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