Thursday, April 30, 2009

Belgium, trip 19: the last day, plus highlights of the trip

I visited the Westmalle Trappist brewery for the fourth time on Tuesday the 28th, then had a fine meal at the new Cafe Trappisten.
Later I visited the Domus Huisbrouwerij in Leuven, and tasted the new honey beer created by Mark Knops. Mark is a busy man, as he also brews for Achel, De Haalve Maan, Malheur and other breweries. I enjoyed the new Domus brew, as the honey was not overdone. It's an enjoyable beer of 6.5% abv.

Many thanks to Gunther Bensch (who created the first Tripel Gueuze beer, Vicardin) for being "Bob" for a couple of days. Look for more info about Gunther and another new beer in future posts.

There were many great highlights of the trip, but I have to say that my several hour visit at Brouwerij Girardin was probably the top. Heidi and Paul Girardin were wonderful hosts, and it was a day I won't soon forget. Seeing the beautiful copper brewkettles, copper koelschip, mash tun and wooden casks where the superb Girardin beers, such as the Jonge and Oude Lambik and Gueuze Girardin 1882 are created, was fantastic. The whole brewery is a shrine to lambic beer, and another of Belgium's national treasures.
Due to their extreme rarity, photos from inside the brewery will only appear in my printed articles. None will be shown on the Internet.
A similarly long visit at De Proefbrouwerij, with Dirk Naudts as host, was also very memorable. It's amazing how many great beers De Proef makes, in so many different styles.
The brewery is very high-tech and very clean as well. More on De Proef in the future, such as about a certain collaboration beer with a highly-regarded midwestern brewery. Yum.



Monday, April 27, 2009

Trip 19 report...almost over

It's been a busy trip so far, with 15 brewery visits since Thursday.

I had first visits at Ter Dolen, De Sheldebrouwerij, De Dochter van de Korenaar, Jandrain-Jandranouille, De Vlier, Girardin, De Troch, Lindemans and De Proefbrouwerij.

Second visits at De Cam, Boon, Hanssens, and Timmermans...

third visits at Achel and La Trappe..

two more breweries tomorrow.

home to follow.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Off to Belgium, trip number 19

Well, sorry about the lack of posts lately. I've been very swamped getting ready for my 19th trip to Belgium, starting tomorrow. I'll re-visit two Trappist breweries (can you guess which one of them is??) attend the Vilvordia beer fest in Jette this coming Saturday, as well as the Toer de Geuze on Sunday. There also a little aged Trappist beer tasting on Friday.

I'll also visit 6 to 8 more breweries I have never been to before, and get back to the Kulminator in Antwerp.

The weather forecast claims clear weather through Saturday, but as it's Belgium, you never know.

More good news is on the horizon: it looks like I will be writing for 2 or 3 more beer magazines this year. More on that when I return....

Gezondheid and Sante,

Chuck Cook

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oud Beersel article in Celebrator Beer News

I have a 1,100 word article on the Oud Beersel lambic blendery
in the April/May issue of Celebrator Beer News.

I visited Oud Beersel last November 21st, with my friend
Danny Van Tricht. It was a cold day, but the Oud Beersel
brews soon warmed us!

Gert Christiaens and his father, Jos, took over the historic site a
few years ago. They purchased Oud Beersel from Henri Vandervelden.

Bureaucrats from the European Union forced Vandervelden to close
the brewery in 2002, due to new food and hygiene regulations that
are considered to be a vast waste of time and energy by brewers and
beer lovers in Belgium.

Seems that bureaucrats are the same all over, eh?

I hope that everyone enjoys the article! Hopefully Celebrator
will put the entire article on its website at some point.

Celebrator Beer News can be found at places like Max's on Broadway
in Baltimore, RFD and the Brickskeller in D.C., Monk's Cafe and
Nodding Head in Philadelphia, Sly Fox in the Philly area, and
Mug's Alehouse in Brooklyn, among other places on the East coast.

On the West coast, Celebrator is widely available at better beer bars,
brewpubs and beer stores. See

Photo: Father Jos and son Gert, inside a room filled with old
brewing tools and equipment

Photo: inside the barrel room at Oud Beersel. The lambic beer is HERE!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

HORAL's Oude Geuze Mega Blend: a first look

Photo: Yves Panneels

Here is a first look at HORAL's Oude Geuze Mega Blend. This beer
is a blend of young and old lambics from eight of the nine lambic
producers participating in the Toer de Geuze on Sunday April 26.
These are Boon, De Cam, De Troch, 3 Fonteinen, Hanssens,
Lindemans, Oud Beersel and Timmermans.

Brouwerij Mort Subite is open for Toer de Geuze, but did not give
any lambic for use with this special brew.

Yves Panneels, of the great lambic cafe In de Verzekering tegen de
Grote Dorst, in the village of Eizeringen, had this to say today
about the Mega Blend:

"The MegaBlend is a very promising gueuze. It evolves very
nicely in the bottle. When we tasted it at the last HORAL
meeting, all the brewers agreed that it is an excellent gueuze,
one that people will enjoy even more in a few years' time.
The bottles will all have the same front label, but the back label
will be different for each brewery because of tax reasons. All the
bottles will be numbered. This gueuze will undoubtedly become a
collector's item."

Oude Geuze Mega Blend can be tasted only at the participating
breweries and blenderies, as well as two of Belgium's great beer
cafes: the superb beer cuisine restaurant De Heeren van Liedekercke
in Denderleeuw, and In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst.