By coincidence I happened to be in Brussels at the end of last week – we had booked a short break. We stayed in a hotel near the Grand’ Place, and on arrival there on Wednesday, discovered that the Grand’ Place was being set up for the Belgian Beer Weekend:
Of course, we had to take advantage of this lucky coincidence, and set about finding out more about how it would work (in comparison, say, with the GBBF).
One important feature of Belgian beers is they should be served in unique glasses, and I wondered how this would be achieved at a beer festival, where one usually tries beers from more than one brewer. It turned out that you bought a ‘glass token’ for 3 Euros, and this would be used to get a glass for a particular brewery stand. If you wanted to move to another brewery stand, you had to return your glass and get a new token to use there. This seemed OK in theory. To pay for the beers you had to buy tokens, 10 for 10 Euros. The beers, typically served in 25 ml glasses, cost between 2-4 tokens (Euros). This seemed reasonable since in bars one was typically paying 4-5 Euros for 50 ml (and more for higher gravity beers).
So, how was the festival? Well, we were only there on Friday night, and by the time we arrived it was very busy. There wasn’t a lot of space inside the fenced off area in front of the beer tents, as you can see:
It was quite a challenge to get to a particular bar and get served, and the process of continually having to return your glass to get a token before moving on to another bar was difficult given the crowds. But we managed somehow, and tried 5 beers before the congestion got too much. Here’s a list:
Bon Secours Brune (Brasserie Caulier) 8% – a strong dark beer with chocolate notes.
Filou (Brouwerij van Honsebrouck) 8.5% – a classic Belgian triple with fruit notes
Gauloise 10 (Brasserie du Bocq) 10% – a heavy triple allegedly with banana notes.
Limburgse Witte (Brouwerij Sint-Jozef) 5% – a rather bland wheat beer
Overall it was an interesting experience, but the logistics of getting the beers, and the crowding slightly detracted from it all. The best beer I had during the visit wasn’t actually from this festival either. But I was glad to have had the opportunity to attend, if only for a short while.
Finally, here are a few more photographs from the festival. The first one shows the Silly bar, where Angela got her Pink Killer from (as well as an extra glass for her complimentary remarks!). The second is a panorama of the festival, and the third one confirms I was there!