Freitag, 15. September 2017

BXLBeer Fest 2017 - first (?) craft beer festival in Brussels

BXL Beer Fest 2017

A capital city of Belgium is known because of a lot of things – Manneken Piss, Grand place, food, beer. But not really a craft beer.

When I first came to Belgium, I have joined an event called Belgian Beer Weekend. After an evening spend on a Grand Place of Brussels. Crowded with drunken tourists, and being served beers that I could get in the supermarket next door, I got a strong impression that Belgian Beer Culture is vastly overrated. It took me a lot of time to realize, that a quite a few of this so called Belgian family brewers are owned by large international corporations and that the event I have attended is Belgian counterpart of Oktoberfest. Which means – hardly any craft beer lovers are going there.

Since then, I have been in many Belgian beer festivals and have developed a solid respect to the local scene. Even more, because there is slow opening to the beer from outside and local breweries started to realize that one can brew more styles that blonde, ambree double and triple.

Now going to the BXLBeerFest17. I was really excited about that event. Advertised as a “Good craft & honest beers...” was being held for the first time this year. I was even more excited because folks from the BeerHive were strongly involved there and I always enjoy to see proper beer info made using their app (

Summary of the festival:

Tours&Taxis, old warehouse and offices, formerly being a part of a railway system. Build in the beginning of the XX century contain several large and small building, that were carefully renovated almost 10 years ago, the main building has even got the Europa Nostra award for the renovation quality (2008). So, yes, the venue of the festival really kicks ass.

Appropriate. 25 Euro includes glass, booklet and tokens. Number of booklets were limited, the organizers encouraged use of internet (all beers were listed on Untapped). 

BTW. few days after the festival I accidentally broke my glass. I would be grateful if somebody could tell me where to get one (if possible)?

Who was there?:
49 breweries, 12 countries,


Who came to the idea that the last beer is being served at 8 pm on Saturday? OK, I could take it on Sunday – people need to go to work, brewers must get home etc. But Saturday? Simply weird.

Second worry is the attendance – I was there for a few hours on Saturday evening, which in my experience is always the moment when craft beer festivals are full. But not that one – in fact, there was a lot of space in the tour and taxis. Trying to be positive, I could say that the expo space was huge and there is a possibility that this added to an optical illusion of having less people attending the festival. Still I would be happy to know that the event was a commercial success.


Imperial IPA
Lord Hobo (USA)

Not a very good start of the festival. Not a bad beer, but clearly does not stand out of the crowd of IPAs one can get on the market. Average body, average, typical IPA fruity and grassy aroma. Lower than average bitterness. Mediocre at best.

Italian Grape Ale (IGA)
Ca’ del Brado (Italy)

Italians do wine. Don’t they? Well this could have been a true statement in the past, but nowadays Italians also brew. And they do it better and better. They can also be innovative – e.g.: by joining two worlds beer and wine. Italian Grape Ale was recognized as a separate style by BJCP in 2015. The main style characteristic is that the grapes are the part of the recipe, but they shouldn’t overcome other beer-like attributes. Color and the rest are rather open-end parameters.

Û Baccabianca is the first time I have tried a grape ale. And is complicated – 2 sorts of grapes, spontaneous fermentation, addition of Brettanomyces and aging for 6 months. Complex process and complex beer. First feeling is that it resembles a little Grodziskie/Gratzer style. Light sour, bit smoked. But the grapes give it a nice fresh and grape aroma twist. On top, there is a clear bitter note. Light carbonation and very smooth on the tongue. This clearly is a great beer!

The Veil Brewing (USA)

What do you say about one of the best double (imperial) IPAs I have ever tried? Humongous blast of oranges, grapefruit, pineapple and mango in the nose, tastes like hoppy heaven. Bitter after 3-4 sips. Not filtered, creamy, well balanced. FANTASTIC.

American IPA
Ocelot (USA)

Another interesting story from the festival. This is the second time in my life I have tried a beer with lupulin powder.
Lupulin powder (LupuLN2) is believed to be a new hype in brewing. Fresh hops are being dry frozen and literally mashed to dust. This apparently results in magical powder that would replace the fresh hops. The trick is that to obtain the effects of 1 kg hops by adding 0.5 kg of powder. I have tried a beer with lupulin recently at OtherHalf Brewing in NYC and was not impressed. In comparison to the other beers they were selling lupulin one was not great. I honestly hoped that the powder is not “much ado about nothing”, and that there is a learning curve that need to be done by brewers. Monkey on a train was second time I have tried a magical powder beer, and this time I was positively surprised. The final product was more than solid, aromatic, tropical-fruity blast of aroma. If I could complain a little is low bitterness. Still, it was clear for me that this time lupulin was used in a proper way. And the brewer has confirmed it – they have experimented with lupulin and forund out that just adding it to the tank is not sufficient. It will behave a little like oil, forming small balls and not really mixing in. To cope with that Ocelot has created a special technological process including a lot of additional mixing and pumping. The effects are amazing. Well done.

Thanks a lot for all the info

Wadesda 7
Saison blended with Catillon lambic
Brasserie de la Senne

Experimental beer from Brasserie de la Senne. Were you ever curious how would lambic-infused Saison taste? Well it tastes like lambic with a tick of bitter taste. Peppery, aromatic and unusual. Very interesting to try, but on every day basis only for lambic lovers.

Belgian Goat
Belgian Strong Ale BA
Brasserie de la Lienne

Normally, barrel-aged beers get some nice aroma that add to their complexity. In the modern craft people tend to put strong beers in the various styles of barrels, and usually obtain unique and amazing effects. But for me a golden rule is – the beer must have a kick-as aroma before barrel aging. And I mean it. Don’t try to barrel age international lager. Otherwise it will be like aging sparkling water. All aromas will come from the barrel, and IMHO - nothing great can be obtained that way.
From all other nations, Belgians seem to have a different opinion on that fact (and I respect it). I have already tried Belgian blonde that was aged in cider barrels (yep, tasted like cider). This time Brasserie de la Lienne have aged their Belgian golden ale in a Belgian Owl whisky barrels. Apparently, there are only 574 bottles of this beer, which makes it unique. Sadly, this is not followed by the aroma or taste. You know what is the characteristic of Belgian strong golden ales – these are great beers, that contain an enormous amount of booze in a way that you drink it almost like water. Smooth, not very yeasty, not too bitter, alcohol not detectable (even if it is clearly there). Amazing beer, but not the aromatic one. Barrel aging have clearly added a lot to the overall appearance – caramel aromas, boozy sweetness are on the positive side. Strange vegetable taste and veal appearance of being a cheap, washed out whisky are on the negative side. I was glad that I have tasted this one during the festival, because I believe that I would be quite annoyed after paying the high shop price for this one. 

100 Years
Pravda Beer Theatre (Ukraine)

Another fresh encounter for me – first ever beer from Ukraine. And a good one – a high class stout. Low carbonation, not very bitter, but the aroma and flavor of smoked plums make it original and outstanding. I hope that there will be no problems, but I am very thankful for selling this beer to me at 8:05 pm (after the sale stop).

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen