Week 33 (14–20 August 2023)

The cousin gang was gone by Tuesday this week, so we've had a bit of space to breathe. Some of F's friends took their place in the guest room (summer is visit after visit after visit), but they're very discreet so we have some space to breathe again. Which is good because IT'S HOT!! We're staying inside with blinds shut most of the time, and if we have to go out we try to do it before lunch. And it's about to get even hotter next week...

Bottling beer

Helped V, a friend we met at our climbing club, bottle about 300 L of beer in mostly 33 cL bottles (and a few 75 cL). After years working in breweries (and in tech before that), he recently started his own in the mountains of the Tanargue, in a hamlet between Rocles and Laboule. He's really into wild yeasts and barrel aging and it's all fascinating.

Bottling goes like this:

  1. put the bottle (reused .33 and .75 bottles from a company in Valence, France doesn't (yet?) have a Pfand system like in Germany) through the labelling machine
  2. place the bottles under the filling machine, V's can fill bottles in batches of 6. Press the big START button and it first empties the bottles of oxygen by injecting carbon dioxide, which prevents oxidation, before pouring the beer via many tubes straight from the stainless steel vats. If the beer foams a lot the pouring stops, and the bottle might have to go through the filling step a second time
  3. slide the bottles over to the encapsulation machine, actually just a separate station of the same machine that places capsules on bottles in (again) batches of 6, with a separate START button. This one presses metal capsules down on the bottles, it's noisy (I think it works with air pressure?), and it's apparently a bit tricky to adjust because 3 of the 6 encapsulation things repeatedly fail. The machine is an old, mostly mechanical bottling machine that V found and is still learning to work with
  4. put the bottles in cardboard boxes (previously assembled), in batches of 12 for the .33 and 6 for the .75.
  5. drink a beer

It was pretty fun to do this with V (plus his friend G, who was visiting because the sailboat he was chartering was almost sunk by orcas off Gibraltar—the crew was rescued by helicopter—so he had some free time, and a lot of interesting stories). We bottled for about 5 hours and once we got into the rhythm, it just flowed (like water into a sailboat with a hole in the hull?). Time flew by and when it was time to leave (didn't want to be late for barbecue night), it was hard to stop! We left with a lot of complimentary beers. We're going back next week for more bottling and some brewing!

Climbing in a cave

Did I mention it was hot? We went bouldering on Monday morning but overall it's a bit harder to find motivation these days.

Luckily there's a crag inside a cave, or caves actually, with more or less natural light depending on the route so climbable without headlamps. The name is Beaume Escure and it's only a few minutes from our regular crags of Casteljau, Mazet etc.

C and I had been there once but the topo isn't great here (complicated to record routes when they go front back above under) so we'd struggled to find routes and stuck to a few obvious ones. This time we went with N and B, and since N climbed here all of last summer (long hot summer), he showed us around. We climbed a couple of nice 5cs, jumped in the river, swung from a rope into the river, had a beer, and flashed a beautiful 6a+ that would have taken a lot more work without N's advice.

Good summer crag!


A few more dumb films as promised last week. They pass the time in the mid-afternoon when it's 28 degrees inside.


After finishing L'usage du monde I immediately started reading another book by Bouvier, Chroniques Japonaises. Same trip: after driving to Pakistan (L'usage du monde) Bouvier continued through India to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where he stayed for 9 months (Le poisson scorpion) and then caught a cargo ship to Japan (Chroniques japonaises) before sailing back to Europe.