My experiences with the Capitol of Belgium and beer festivals are rather bad. Belgian Beer Weekend is one of the worst beer events I have ever seen. It is targeted to tourists and people that want to get wasted. Therefore, I wasn’t sure whether another beer festival in Brussels could save this city’s reputation.
Artisanal (Craft) Beer Festival sounded very attractive though. So, I have decided to see what is all about. This time I got some male support (thanks João for joining) and we made our steps to the place close to the Brussels Central Station. No, not to the Grand Place, in the other direction. In fact, I have never been there before. The festival part was carried on the small square and the street next to it was closed for the traffic. Nice. The event was carried in the spacy, army-like tents standing on a Place de la Liberte. Entry price OK. Fresh air priceless. Atmosphere outside great. Outside smokers – shame on you.
Two points that are interesting. As you could have realized, its winter. The wear was great. Not even a single drop of rain and warm outside. Well, it does not change the fact that it is getting dark after 5. When we got there, it was still greyish. An hour later there was pitch black, especially under tents. If you think that the organizers have turned on the light you are wrong. As one of them stated – well, we didn’t think we may need lights. Congratulations.
On the other hand, they have put multiple candles, therefore we could still get a beer without losing our eyes or teeth.
Second point – I have found this event on Facebook, and didn’t know what to expect. After seeing the beer collection and getting some additional information booklets I realize that the whole event was to promote Belgian Beer Box (https://belgibeer.com/en/offer-gift-belgian-beer-box). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind. I would really appreciate if all promotion events are so natural, friendly and contain beer.
And there we go – the beer…
Hof ten Dormaal (Belgium), Belgian Strong Ale
It is not my first contact with this brewery, and every time they tend to surprise me. Their beers are rather experimental than excellent, but always interesting to try. This time the surprise was that a Belgian brewery knows how to produce bitter beer. OK, not an IPA class, still on top of typical Belgian yeast and malt notes there is a clear hoppy finish. What may sound funny for majority of ale-lovers is a major achievement for Belgium. Thumbs up for that one.
Cerezas y Chocolate
Hof ten Dormaal (Belgium), Dark, sour chocolate beer
The brewer told us that the chocolate was added to the beer just for the time of souring – max two days. The effect is a nice sour beer, in fact even very nice with some slight notes of dark chocolate. Clearly some chocolate in, but if you expect the level of chocolate stouts you will be disappointed. Otherwise very interesting sour ale.
De Dochter van der Korenaar (Belgium), Stout
Another Belgian brewery that should be interesting for a broader publicity. Their IPA is one of the best Belgian IPAs (which does not mean a lot), but also on my private best of list (means much more for the IPA). Charcoal is very solid and proper stout, black like a coal, clear aromas of coffee and some chocolate, some smoked stuff as well. Very prototypic, classical stout. Very valuable, especially in a country that does not yet realized how to make good stouts.
Brasserie Sainte Hélène (Belgium), Stout
Another interesting stout in the festival. This time is a bit too carbonated for my taste. But to balance that, it is hopped with Citra and Simcoe. Could have been better but citrus and grass aromas from hops save the day. Nice one.
Single Green Hop
De Plukker (Belgium), Belgian Ale
When describing this beer, I have told to my colleague that usually breweries will buy fresh hops directly from the field to do “fresh hop beer”. The brewer corrected me – the apparently have a hop field and will brew on top. This or that way the effects are quite decent. Nice citrus aroma, well balanced with malt. Some bitterness. Not bad.
Brasserie Verhaeghe (Belgium), Belgian Strong Ale
Very average case of the Belgian strong ale. Malt rules the taste and the aroma. Some biscuits in the taste. Rather sweet moderately carbonated. Unspectacular.
De Ranke (Belgium), Bitter
Belgian beer that is supposed to have over 60 IBU. Wow. Must be good. And in fact, is not bad at all. Decently bitter, well balanced with malt and yeasty. Some bread and honey. Since this beer is quite easy to get in many shops, I strongly suggest to buy one and try.