This past weekend was the 13th annual Belgian Beer Weekend, where 48 Belgian breweries served over 330 crafts of beer to a whole lot of people. The setting couldn’t have been more regal or perfect — a gated festival of tents was built right in the middle of the Grand Place, and on Sunday, the weather was unbelievable. Logistically, we were a bit confused at first. There were these yellow chips, which were ultimately traded in for each beer and returned when the beer chalice was returned. This way, someone who broke a beer glass would have to buy another chip. Then there were these bottle cap-like tokens, which at 1 euro apiece, were used to actually pay for the beer.
So how did we choose amongst 330 brews? Mostly at random, actually. We could have done some research and examined breweries that made beer we had previously tried and liked, or we could have sought out the more unusual Wallonian brews. But alas, coming to the festival was a bit of a spontaneous decision. Luckily, the spontaneous choices yielded some great results.
The Herkenrode Tripel was a decent start, especially considering we chose purely based off of its proximity to us at that moment. An abbey beer brewed by St-Jozef.
Next we went for a fruit beer — Timmermans Fraise, filled with strawberry sweetness. The brewery is John Martin, who also does Bourgogne des Flandres, a brown-red malty beer and one of our favorites from earlier tastings. I haven’t ordered a fruit beer in Belgium yet, although many fellow students have. I don’t know when I would order one. Perhaps when I don’t feel like beer.
The third was by far the best, and had come highly recommended by a friend. Rochefort 8, brewed by Abbaye Notre-Dame Saint-Remy. It’s a Trappist beer, meaning it is very, very special and brewed by monks. It comes from one of seven monasteries in the world that produce Trappist beer, with six of those being in Belgium.
The next was Scotch de Silly, chosen for its name, brewed by de Silly, also chosen for its name. The unusual mug held some fabulous dark beer though.
Watou Tripel, another abbey beer, from St-Bernardus. This was pretty delicious as well, far darker (obviously) and more interesting than the Herkenrode.
Lindemans, brewed by Lindemans, a lambic beer. It started out pretty tasty but had an odd finish, which once noted, ended enjoyment.
And unfortunately we ended on an unfortunate note with Duchesse de Bourgogne, brewed by Verhaeghe, which tasted like straight vinegar. We took it back, asking if that’s how it’s supposed to taste, and apparently, yes. Vinegar.
An awful lot of tasting later, we filled our bellies further with Belgian fast food and went to bed early. If you’d like to see the 330 brews we were dealing with, click here.