|Arriving at the venue in Leuven.|
Beer is one of the top things that come to mind when we talk about Belgium. I’ve met tourists that came here only for tasting the special Trappist beers.
Being from Brazil, I didn’t know many different kinds. I hadn’t learned to appreciate the tastes and textures. Our relationship with beer is more like “Let’s hit the bar and have a super cold one”. There are different brands, but they’re all pretty much the same.
And then I came to this beer paradise. And learned. And have yet much to learn. My friends try to teach me about how the beers are made, why it tastes like that, etc. Over my first year here I tried and loved my beers. And chose my favorites, of course.
However, only recently I went to my first – and second – beer festival! Woohoo! Can you imagine? A kid in a candy shop!
The first one was in Leuven, just outside town in a huge market hall. All the beer stands were inside and the food stands, outside. The first impression is the size of it all. Such a big place and so many stands you can’t possibly taste them all. When you enter you buy your chips and your glass. We bought 14 chips: I had 6 beers and Rob had 8. I was too overwhelmed to make my own choice, so I went with the flow and tried whatever they would choose for me.
It also impressed me how open it is. I saw young and old people, children, pregnant women (!), tourists, dogs, whole families, beer club people wearing matching T-shirts. It is indeed a cultural thing.
The list below was composed by Robrecht. They are all the beers we both tried that day. (I appreciate beer but I can’t describe them well).
- Shark Pants: nice hoppy double Indian pale ale (triple IPA) by de Struise Brouwers; (Rob's favorite)
- Hoppa hontas: as its name suggests, also an Indian pale ale. Hoppy and fresh by Brouwerij Maenhout;
- Jessenhofke: tasty brown organic beer by Brouwerij Jessenhofke; (Ana's favorite)
- Saison Dupont: nice fruity and spicy Saison-style beer from Brasserie Dupont;
- Turnhoutse Patriot: patriotistic Saison-style beer by de Scheldebrouwerij;
- Hof ten Dormaal barrel aged: very smooth and tasty beer, aged to perfection in old oak barrels. (A bit too sweet for me, Ana)
- Rio Reserva: nice quadruppel by de Struise Brouwers with a rich and complex palate;
- Framboise De Cam: a fine raspberry lambic by Geuzestekerij De Cam in Gooik. Tart, smooth and fruity;
- Schuppenaas: The ace of spades, rich and tasty amber beer by Brouwerij Het Nest;
- Kleveretien: The ten of clubs, black and strong beer by Brouwerij Het Nest;
- Brouwersverzet oud bruin: nice tart and fruity sour-red (oud bruin) style beer. Typical for this style of beers are the tastes of red fruit;
- Rebel local: rebellious Indian pale ale by Het Brouwersverzet.
The second festival was much smaller and cozy. We sat at a table and were served. We bought big bottles and shared among us four. We forgot to take notes, but I remember we had a very good Geuze, a raspberry beer, a cherry beer and the only one I didn’t like was made with prunes (it tasted like prune juice with too much water in it).
I look forward to the upcoming festivals - even the Toer de Geuze, where they rode their bikes all day going from brewery to brewery!
Drinking beer back home will never be the same…