In my recent post about the European Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference I mentioned that I had also booked a place on the pre-conference trip, and also the two-day post-conference trip. Details of both trips have now been made available, so I thought I’d share a few of the highlights with you.
The pre-conference excursion, which departs from central Brussels on Thursday, August 27th, has been arranged by the Belgian Family Brewers Association; a not for profit association of Belgian breweries which have been brewing beer for at least 50 years non-stop. There are currently 21 members representing 15% of Belgian brewers who, between them, amass a total of more than 3,500 years of tradition and experience in brewing.
According to the itinerary, the first stop is Diepensteyn castle; a once run-down castle which is now owned by the PALM Brewery and restored to its former historical splendour. It is situated close to the village of Steenhuffel. Hops will be the main subject of this visit and should serve as the first inspirational item on the tour which is described as helping attendees to learn about speciality Belgium beers.
The second stop is at Lindemans Brewery in in the hamlet of Vlezenbeek, in the heart of Pajottenland. . Head brewer, Peter Renders, will explain the centuries old tradition of spontaneous fermentation and its role in Belgian brewing. He will also talk about the role of FRUIT in the brewing process. “Peter Renders has been brewing lambic for 13 years. His father also worked at Lindemans, and during his 52-year career, he helped make the brewery into what it is today”
The third visit of the day takes EBBC delegates to the beautiful Dupont Brewery, where “MORE beer secrets will be shared with the blogging community.”
The final stop on this full day beer tour is at the Dubuisson Brewery, the oldest brewery in Wallonia. A discussion of the role of wood, and especially oak, in beer at Dubuisson will illustrate one of the more complex elements separating good, specialty beer from the rest…
|Maturation vats at Rodenbach|
|Hop fields at Poperinge|
The full itinerary for this two day beer adventure is as follows:
Transport to Poperinge
- Guided tour of the visitor center, “Hopmuseum Poperinge”
- A culinary “travel through the Westhoek” regional lunch at the Hopmuseum
- Brewery and hop growing tour + tasting with the brewer at De Plukker, a 100% organic production that started as a hop-growing business
- Walking tour of the area surrounding Abbey of Sint Sixtus + tasting of Westvleteren ‘In de Vrede’.
- Meet the brewer at Struise Brouwers for a visit + tasting of this innovative microbrewery
- Dinner at Rodenbach Brewery and a visit with Plant Manager, Rudi Ghekiere.
- Optional last beer of the night at Brugs Beertje
9:30 Meet in Reception to start the day
- Meet the brewer of Brewery Den Os for a very special preview tour of the still-being-constructed new Brewery Den Os brewery that produces the quintessential Bougogne des Flandres
- Historical Walking Tour of Bruges
- Visit Bruges Beer Museum in the heart of Bruges for an innovative approach to understanding the historical importance of beer + tasting
- Meet the brewer at Brewery De Leite for a vistiing + tasting in this newer microbrewery who’s founder, Luc Vermeersch, started his beer experiments in a small shed.
Like the pre-conference excursion, this overnight trip includes dining, transport, all visits and tastings, but also covers the cost of overnight lodging in Bruges. So what's not to like?
|The renowned, but rare, Westvleteren Trappist Beer|
Moderation will have to be the order of the day, but as most Belgian beers are notoriously strong; certainly by UK standards, and with such a wide variety being place in front of conference attendees, it will be extremely difficult not to succumb to temptation!
I have visited Brussels several times, and have also made two trips to Bruges, but despite this and the experience of 40 years seeking out and enjoying good and interesting beers, I feel that I have only scratched the surface of Belgium; despite it being a country renowned for its beers. The European Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference this August, plus the two excursions I have described above, should help redress the balance, and get me up to speed with this world famous brewing nation.