Beer Travels to Belgium & Holland

October 9th, 2010 posted by lori
Beer Travels to Belgium & Holland

Tyler and I set out on September 18th for a tour around Belgium to
some of our favorite breweries, beer stores, and beer establishments with a final destination in mind, the Borefts Beer Festival at Brouwerji De Molen, in Bodegraven Netherlands. In this newsletter I’ve written down some of the highlights to share with you. Everyday surpassed our highest expectations, so here it is, I hope you enjoy this months newsletter as much as I have writing it!

Sunday, September 19th / Day 1:
Brouwerji De Dolle Brouwers

We arrived to the brewery right before they were opening for the day and were greeted by a lovely older woman who had been scrubbing and cleaning inside the brewery on the second floor.  This woman turned out to be Kris Herteleer’s (the brewers) 93-year old mother who next lead us thru the brewery and gave perhaps one of the best tours I have ever received.  She spoke of how the beer kept her very healthy – the hops fought cancer, the natural yeasts made her body function well, and the grains gave her strength and energy, which means that beer is good for you, so drink up!.  After our tour, we were greeted by the brewer who was wearing a black coat spotted with the oerbier man, which he said he only wore on Sundays and  special occasions.  After a brief discussion, we headed to the cellar and began to taste a variety of Special Reserva Oerbier’s and Stille Nacht’s from the barrels.
Next, we headed to the tasting room to sample Arabier and Oerbier from the tap in addition to some vintage bottles, like Extra Export Stout 2008. Next we were asked if we like sour beer, which of course the answer was “yes!”. This then lead to sampling the only bottle of brett-infected 2008 Stille Nacht Reserva (750ml).  As the drinks flowed, Kris and I began to speak of another passion, art!  Kris is an artist and architect by week and brewer by the weekend.  After looking through his scrapbook, we even bought a print of an original watercolor he painted (to be framed soon) Now that we are home, I am trying to book an exhibit and beer tasting, so stay tuned! Kris and family may make it to Louisville one day!

Monday, September 20th / Day 2: Brugge, Belgium

Our second day in Brugge was beautiful, we drank beer on the canal, checked out numerous beer stores and enjoyed the company, knowledge, and enthusiasm of Tom Allewaert, the owner of Erasmus (perhaps one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in!).  Seriously, he knows it all! … we were happy to see him again in Bodegraven!
We visited many spots: 2be, Bier Tempel, Bottle Shop, ‘t Brugs Beertje, Cambrinus, Comptoir des Arts, ‘t Poatersgat… Some of the Beers enjoyed:Westvleteren 8, Boon Kriek (draft), Urthel Saisoneirre (draft), ‘t Smisje Smiske Nature Ale, Struise Pannepot Reserva 2008, Strusie Cuvee Delphine, Valier Extra, Horal’s Oude Gueuze Mega Blend, Boon 2005 Marriage Parfait, Vivan Porter, Vivan IPA……

Tuesday, September 21st / Day 3:
Picobrouwerji Alvinne & De Struise Brouwers

We headed straight to Alvinne to meet one of the brewers, Davy Spiessens.  It was a working day so we spent most of our time in the attic cellar, which had a beer store that made me quite envious.  They bring these beers in to sell, but most importantly, to stay inspired and aware of what others are brewing all over the world, which I feel is reflected in all the beers Alvinne makes. We were lucky enough to try the new and limited beers that haven’t made it to the US yet.  All of the beers use a new yeast strain, called Morpheus, and a majority of these beers were barrel-aged and/or sour. Yummy! Here is what we “tasted” – Alvinne Kerasus, Morpheus Wild, Mano Negra (oaked), Kerasus (Bourgogne Barrel-Aged), & Alvinne/Birdsong Nightowl. Click here for website.

Next, we headed to De Struise’s new brewery which is in an old schoolhouse and very lovely I may add!  We were welcomed by Urbain Cotteau, the brewer, who immediately began to taste some of the newest De Struise beers: Ignis & Vlam, Elliot Brew, Black Damnation IV Coffee Club, and Triple Eisbock…. yes, Triple Eisbock. Urbain has built a prototype eisbocking machine, that successfully attenuated the Black Albert to 39%.  It tasted heavenly and made me rethink this whole “eisbocking war” in a good way.  When done right, a 39% beer can taste very very fine!  Stayed in the lovely Poperinge, Belgium, where tons of hops are grown to make good beer!

Wednesday, September 22nd / Day 4:
De Ranke & Blaugies

After leaving Poperinge and checking out the half-harvested hop fields, we headed to De Ranke in Dottignies, right outside of Wevelgem.  There we meet Nino Bacelle, one of the brewers who very graciously took some time for a tour and tasting with us. The brewery was unlike most we had visited, it was as clean as a hospital and was very high-tech but still quite small.  Every part of the brewing process had been carefully considered in designing this system with the end-product in mind.  The brewery reminded me of the beers: clean, consistent, complex, and refined.  To no surprise, Nino is an engineer by day and brewer on the weekend.  We tasted the range of beers they had to offer, but most notably, Kriek de Ranke from the fermentation tank.

When you are at Blaugies, you are in a town of 50 people and if you want to, you can see France from where you stand.  The homes are beautiful, and there are still ruins dating back to the end of WWII.  But, there is nothing as beautiful as Alex-Pierre and his family-owned and operated brewery and restaurant.  The brewery fits within the garage of their impressive brick ceiling home and it is there that they make their saisons with 2 very important ingredients: water from their own well, and lots and lots of love!  Across the street is the restaurant which boasts an open fire pit grill and a menu that uses beer in almost every item.  We enjoyed the Pork Lard marinated in Moneuse and the Darbystre Beer Pate. Click here for more info.

Thursday, September 23rd / Day 5:
Brasserie Fantome

Dany Prignon and I have become friends via facebook over the past months, so it was very nice to finally meet the man behind the beers that we love to find, cellar, and enjoy with our friends.  The brewery is very small, and very charming.  I can imagine that it would be very fun to brew beer in such an environment.  While we were visiting, two Biological Schools visited and received tours from the brewer himself, which ended with a tasting…. wish I went to high school in Belgium!  We spoke to Dany about a mushroom saison he had made at one time and he told us that it was hard to get enough mushrooms.  Lucky for him, Tyler’s dad is a mushroom farmer and we have plenty to send him, or enough to make a batch of this legendary ale.  Cross your fingers, if all works out – we will certainly be getting some to share and taste together.  Long live Dany Prignon & Fantome!
Stayed in the gorgeous La Roche En Ardenne! and had cave-aged Orvals with a very nice dinner!

Friday & Saturday, September 24th & 25th
Day 6 & 7: Borefts Beer Festival
at Brouwerji De Molen, Bodegraven, Netherlands

Wow! i don’t even know where to begin, but I think it is safe to say that this is one of, if not the best, beer festival in the world.  Check it out for yourself, click here for a full listing of beers.  One of the very cool things about this festival was the Vuur & Vlam (Fire & Flame) contest.  Menno, the brewer of De Molen provided an IPA recipe for everyone to follow and then all of the guests had to vote for their favorite. In third place was De Molen, second place – Marble Brewery, and 1st place – Haandbryggeriet (which is who I voted for).  Congrats to all!  We are definitely going back next year! A new brewery to be included in 2011 is Brew Dog and perhaps one American Brewery 🙂  I hope next time that all of our new friends are there again too! Thank you Urbain, Davy, Tom, Menno, James, Heather, Kristina, Noah, and the Tom’s for a very nice time!

Sunday & Monday, September 26th & 27th
Day 7 & 8: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Yes, there is plenty of good beer in Amsterdam, not to mention good food, good museums, and good cafes!  If you visit, I highly recommend going to the De BierKoning.  This beer store has the most amazing selection I’ve ever seen and a super knowledgeable staff to match!  To grab a drink, you should check out Cafe In de Wildeman.  We visited here with our friends from Chicago (Kristina & Heather from West Lake View Liquors and Noah from Local Option).  Mighty fine beers were tasted such as: De Molen Rasputin & De Molen Amarillo. Also, visit Cafe ‘t Arendsnest, a beer bar with all Dutch Beers – there is lots more De Molen to try there too! The same owner opened, Beer Temple, and American Beer Bar, which we visited twice, but we opted for the Dutch and Belgian selection….. and of course, while you are there, enjoy many upon many cones of frites with the glorious sauce piled on top.

Tuesday, September 28th
Day 9: Brouwerij De Molen and Kulminator

This has to be one of the most unforgettable days of the trip. Thanks to Kristina, we decided to stop back by De Molen for lunch on our way from Amsterdam to Antwerp.  Not only did we have one of the best meals of the trip, but we got the tour of the De Molen brewery from owner and brewer himself, Menno Olivier, who was one of the most inspiring people I met on this trip.  He does it all, brewer of great beer, distributor, importer & exporter, not to mention world-class festival planner! During our time there, we tasted some rare beers from Menno’s collection, Lood & Oud IJzer (Blend Barrel-Aged of Amarillo and Rasputin) and Vlaams & Hollands (a Flemish Oud Bruin). Then, once it was discussed we were headed to Kulminator for a nice sitting of vertical tastings, Menno called Dirk at Kulminator and asked if he would like us to bring him some beer.  So there we were, on our way with cases of Rasputin, Cognac Barrel-Aged Machtig & Mooi, and Bommen & Granaten, to deliver to the Kulminator. Can you believe it? We got to deliver some of the Europe’s finest beers to the #2 beer bar in the world!!!!!!

Dirk sent us home with a mighty fine 6 pack, including a 2004 Westvleteren 12, 2003 Dulle Teve Special Reserva Calavados Edition, 2005 Stille Nacht.

Wednesday, September 29th
Day 10: Brussels

Brussels is definitely somewhere I’d like to go back to and spend some more time! There were just so many places to visit. Of what we did hit up, it was all excellent and thanks to our new friend & home brewer Tom Wuyt, we were able to go to all the best places.  Unfortunately Drie Fonteinen was closed on this day, but luckily Cantillon was open for tours and tastings.  My strong love and passion for this 110-year old brewery was left deepened in every way.  You can walk thru every inch of the working brewery and Sofie, the brewer Jean’s sister will give you a great start to the tour. Next you taste, which after having gueuze and kriek, we went for the Mamouche, a very unique and floral lambic made with elderflower blossoms. Folks, this is real Lambic! LINDEMANS IS NOT! Another great spot was Moeder Lambic, wow! 40 taps of nothing but superb beer! The food was great, the service was great and the place was beautiful. Can’t wait to go back!

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