in New Orleans, where they “disrupted the event before being asked to leave.”

This is not the first time books and libraries have become targets for white nationalists in recent times. Berkleyside reports that a “far-left bookstore” called Revolution Books has “found itself under attack from far-right activists” as many as “ten times in six months” according to an article written on March 4th, 2018. The protestors wore MAGA hats and were not seemingly affiliated with AIM.