Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Geuze Mega Blend-a new beer for Toer de Geuze, 2009

One of the very interesting things I learned during my many lambic brewery and blendery visits in November was the creation of a new lambic beer, especially for the 2009 Toer de Geuze (Tour de Gueuze.)

The event will occur on Sunday April 26, at nine of the eleven remaining lambic producers: all except Cantillon and Girardin.

The new beer is called "Geuze Mega Blend."

This brew is a blend of lambics from eight of the 11 remaining lambic producers; namely: Boon, De Cam, Drie Fonteinen, Hanssens, Lindemans, Oud Beersel, Timmermans and De Troch. Geuze Mega Blend was bottled October 15, and is currently maturing in 75 cl bottles. I hope to experience the Tour, and look forward to tasting Geuze Mega Blend!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Payottenland beer tour-the Lambic breweries and blenderies

Photo: Frank Boon of Brouwerij Boon pulls a sample of young lambic from a foeder

Prices for the De Cam lambic beers, inside the blendery. Really cheap!!

I visited five lambic breweries and three lambic blenderies on my trip to Belgium last month.

These were Boon, Cantillon, De Cam, Drie Fonteinen, Hanssens, Mort Subite, Oud Beersel and Timmermans.

What surprised me the most was how tart and sour the lambic and kriek beers tasted, right from the oak barrels (foeders) at the breweries that are known for producing sweet lambics and fruit beers.

There is good news: Timmermans has produced an Oude Gueuze for the first time in years. The beer is set to be released for sale in March in Belgium. I tasted the beer at the brewery when I visited with Danny Van Tricht on November 20, and we found it superb. The beers from Timmermans-hopefully including the Oude Gueuze-will be imported to the U.S. by Belakus Imports, beginning next year.

Timmermans also is considering crafting an Oude Kriek. Judging by the Kriek we tasted right from the barrels, it will be another great beer.

We also had a superb visit to the new LambikODroom Cafe at Drie Fonteinen, as well as lunch at the great beer restaurant Boelekewis in Dworp, and the Hanssens blendery, with Lorenzo Dabove and several of this Italian friends.

Cantillon brewmaster Jean Van Roy, at the Cantillon Quintessence beer and food pairing event on 22 November.

Photo: Lorenzo Dabove, the "Prince of the Payottenland" with Danny Van Tricht, at De LambikODroom in Beersel.

Lydie Hulpiau and Armand Debelder in the new LambikOdroom cafe at Drie Fonteinen in Beersel.

Photo: pouring a lambic at Hanssens of Dworp.

Photo: Bruno Reynders at Brouwerij Mort Subite, with a glass of lambic right from the barrels.

Photo: Gert Christiaens pulling a lambic at Oud Beersel

Photo: the brewmaster of Timmermans pouring a kriek from a barrel.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Trappist beer website

Photo: Danny talking with Brother Jules at Achel.

My very good Belgian friend, Danny Van Tricht, has created a great new website about Trappist beers and cafes.
Danny and I have visited all seven Trappist Abbey breweries multiple times.
The website is:
I think it's one of the most informative and professionaly produced Trappist websites.

Photo: Danny Van tricht in the cellar of Cafe Yes, Libramont, Luxembourg Province.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

New articles in Ale Street News and Celebrator Beer News

Karel Goddeau at the brewkettle, Brouwerij Slaghmuylder

I have had a couple of new articles published within the last week or ten days, and more are on the way.
In the December 2008 issue of Celebrator Beer News, I wrote about the historic Brouwerij Slaghmuylder in Ninove, East Flanders. Slaghmuylder brews the Witkap beers as well as fine lagers such as Kerstbier and Paasbier.
The brewmaster is Karel Goddeau, who is also the blender of the excellent De Cam lambic beers. I visited Geuzestekerij De Cam last month, and tasted the De Cam Lambic, Kriekenlambic and Geuze on draft at the De Cam Volkscafe, which is just yards from the blendery.
In the December 2008 issue of Ale Street News, I wrote about Brouwerij Contreras in East Flanders, and their delicious brews, as well as the new beers being imported by 12 percent imports in the NYC area. These breweries include Brasserie Cazeau and Brouwerij Contreras, among others.
I also mentioned the closing of the atmospheric HopDuvel cafe in Ghent, but have since learned that HopDuvel, which has been a beer specialty cafe since 1980, will reopen this month!
Additionally, I have a big, 3000+ word Belgian feature due out in a well-known beer magazine within the next 10 days.
Merry Christmas to everyone. Enjoy those Belgian Christmas beers!

Photo: pouring yeast into a baudelet heat exchanger at
Brouwerij Contreras in Gavere-Asper, near Ghent.
This is hands-on work!

Laurent from Brasserie Cazeau in Templeuve, Hainaut province, with the fine Tournay de Noel.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Belgium, November 2008: another great trip

My 18th trip to Belgium was another great success. I visited eleven breweries and three gueuze blenderies, as well as the BAB fest in Brugge, the Quintessence at Cantillon, and the HORECA Expo in Ghent.

The 2nd edition of the BAB fest in Brugge/Bruges featured 200 beers from 55 breweries, including Westvleteren. There was also food cooked with beer on offer. The location was inside the Belfry-a fine historic spot.

The Quintessence at Cantillon was a beer and food pairing event, held throughout the brewery. Many of Cantillon's beers were matched with local artisan foods.

The HORECA Expo is a professional trade fair for Hotels, Restaurants, and Cafes. Many breweries were there. Location was the Ghent Flanders Expo Center.

I visited the following breweries for the first time: Alvinne's new brewery in Heule; Brouwerij Bavik; Bouwerij Leroy (SAS); Brouwerij Huyghe; Brouwerij Mort Subite; Brouwerij Boon; Brasserie Lefebvre; and Brouwerij Timmermans.

Also made first visits at these gueuze blenderies: De Cam; Hanssens; and Oud Beersel.

I had the pleasure of repeat visits at Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen and Gaverhopke.

Look for future posts, articles and photos based on this excellent trip!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Belgium-trip 18, plus new articles

Photo: Armand Debelder at Drie Fonteinen

The best time of the year is upon us-Autumn-and it's also time for me to return to Belgium, for the 18th time.
I'll visit about ten breweries, the Brugge beer fest ( and the Quintessence at Cantillon. See
I'll also visit quite a few Belgian cafes that are far off the beaten path, which is always fun.
The Brugge beer fest this weekend with feature about 200 beers from 55 breweries.

As I've been so busy planning for the trip, I did not have time to post about my articles in the October/November issues of Ale Street News and Celebrator Beer News.

I had an article on Rodenbach, as well as my "Belgian Babble" column and a short piece on the Manhattan Cask Ale fest at Chelsea brewing, in Ale Street News.

I had lunch with Rodenbach owner Jan Toye in NYC in September, and he told me that a second batch of the Vin de Cereale is in a foeder (oak barrel) aging. We should see bottles of batch 1 (375 ml size) in the US at some point. He also gave me some other possibly exciting news: the brewery is considering direct bottling from some foeders with no blending.

This is important, as each indivual foeder has its own microflora and distinctive flavor. Brewmaster Rudi Ghequire gave me and two friends, Daisy Claeys of Brugs Beertje and Stephen Lipps of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, tastes from half a dozen foeders during our tour May 22. Each was very different, and two really stood out as superb. Given there are 294 of these oak barrels at Rodenbach, perhaps there are more of these gems. I hope this idea becomes a reality

Rodenback Grand Cru, and the Foederbier served at places like Belga Queen in Brussels and Ghent, are typically blends from several different foeders. Rodenbach has never bottled a batch right from a single foeder, as far as I know.

I also had an story called "Beer and Food Celebrated in Belgium" in Celebrator Beer News, where I wrote about the excellent Belga Queen in Ghent, which has superb beer and food. I covered the world-classic Drie Fonteinen restaurant, brewery and new LambikOdroom tasting cafe in Beersel as well, and the excellent Brasserie Erasmus in Brugge.

Did I mention I'll be returning to Drie Fonteinen?

More about trip 18 after my return!

Photo: Rodenbach Foederbier at Belga Queen Ghent

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SAVOR to return to Washington, D.C. in 2009

The SAVOR beer and food event, hosted by the Brewer's Association, will return to D.C. on May 30, 2009.
The venue will be the National Building Museum. The announcement was made at the Media Luncheon during the Great American Beer festival, October 10, 2008. I look foward to attending this great event once again!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Brewer's Association SAVOR event-Washington, D.C.

Top photo: Leslie and Layna of Boston Beer, enjoying some fine chocolates from Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates.

Bottom photo: Julia and Cindy of the Brewer's Association

(Note: this article was originally intended to run in Celebrator Beer News, however with all the great coverage of Food and Beer in the new October/November issue, there was not enough room for it. However, Lucy Saunders does talk about SAVOR in her article "Dreams of Food for a Fest" on page 10 of the new CBN.)

An event to SAVOR, in Washington, D.C.

“All three sessions, with 700 attendees each, sold out in advance!” said Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewer’s Association. SAVOR, described as “an American Craft Beer and Food Experience” by the BA, featured a smorgasbord of great beers from across the USA, and fine foods to match. There were 96 different beers offered from 48 different breweries, as well as 35 appetizers, which were served like tapas.
The variety of delicacies was very wide ranging, with such treats as succulent Tenderloin Bruschetta; Lager Steamed Thai Turkey with Shiitake Dumplings; and sweet treats from Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates of Kansas City, which had five different chocolates on hand. Having been to Belgium 17 times, I know great chocolates, and these were among the best I have tasted on this side of the pond. Those of you living in the Bay Area should be happy to know that this chocolatier opened a location in San Francisco in March! See
The beer selection was equally as interesting, as many of the brews at SAVOR are not normally available in the D.C. area. Breweries from across the country were on hand, such as Deschutes, with Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter, paired with Blue Cheese and Walnut Shortbread Rounds; Four Peaks Brewing with Kiltlifter and 8th Street Ale; Great Lakes from Cleveland, with Elliot Ness Amber Lager, paired with Stilton Bacon and Scallion Puffs; New Albanian Brewing, with Hoptimus Imperial IPA and Thunderfoot Oak Aged Cherry Imperial Stout, paired with Artisan Cheese from Capriale Farm; New Belgium Brewing with Abbey Dubbel and Mothership Wit, paired with Peking Duck Purses; and, among many others, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing’s Devout Stout, which paired well with Christopher Elbow’s Raspberry Chocolates.
Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing wowed the crowd with Judgment Day Abbey Ale and Veritas 003. Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River was busy every session, serving up Pliny the Elder and Supplication to throngs of eager beer lovers.
East coast favorites such as Allagash, Brooklyn, Clipper City, Dogfish Head, Stoudt’s and Troegs were on hand as well. From the Midwest, breweries like New Holland, the St. Louis Brewery, Sprecher, and Two Brothers were standouts.
SAVOR also featured a number of seminars (referred to as Salons by the BA) on various beer and food subjects, such as one on beer and cheese pairings by Garrett Oliver; and another with Hugh Sisson of Baltimore’s Clipper City Brewing, on how to pair foods/seafoods from the Chesapeake Bay area with great beers.
I attended a Salon called “Cross Drinking Without Social Stigma” with Lauren Buzzeo of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Ray Isle of Food and Wine Magazine, and Ken Wells of Conde Nast Portfolio. The subject: Wine writers and their beer drinking preferences, and how drinking great beers had changed their perceptions of malted beverages. Each writer chose a different beer to pair with a cheese or chocolate, and all attendees were given the same three samples, as part of a blind tasting. The audience was nearly split among the three writers as to which had chosen the best food and beer pairing.
The next Salon featured none other than Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Marnie Old, who is both an Assistant Dean of the French Culinary Institute, and a Wine Sommelier. The subject: a debate on pairing foods with wine and beer. Needless to say, it was a spirited one, as always when Sam and Marnie clash. Not that I’m biased, but Sam carried the debate with his beer and food pairings. OK, maybe I am biased! Beer and food can pair superbly.
Any upscale event, which SAVOR certainly was, needs a classy venue to set the stage. The Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, an ornate building completed in 1934, was the perfect locale for the event. The Mellon Auditorium has been described as one of the finest examples of Classical Revival Architecture in America. The Brewer’s Association certainly did their research in choosing the site for SAVOR.
As to the future of SAVOR, Julia Herz had this to say: “The Brewer’s Association is receiving feedback daily on SAVOR, and we will be discussing, over the next few months, the event and its future.” See

Photo: a young lady with Free State Brewing, Lawrence, Kansas

Right photo: Natalie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing

Photo: Ken Wells, Conde Nast Portfolio

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Beeradvocate's Belgian Beer Fest 2008 another big success

Photo: Todd and Jason Alström with Duvel Brewmaster Hedwig Neven

Over the past weekend, I attended the Beeradvocate Belgian Beer Fest for the third year in a row, and I'm happy to say this one was another very successful event for the Alström Brothers, Jason & Todd. "All three sessions sold out several days in advance" Todd told me happily, as we spoke during the "Night of the Funk" on Friday, September 26.

About 500 tickets were sold to the "Night of the Funk" which featured standout brews like Cambridge Brewing Delilah, a blend of barrel aged strong golden ale with Brettanomyces Anomalous and Bruxellensis, and an herbed blonde gruit beer.
I had lunch at Cambridge the same day, and brewmaster Will Meyers was doing some experimental blending while I was there. The food and beers at Cambridge are very good, and it's a must stop while in the Boston area.

Other brews such as Deschutes The Dissident (sort of in the style of Rodenbach Grand Cru); Ithaca Beer Co. Vitus and Champagne Grissette; New Belgium Love; The Bruery Saison Rue; and Lost Abbey's entire lineup of Cable Car 08, Cuvee de Tomme, Saint's Devotion 08 and Sinners 08 were superb.

There was a speaker panel Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Duvel/Moortgat brewmaster Hedwig Neven spoke about the new Duvel draft during the Saturday evening session. Hedwig said the Duvel draft is a new beer, with a reformulated recipe. It weighs in at 6.8% abv and is deceptively drinkable, with a light body. A side by side tasting of Duvel Draft and bottle-conditioned Duvel was lead by Hedwig for an interested crowd. Note that the Duvel Draft is not the same beer as the "Red" labeled bottle-conditioned Duvel: "You'd never go from 6.8% abv to 8.5% abv with just bottle-conditioning" Hedwig told me. "You might get half a percent abv at the most. The new Duvel Draft is a different beer from the bottle-conditioned Duvel" he continued.

There was a plethora of great brews during both Saturday sessions. With about 1,000 tickets sold per session, the fest remained comfortable and not packed to the gills as other beer fests sometimes are. There was good food available, such as waffles, Flemish Beef stew, mussels, bratwursts and more. A chocolatier was on hand, and the free samples were very well received. I know, as I went back for seconds and thirds. Fourths, even!

See for info on future Beeradvocate beer fests at the Cyclorama in Boston. The next BA fest is the Extreme Beer Fest February 20-21, 2009.

Cheers, Bros.

Patrick and Rachel Rue, of the Bruery. Their beers were very well enjoyed at the fest!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Duvel brewmaster Hedwig Neven to appear at Beeradvocate's Belgian beer fest

Duvel brewmaster Hedwig Neven, on the right, with an assistant brewer.

Hedwig Neven, the brewmaster of Brouwerij Duvel/Moorgat, located in Breendonk/Puurs, Antwerp Province, will be a guest speaker at the Beeradvocate Belgian beer fest this weekend in Boston.

Hedwig will be talking about the new Duvel draft, as well as comparing the draft and bottled versions, beginning at 7 pm Saturday night, during session two.

I toured the brewery on May 29, and enjoyed a few beers with Hedwig in the Duvel Depot tasting cafe.

I look forward to tasting the new Duvel draft and hearing Hedwig speak about it.

The new brewhouse at Duvel Moortgat.

Hop Street!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

De Struise Brouwers

Urbain Cotteau, pouring a Tsjeeses at the bar at "The Noordhoek" resort

With all the attention De Struise Brouwers-The Sturdy Brewers-have been getting lately, I thought I'd share my photos as well as an article I wrote last year.
I visited the "resort" where Urbain et al raise Ostriches, and also brainstorm their next great brews, on Feb. 27, 2007. My friends Danny Van Tricht, Jan and I had paid a visit to Brouwerij St-Bernardus in Watou in the late afternoon and early evening, and it was 8 pm/20.00 before we got started. It was a very dark night, and the back roads in West Flanders are not very well lit. Actually, that's a vast understatement on my part!

Danny, acting as "Bob", aka the driver, told me that we would have never found the place without his trusty GPS. Find it we did, though, and we were in for a fine evening of Belgian hospitality.

With Urbain as our host, we tasted all the De Struise beers that were on hand, inside the cozy main room.
"The resort" as the Sturdy Brewers refer to the "Noordhoek" guesthouse, is actually a place that can be rented to groups of up to 25 people. The "Noordhoek" is very popular in summer and on weekends, as a place where groups can have a place to have a reunion, post-wedding celebration, or other celebrations.

As we visited in the middle of winter, there was a roaring fire to ward off the cold, as we talked about all the Struise beers and also the Ostrich farm. Fresh-baked bread and delectible pates made with beers like St-Bernardus and Duvel were spread around and savored. We sampled and compared Pannepot and Pannepeut. The Aardmonnik/Earthmonk was incredibly good. There were other beers too.....a great evening. The next day was a fine one as well, as Danny and I visited Brouwerij Westvleteren in the morning, and then visited with Carlo, Peter and Urbain at Deca, where we sampled more of the De Struise beers, right at the source.

Fast forward to Sept. 2008: I have not even sampled the Black Albert as yet, however I know it must be a good one. Maybe next trip to Belgium I might find some....

Here's my Celebrator article on De Struise and St. Bernardus:

St. Bernardus and De Struise

photos: De Struise Brouwers

(Photo: Urbain Cotteau, enjoying the good life.)

Carlo, with a sample of Struiselensis, right from the open copper fermenter.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Beeradvocate's Belgian Beer Fest returns...again!

(Photo: Trappistes Rochefort brewer Gumer Santos and Beeradvocate's Todd Alström)

In just a few short weeks, one of the premier Belgian beer events in North America returns to its home in Boston. The Brothers Alstrom, Jason and Todd, will once again lead the way in organizing "The Return of the Belgian Beer Fest" at the Cyclorama.
I attended the event in 2006 and 2007, and was suitably impressed. The beer and brewery list covered a who's who in Belgian and Belgian-inspired brewing, and the guest speakers were some of the most noted in the industry. While the speaker list has not been posted yet for this year's event, to be held Sept. 26-27, I'd say that judging by last year, when Trappistes Rochefort brewmaster Gumer Santos and Yvan de Baets of Brasserie de la Senne were guests, beer lovers can expect some well known figures at the event.

I wrote an article about last year's beer fest, published here: Belgian Beer Fest

Photos from the 2006 and 2007 fests:

2006 BA fest

2007 BA fest

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Brasserie Trappistes Rochefort

Photo: Brother Pierre at brewkettle one in the brewhouse at Rochefort/
Abbaye Notre Dame de St-Remy

I visited Brasserie Rochefort at Abbaye Notre Dame de St-Remy, for a third time, on May 27. Danny Van Tricht and I were warmly greeted by brewmaster Gumer Santos, as well as Brother Pierre and Brother Antoine.

Rochefort is currently brewing about 21,000 hl per year, of which about 60% is the 8 (9.2% abv) with about 30% for the mighty 10 (11.3%) and ten percent is the 6 (7.5%.)

We also had a fine lunch at La Gourmandise in the town of Rochefort. This restaurant features Cuisine a la Biere, and a fine beer list, including all the Rochefort beers. There are all sorts of breweriana from Brasserie Trappistes Rochefort throughout the restaurant.

Brother Antoine, the retired brewer, at brewkettle one at Rochefort.

Brewmaster of Brouwerij Bockor at foeder (oak barrel)

Rudi Ghequire at Foeder 132, Brouwerij Rodenbach

Photo of Rodenbach brewmaster Rudi Ghequire

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rodenbach article in Celebrator now on-line

My cover feature on Brouwerij Rodenbach, in the August/September issue of Celebrator Beer News, is now on-line.

You can click on the photo and see additional photos.



Sunday, August 3, 2008

Brouwerij Rodenbach-cover feature, Celebrator

I am happy to say that my article on Brouwerij Rodenbach is featured on the cover of the new Celebrator Beer News (August/September issue), along with a full-page photo of the old malting kiln, which dates to 1864.

Several of my photos were published with the 1600 word article.

Thanks to Editor/Publisher Tom Dalldorf for devoting so much coverage to Belgium's great beer culture, and to brewmaster Rudi Ghequire for giving me a superb tour.

The article is on-line here: August/September issue

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ommegang's "Belgium Comes to Cooperstown" beer fest

(Photo: Brewer's Art brewer Rob Perry and wife Deb Shapiro)

One of the best Belgian beer events in the USA is held every summer on the grounds of Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY.

I attended the fest in 2006, 2007, and 2008, had a great time.

The following article, based on the 2007 Ommegang weekend, was to be published in Celebrator Beer News last year. Unfortunately, due to the passing of the late, great Michael Jackson, there was not room for the article. There was very extensive coverage of the life and times of the Bard of Beer, and rightly so.

The fully sold-out event is this coming weekend, August 1-2, 2008. I hope to see Belgian beer lovers there!


Chuck Cook

Ommegang’s VIP Beer Dinner and Belgian beer fest

On July 20-21, one of America’s most impressive Belgian beer events was once again held in a 200 acre field in Upstate New York. On the grounds of Brewery Ommegang, near Cooperstown, over a thousand eager patrons gathered for a weekend of excellent food, camaraderie, and a couple of hundred different Belgian and Belgian-style brews.
As last year, hundreds of people camped in the fields surrounding the brewery, and informal tastings broke out early Friday afternoon. I had a fine start, sharing bottles of ‘99 Cantillon Lou Pepe Gueuze and Kriek, as well as a De Cam Oude Geuze, with Steve, Tom and Rob from the Brewer’s Art in Baltimore. Always keep brewers happy!
After shocking my tastebuds into action, it was time to head to the VIP Beer Dinner. Marketing Director Larry Bennett and crew really amped things up this year, presenting a six-course extravaganza of food and beer. With appetizers of pates, breads, meats, and cheeses, everyone was suitably warmed up for beer brats and red cabbage; then a salad; next came Mussels and fries, a Belgian favorite; the fourth course was very filling, with roasted stuffed pork, oven-roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts; next came a fruit platter with assorted cheeses; and the sixth course, puff pastries with ice cream.
Of course, there was a more than ample supply of brews: Duvel, Maredsous 10, McChouffe, Rodenbach and Rodenbach Grand Cru were on hand from Belgium. All the Ommegang beers-produced about 50 yards away-were also offered. Abbey Dubbel, Hennepin, Rare Vos, Three Philosophers, and Witte were being savored by thirsty attendees.
An even bigger treat was the “official” release of Ommegang’s new Ommegeddon ale, which brewmaster Randy Thiel describes as “A Funkhouse Saison: It’s dry-hopped with Czech Saaz to balance the dry, well-attenuated palate of the brew. The Brettanomyces character is just starting to show itself, and should come to funky fruition within six months.”
Ommegeddon (8% abv) will be a seasonal release each year.
The beer dinner also featured a sneak preview of the new Chocolate Indulgence Stout (7%) which is brewed with chocolate malts.....and real Belgian chocolate! “It’s 40 ibu, and is created with a fruity Belgian yeast enjoy and indulge!” Thiel told me.
While Friday was cool and rainy, Saturday turned out to be a fantastic day, with low humidity and temps of about 80 degrees. Perfect! Even better was the dizzying selection of 240 different brews on offer at the beer festival, from countries like Belgium, Canada, and the U.S.A.
Once again, there were plenty of excellent Belgian-style breweries in attendance at “Belgium Comes to Cooperstown.” Baltimore’s The Brewer’s Art was a popular booth, with Saison and Tripel being my favorites.
Tomme Arthur was out from the West Coast, with his Lost Abbey lineup of brews, which were very much in demand. I happily sampled...savored really....all the beers on offer, while Tomme described each brew in detail. Scott Lawrence of Captain Lawrence brewing in Pleasantville, NY continued to impress with brews like St. Vincent’s Dubbel. Cambridge Brewing of Massachusetts once again had a stellar range of beers, like L’Amour de Jour and Saison du CBC. There were many more superb Belgian-style brews at this event; I wish I had the space to list them all!
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper fest without plenty of authentic Belgian brews to choose from. Many Belgian importers were on hand, serving up world classics like Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek, Malheur Dark Brut, and Urthel Samaranth, among many others.
Next year’s event should be held the first weekend of August.....get tickets on-line beginning in mid-March. They will sell out fast! See

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brouwerij Rodenbach-new US importer and photos

The first of the 24 breweries I visited in Belgium in May and June was the incomparable Rodenbach.
Rodenbach is a complex of many old historic buildings, such as a malting kiln from 1864 and a several stories tall brewery of the same age. There are also impressive new things, including a brewhouse from 2001 and a great visitor's center.

It's a world class place, and one of Belgium's national treasures.

I have a 1600 word article on the brewery coming out in the August issue of Celebrator Beer News.

Photos are here:

Latis Imports has just secured the USA import rights for the Rodenbach family of beers. It will be great to have these beers easily available again here!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The big move to Baltimore

I know it's been a looong time since I posted here, however I have been incredibly busy moving to Beery Baltimore. I've always wanted to live in a great beer city, and I'm here now. It was a long and painful move. It was very much worth it, though: with places like Brewer's Art and Max's nearby, it's hard to go wrong.

I have a big feature article coming out soon on Brouwerij Rodenbach, as well as an article on SAVOR in DC. Plus, there's more.

I've also uploaded many more photos to my Flickr site-3,500 so far, mostly from my many trips to Belgium.

More later. Time to unpack some more boxes.....


Chuck C.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Belgium, trip 17: a short report

I returned Wednesday from my 17th trip to Belgium, a 15 day tour in both Flanders and Wallonia. I visited 24 breweries (11 in Flanders, 12 Wallonia, one in Brussels) and many, many cafes, and one excellent beer fest.
I'll be posting much more in detail as the jet lag subsides and I download photos.

I visited the following breweries in Flanders:

Brouwerij Strubbe in Ichtegem
Brouwerij Rodenbach in Roeselaere
Brouwerij Contreras in Gavere-Aspere
Brouwerij Malheur/De Landtsheer in Buggenhout, a second visit
Brouwerij Affligem in Opwijk
Brouwerij de Brouwkot in Gullegem
Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen in Beersel for a second visit
Brouwerik Kerkom in Sint-Truiden for a second visit
Brouwerij Duvel in Breendonk/Puurs for a second visit
Brouwerij De Block in Merchtem-Peizegem
Brouwerij Palm in Steenhuffel

in Wallonia:

Brasserie Silenrieux in Silenrieux
Brasserie Caracole in Falmignoul
Brasserie St-Monon in Ambly
Brasserie Rochefort/Abbaye Notre Dame de St-Remy, for a third visit
Brasserie St-Helene in Ethe-Virton
Brasserie Millevertus in Toernich
Brasserie Brunehaut in Brunehaut
Brasserie La Frasnoise in Frasnes-lez-Buissenal
Brasserie Silly in Silly
Brasserie Authentique in Blaton
Brasserie La Binchoise in Binche
Brasserie Val de Sambre/Abbaye de Aulne in Gozée

Brussels: Brasserie Cantillon, for a 5th or 6th visit.....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

't Brugs Beertje is 25 years old today!

One of Belgium's-and the world's-best-loved beer cafes is 25 years old today.
't Brugs Beertje ("Brugge's Little Bear") first opened on Friday, May 13, 1983.
I interviewed owner Daisy Claeys about the history of her cafe in 2002, and have written several articles about the Little Bear in beer publications like Ale Street News and Celebrator Beer News.
So famous is 't Brugs Beertje that it is mentioned in virtually every guidebook to the beautiful medieval city of Brugge (Bruges.)
I will visit the Little Bear again on Tuesday May 20, during my 17th trip to Belgium.

Monday, April 7, 2008

New Belgian articles....Celebrator and Ale Street News

Well, it's been a while since I posted here. I have been very busy with my taxes, and also have been occupied with adding photos to my Flickr site. I now have uploaded over 2,000 images from 38 of the 60 Belgian breweries I have visited, as well as many from beer fests and beer cafes. More are on the way as time permits.

Here are the photos, organized in sets:

I have three new Belgian beer articles out this month (April/May issues.) Two are In Celebrator Beer News. The first is a feature, "Brouwerij Liefmans of Oudenaarde" about Liefmans. Since the article went to press, it appears more and more likely that Duvel Moortgat will indeed take control of Liefmans for the long term.

My other feature is about the famous beer cafe, 't Brugs Beertje ("Brugge's Little Bear") in Bruges, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Tuesday, May 13. The Little Bear is one of the world's great drinking establishments, with expert service from owner Daisy Claeys and her well trained staff. This classic Belgian "brown" cafe also has a very friendly atmosphere.

In Ale Street News, I cover a number of subjects in my Belgian news column, "Belgian Babble."
Included are info about cafe 't Brugs Beertje; Belgian breweries Liefmans, De Graal, Nieuwhuys, and Het Anker; as well as stateside breweries Clipper City and Russian River, and Max's 24 Hours of Belgian beer fest in Baltimore.

Today is the 75th Anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition in the USA, and I think I'll celebrate with a hoppy American IPA!


Friday, March 14, 2008

Ale Street News and Belgium

I have been writing for U.S.A. “brewspaper” Ale Street News for several years. ASN has a circulation of 90,000 copies every issue, six times a year. Ale Street is based in the New York City area, and has regional and International coverage on a variety of beery subjects.
Editor Tony Forder leads a group of stalwart beer lovers to Belgium every year, for a tour based around the Zythos beer fest in early March. Hence, the February/March issue is always a special one, with lots of Belgian coverage.

Tony and co-editor Jack Babin also organize a very special beer tasting event in Manhattan every year in the Spring. I attended the first “Ultimate Belgian Tasting” in 2006, and had a great time! I recommend this event.

The next “UBT” will be held Thursday April 10. Here is more info:

I wrote a two part story on the Belgian Trappist Abbey breweries in 2005-2006, which are on-line here:

I have also written about beer cafes and breweries in Brugge and Brussels, small Belgian breweries, the Zythos Beer Fest, and more.

I am happy to say that Tony asked me to start writing a Belgian news column, called Belgian Babble, for every issue of ASN, beginning with the February/March 2008 edition.
I wrote about Brouwerij Liefmans, the OBER Christmas beer fest, Chez Moeder Lambic, Cantillon and Brasserie de la Senne in this issue.

I also have a feature on Amsterdam’s breweries and cafes, on-line here:

I will cover an even greater range of Belgian and Belgian-inspired breweries and cafes in the April/May issue.

Kudos to Tony Forder and the Ale Street News team for their appreciation and promotion of Belgium’s artisanal beers and beer culture, and Belgian-inspired brews, breweries and beer bars in the USA and elsewhere.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Beers of the World Magazine and Belgium

Beers of the World magazine is the premier beer publication in the United Kingdom. Since its first issue in September/October 2005, Beers of the World has been on the forefront of promoting beers from, as its title suggests, all over the world-to a discerning audience of beer lovers.
In issue 1, there was an article about Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels. While I did not write the article, four of the five photos used with it were ones I took on a 2003 visit to the brewery.
Fast forward to Spring 2007 with issue 11, and Editor Sally Toms published an article I wrote about the famous Bierhuis Kulminator in Antwerp-perhaps the most famous beer cafe in the world-especially in regards to aged beers.
The first part of the article is on-line here:

Sally also asked I have a look at beery Brussels, the capitol of Belgium and the E.U.
I relished the chance to cover all my favorite beery spots in Brussels, and the article
"The heart of Europe: Charles D. Cook discovers the beers and bars of the Belgian capital" was published in issue 14.
See the first part of the article here:

I also suggested to Sally that an article on Belgium's female brewmasters might be of interest, as some very fine brews are crafted at Brasserie de l' Abbaye de Rocs in Montignies-sur-Roc; Brouwerij De Ryck in Herzele; Brouwerij 't Gaverhopke in Stasegem; and Brouwerij Urthel. Fortunately she agreed, and "The Beer Women of Belgium" was published in issue 15.

The beginning of the article is here:

I was even more pleased when Sally, who has a very light editing touch (the best kind!) asked if I could do a feature on Belgian brewing. I happily agreed, and the current issue, #16, has my 1650 word article, in which I write about 35 Belgian breweries. There is also a sidebar about ten great Belgian beer festivals, and quite a few photos.
Here is the start of the article:

While published in the U.K., Beers of the World magazine can often be found in Barnes and Noble stores in larger U.S. cities, as well as bookstores with a good selection of International magazines.

I should also point out that there have been many other articles on the subject of Belgium and beer written by other authors for BOTW.

Thanks to Sally Toms and the Beers of the World team for giving Belgium such fine exposure.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Celebrator Beer News and Belgium

I have had the privilege of writing for Celebrator Beer News since the October, 2002 issue. Celebrator is a beer newspaper, or “brewspaper” as it is called by those in the beer world. Celebrator and Editor Tom Dalldorf have published 66 of my articles, with 42 of them being on my favorite subject, beery Belgium. Tom really appreciates Belgium and its beer culture, and it shows with the extensive coverage of “The Beer Country” in Celebrator! I’m far from the only writer covering Belgium for the publication, either!
Celebrator Beer News ( is based in the San Francisco area, and has a circulation of 55,000 copies every other month (February, April, June, August, October, and December.)
My newest articles, in the February/March issue, are about the Christmas Beer Festival in Belgium, “Belgium’s Kerstbierfest 2007” and “Brouwerij Verhaeghe of Vichte: Home of the Duchesse.”
From the December 2007, issue, here are links to my articles about Brouwerij St. Bernardus and De Struise, and the Beeradvocate Belgian Beer Fest in Boston last October.

Max's 4th Belgian fest a great success

This past Friday and Saturday, I attended the 4th Annual Belgian Beerfest at Max's Taphouse in Fell's Point, Baltimore, Maryland. I have been to all four fests, and can say this was the best so far.
General Manager Casey Hard and the Max's crew once again ran a great beer fest, with one of the best selections of Belgian and Belgian-inspired brews on this side of the Atlantic. Nearly 100 different drafts were pouring over the course of the three day event.
Draft standouts included Alvinne Tripel; Brewer's Art Special Proletary on cask; Cantillon Bruocsella and St. Lamvinus; De Glazen Toren Angelique, Ondineke, and Saison de Erpe-Mere; De Proef Grande Blanche, Signature Ale and Zoetzuur; De Regenboog BBBourgondier, Fiori, Plus, and Speciale; Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux; Fantome Brise-BonBons, Chocolate, and Printemps; Kerkom Bink Bloesem and Bink Blonde; La Rullés Cuvée Meilleurs Voeux; Liefmans Goudenband; Ommegang Saison de Gewurz; Oud Beersel Framboise and Oude Lambic; Rodenbach Grand Cru; Strubbe Doebel and Keyte Double Tripel. There were also other new kegs put on tap the Sunday, but alas, I had to head home.
Delicious foods were also offered: I really enjoyed the Buffalo Burger, served with Chimay cheese and Belgian endive, as well as the Trappist burger, with Chimay Grand Reserve cheese, marinated in Westmalle Dubbel. Pomme Frites, those fine Belgian fries, were served and really hit the spot as well. The cheese plate with several Belgian specialties was also a good one.
The bottled standouts included Les Trois Fourquets Lupulus, among 120 other great brews. Too many to list!
The word about Max's fest has really gotten around, as the downstairs bar and tables were already full by 11:45 am Friday morning, and even earlier on Saturday. There was a line out the door to get in all Saturday afternoon-good thing I got there before 11 am! See you next year at Max's!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Brouwerij Liefmans of Oudenaarde

I toured Brouwerij Liefmans in Oudenaarde on Friday, December 14. Production manager Filip Devolder gave a fine tour, showing me, Carl Kins and Mark Smith the wole historic complex. Photos are here:

I wrote about Liefmans in my new column in Ale Street News, "Belgian Babble." I'll be continuing to write about newsworthy items related to Belgian and Belgian-inspired beery subjects in future columns.
One week to the day after my tour, a Belgian court declared the brewery bankrupt. However, Duvel-Moortgat has made a bid to buy some of the assets of Liefmans-assumedly including the historic Oudenaarde brewery. The fate of Brouwerij Liefmans is uncertain at this time, but we can all hope it will survive, and even flourish, in the future.
I will be writing additional stories about Liefmans in future publications.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Beery on-line articles

Here are links to some of my articles. More are on the way!

Several articles about aged Belgian brews at the famous Bierhuis
Kulminator, Antwerp:

Belgian breweries, city guides and more:

Belgian beer festivals:


Several about the Trappist breweries:

Trappist cafes:

Belgian beer events in the U.S. :

Beer Touring in Germany:

Lupulin Slam II:

Milwaukee Beer Fest:

The 2005 National Homebrewer's Conference:

Spoetzl Brewmaster's Retirement:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Westmalle Abbey and brewery

On my recent trip to Belgium in December, 2007, I made a third visit to Brouwerij Westmalle, at Abdij der Trappisten van Westmalle, about 22 km from Antwerp. I also visited the brewery in 2002 and 2004, and sat in on the Vespers service in the Abbey in 2002.
They have been brewing beer there since 1836, and the Tripel is the benchmark of the style. The monk's Extra and the Dubbel are great brews as well.
It was a very cold day, but we had a warm greeting from brewmaster Jan Adriaensens, who has been with the brewery many years. Many thanks to Jan for such a great visit, and to my friend Danny Van Tricht for driving. I have uploaded some photos to my photo site:
The Cafe Trappisten, located across the street, is being replaced by a new cafe sometime this summer. Construction of the new building was going on during our visit. The present cafe is very atmospheric, and has many of the brewery's products, such as a delicious cheese. We had a fine dish of Spaghetti Bolannaise, accompanied by a "trip-trap", which is a 50/50 mix of the Dubbel on draft and Tripel in bottles. What a great lunch!
For those traveling in Belgium without a car, I have good news: there is a bus from Antwerp that stops right in front of the cafe. It takes about 45 minutes, depending on traffic. So my advice is to get to the Cafe Trappisten and enjoy the brews and food!
The Westmalle beers are imported stateside by the fine folks at Merchant du Vin. See:

A little more about me, and Belgian beer....

As this is my first blog and I don't have a website yet, a lot of people don't know much about me. Here is some more info about how I started writing about Belgian beer.
After many visits (starting in 1996) to the famous Bierhuis Kulminator in Antwerp, I wondered about the history of the classic beer bar. I had never read or heard of any detailed articles about Kulminator. While in Antwerp, on a December 2001 trip, I asked owners Dirk Van Dyck and Leen Boudewijn for an interview. They agreed, and the interview became the subject of a 4,000 word article in All About Beer magazine in its July 2002 issue (which actually was published in late April.)

The article is on-line here:

I also had an article on the Trappist breweries in the May, 2004 issue, which is unfortunately not on the Internet.

I met Tom Dalldorf, Editor and Publisher of Celebrator Beer News, at the Portland International Beer Fest in July, 2002, and began writing for Celebrator a few months later. One of my first articles was about The Brewer's Art in Baltimore.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Max's Belgian beer fest

Baltimore is a great beer town. My uncle lived in the city for about ten years, and I made it a point to visit as often as possible, and partake of Charm City's fine beer scene. While a few brewpubs have closed in the last several years, Baltimore remains an excellent beer destination, with places like The Brewer's Art in Mount Vernon, The Wharf Rat brewpub (Oliver's beers) near Camden Yards, Mahaffey's in Canton, and Maryland's best beer bar, Max's Taphouse in Fell's Point.
General Manager Casey Hard has a spectacular lineup of Belgian beers for Max's fourth annual Belgian fest next weekend (I have been to all three so far!) February 15-17. I'll be there Friday and Saturday, getting in as much "research" as possible.
I also hope to make it over to The Brewer's Art, a great brewpub/restaurant that produces some excellent Belgian-inspired brews. Owner Volker Stewart has a fine brew crew.

Here's the list of beers for the fest next weekend.

On this side of the Atlantic, it doesn't get much better than this!!


Date: Feb 15-17, 2008
Time:11am-2 Am each day
cash bar-sample sizes available
Over 180 Belgian Beers in Bottles
Full Belgian Inspired Food Menu Available

Please Note:Max's is now Non-Smoking.

Alright here it is, a full and Final Belgian Fest Draft list>

Silly Abbaye De Forest Ale
Alvinne Blonde
Alvinne Dertig
Alvinne Gaspar
Alvinne Podge Imperial Stout
Alvinne Triple
Bel Pils
Blanche De Brussels
Boon Oude Lambic Marriage Parfait 17B
Boon Oude Lambic Marriage Parfait 52
Brewers Art Speciale Resurrection(Cask)
Brewers Art La Petroleuse (Cask)
Brewers Art Speciale Proletary(Cask)
Brewers Art Ozzy (Cask)
Brewers Art Resurrection
Cantillon Bruocella 1900 Grand Cru
Cantillon Gueuze
Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek
Cantillon St Lamvinus
Cantillon Vigneronne
Chimay Cinq Cents
Corsendonk Christmas
De Dolle Dulle Teve
De Dolle Stille Nacht
De Glazen Toren Canaster
De Glazen Toren Jan De Lichte
De Glazen Toren Angelique
De Glazen Toren Saison De Epre Mere
De Glazen Toren Onedinke
De Proef La Grande Blanche
De Proef Signature Ale
De Proef Zoetzuur Flemish Ale
De Regenboog BBBourgondier
De Regenboog Catherine The Great
De Regenboog Plus
De Regenboog T'Smisje Dubbel
De Regenboog T'Smisje Fiori
De Regenboog T'Smsije Kerst
De Regenboog T'Smsioje Speciale
De Regenboog T'Smisje Sleedorn
De Regenboog Vuuve
De Regenboog Wostijnte
Delirium Tremens
Dubuisson Scaldis Noel
Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux
Fantome Brise Bon Bons
Fantome Chocolat
Fantome Printemps
Fantome Saison
Kerkom Bink Blonde
Kerkom Bink Blosem
Kerkom Bink Bruin
Lindemans Framboise
La Rulles Meilleurs Voeux
Leifmans Goudenband
Les 3 Fourquett Wheat
Mardesous 6
Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence
Ommegang Hennepin
Ommegang Ommegeddon
Ommegang Witte
Ommegang Three Philosophers
Ommegang Rare Vos
Ommegang Saison De Gewurz
Oude Beersel Framboise
Oude Beersel Oud Lambic
Rodenbach Red
Rodenbach Grand Cru
Slaapmustke Triple Night Cap
St Bernardus Pater 6
Slaghmylder Witkap Pater Triple
Stone Vertical Epic 2007
Strubbe Doebel
Strubbe Keyte Double Triple
Van Honsebrouck Brigand
Van honebrouck Kasteel Rouge

I will also have about 30 extra Belgian Drafts to add when some of these beers kick. Cheers
for any other info please contact me

beers may be subject to change, due to shipping or events uncontrollable by Max's.

Casey Hard
Max's taphouse