A Review of 'Bij de Brouwer' by Erik Verdonck
Author: Johan "Wanne" Madalijns / Published: 2013-04-22 09:41:18 +0200 / Last Updated: over 1 year ago
ANTWERP - Erik Verdonck likes a good story. From time to time, our paths cross in brilliant Burgundian Belgium, with its rich beer heritage. Erik is madly keen on the huge range of regional products you can enjoy in our country, although they are not always easy to find.
Erik’s previous works include 'My Chouffe Story', ‘De Smaak van de Keyser’, ‘Lekker Waals’, and ‘Proef Antwerpen’. He has now added to this list with ‘Bij de brouwer’ which will be presented at the Zythos beer festival in Leuven this weekend.
Erik set off on a journey, accompanied by yours truly and others, to collect the stories told by brewers from small and large breweries alike. He seeks out buzzing beer cafés, restaurants experimenting with beer, beer museums.... All of these are mentioned - in words and pictures – in this laudable initiative.
A Beer Odyssey
The book’s preface ‘Als alle glazen spreken’ (if glasses could talk) was also written by the author. ‘Bier in België’ is a brief summary of Belgium’s beer history and is a captivating start. How did the national beer map benefit from a German customer making phone calls? How many people were employed by Belgian breweries in 2011? This book manages to provide clear answers to these questions and many more.
You will find out about the brewing process and ingredients, Belgian beer styles, how to use beer in the kitchen and the best way to taste Belgium’s best-known export.
I read on with a good glass of beer in hand, as this is where the book’s scarlet thread starts to unwind. Province by province, with a handy map guiding your journey, you start reading the stories that Erik managed to record during his travels.
Visiting brewing kettles hidden behind abbey walls, in castles, farms, cafés, garages or small obscure kitchens, including both large-scale operations and charming micro-breweries.
Erik Verdonck’s beer odyssey took him to 150 brewers and just as many stories. From the 'Ambachtelijke Microbrouwerij Kortrijk Dutsel' to Brasserie Jupiler in Jupille. Not only will you learn the background story of each brewery, you will also get an overview of their beers and plenty of practical visitors’ information.
Beer Trivia and Beyond
Surprises come thick and fast as I read on. Did you know that the Dochter van de Korenaar brewery used to be a museum of magic tricks? That “Hopperd” is the old Dutch name for hopped wort? That in the grounds of Paria Daiza you will find the ruins of a Benedictine abbey? That brasserie Ecausinnes developed no fewer than seventeen ‘medicinal beers’? That Wolf 8 beer makes a surprisingly good Irish coffee?
Or that in Anthisnes you can visit the Musée de la Bière et du Péket? It is obvious to the reader that Erik spent time and effort, not only to collect the stories from the brewers but also to listen to the man in the street.
The chapter on each province concludes with a handy list of cafés with a real buzz, restaurants full of ambiance, cycling and walking routes, brewery museums, beer shops and other tourist information. A short bibliography and recommended website links are found at the back of the book.
'Bij de brouwer' is a handsome volume, clearly laid out, full of beautiful pictures and interesting facts. It is well written and an easy read as well as a very useful guide to anyone who wants to plan a Belgian beer journey of their own.
This handy beer guide merits its place on every beer lover’s bookshelf! An English version will follow in due course.
At the Brewer’s (Bij de brouwer)
One hundred and fifty stories told by beer masters from across the Belgian beer landscape.
Recent Blog Posts
VLEZENBEEK/DILBEEK - It is often said that lambics are only for those with an experienced palate. At Brouwerij Lindemans, one of Belgium’s favourite brewers of this traditional style, they beg to diff ... [ read more ]
KORTRIJK/BELLEGEM - It was in 1892 that Brouwerij Omer Vander Ghinste opened for business in Bellegem, a village near Kortrijk in West Flanders, close to the French border. Since then, ... [ read more ]
RONGY - In Rongy and all around it, spring is in the air. The fruit trees are in bloom and nature has put on its most beautiful face. I’m on my way to Brasserie de Brunehaut, a brewery surrounded by o ... [ read more ]
WESTMALLE - If you order a Westmalle you’re likely to be served with a Tripel. This is no coincidence as this strong blonde Trappist beer now accounts for 75% of the beer output of this abbey brewery. ... [ read more ]
TONGEREN - After a fifty-year wait the moment has finally arrived. Once again, the city of Tongeren can boast its own brewery and city beers. The story commences with the 2009 ... [ read more ]
You must be logged in to leave a comment
Beer author Christian Deglas has said it before: “wine drinkers look into their glass, beer drinkers look at each other”. Playing dice or cards is far more enjoyable with a pint on the side, something that has not change... [ more ]
Take an unbranded glass and taste a blond, an amber, a bruin or a rood. I’d like to know if you can guess the beer and the brewery every single time. This gets even harder if the test comprises some lesser known or hard ... [ more ]
What is Belgian beer without a café in which to enjoy it? For as long as anyone can recall the two have been inseparable. Throughout Belgium you will find cafés in every size, shape and colour an... [ more ]
SCHOTEN - All these endless lists… you know where I’m coming from. All those things you want to do, or stop doing, before you blow out any more candles on your birthday cake. All those beers you want to try; all those br... [ more ]
What could be better than a café that brews its own beer? Somewhere where you can see the brewer feeding the kettle right in front of you. Where you can witness the miracle, clouded by steam, th... [ more ]
Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup
Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.