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A weekend of Belgian beer in Brussels


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Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2015-09-09 10:03:18 +0200 / Last Updated: about 1 year ago

Dominique Friart, St Feuillien Dominique Friart (centre), owner of Brasserie St-Feuillien
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BRUSSELS - The first weekend in September is highlighted in the diaries of many beer lovers, who head to the Grand Place in Brussels to find that great public space converted into one giant bar. Belgian Beer Weekend 2015 Small glasses, big smiles
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It is the centrepiece of the Belgian Beer Weekend, an initiative of the National Brewing Federation, the Belgian Brewers for short.

This organisation now counts around 100 breweries as members, accounting between them for over 90% of the beer brewed this beer-obsessed country.

This year’s Belgian Beer Weekend was the 17th. Forty-four breweries took part, serving up over 400 beers for tasting.

The Grand Place in Brussels is transformed, as the people unite around their love of a good glass of beer.

‘Between pot and pint’, as they say in Belgium, a huge variety of languages can be heard.

Beer loosens the tongue, and many new friendships are made at the bar. Amid the crowds, members of one confrérie (brotherhood) promote their beloved St-Feuillien, while nearby L’Ordre du Faro preach the virtues of this traditional Brussels lambic beer. The message is simple: enjoy this opportunity to dive deep into Belgian beer. Belgian Beer Weekend 2015 Crowded tables
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This is a brewers’ party and they take advantage of the occasion to introduce their latest creations.

They come out from behind their kettles, desperate to know how their new IPA/barrel-aged scotch/lambic/tripel or Trappist is going down with the public.

The drinker has a lot of choices to consider before making a decision. The connoisseurs might like to search out an exclusive brew or some extreme flavour, whereas your average beer lover tends to stick to the tried and trusted.

However, at the Belgian Beer Weekend, even he may veer off the well-trodden path, tempted by a stallholder who knows how to promote his wares or rumours about an exciting new beer.


All part of the ceremony All part of the ceremony
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A World Brand

Belgian beer is now an established international success story. On average, 62% of the production of Belgium’s breweries is exported. Belgian beer has grown into a world brand. Ask what A historical backdrop A historical backdrop
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our country is famous for and the answer will invariably be, beer.

The Belgian Beer Weekend also has a passport these days, following the beer trail as far as Japan. There, the festival has attracted 200,000 visitors to events in a number of cities.

Back home, Belgian brewers are building for the future. The industry today employs 4,500 people, and ten times more than that indirectly.

There are 168 (recognised) breweries producing over 1,000 beer brands. In 2014 Belgian breweries made investments to the tune of €180 million, and were worth €2 billion to the economy of this small country.

Such a flourishing sector of the economy merits a splendid visiting card, perhaps even its own palace. That’s on its way.

The Belgian Beer Palace is taking shape underneath the scaffolding at the former Brussels Stock Exchange just a stone’s throw from the Grand Place. This beer experience centre will open its doors in 2019.

But as part of this year’s Belgian Beer Weekend, the ‘loungy’ Apero Bar at the rear of this majestic building offered a small taste of what awaits inside. Groups of friends exuberantly shared large bottles, assisted in their choice by a beer sommelier.


Enjoying the beers of Brouwerij Roman Enjoying the beers of Brouwerij Roman
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Knights in Hoppy Armor

Among all this change centuries old traditions still have a place: the Belgian Brewers are the heirs of the powerful brewing guild that was formed in the 14th century. It is no coincidence that the Federation’s Belgian Beer Weekend 2015 Wielding the mash staff
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home is the historic Brewer’s House (1698) in the Grand Place in Brussels.

And the Knights of the Mash Staff, as some of the members are called, is a reminder of this cast-iron tradition. The knights represent the honour and reputation of the brewing trade.

The Belgian Beer Weekend traditionally opens with the blessing of the beer in the Cathedral of St. Gudula, followed by the solemn enthronement of the new Knights of the Mash Staff in an ornate function room at Brussels’ Town Hall.

Who can be awarded this honorary title? Those who have shown exceptional merit in advancing the brewing trade or who can be ambassadors for Belgian Brewers.

For example, exporters and distributors of Belgian beers, beer sommeliers, chefs, scientists, café owners, media personalities, politicians, authors...

This year, among the new knights were Yvan Mayeur, the Mayor of Brussels, the Japanese Ambassador and Jeff and Roy More, owners of Ashley's restaurants in Michigan and organisers of Ashley's Belgian Beer Festival. Their hearts are all beating for ‘beer from here’.


No limit for the ‘Confrères de St-Feuillien’ (brotherhood of St-Feuillien beer lovers) No limit for the ‘Confrères de St-Feuillien’ (brotherhood of St-Feuillien beer lovers)
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Brewed by gnomes.. You’re joking? "Brewed by gnomes.. You’re joking right?"
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We are from South Korea and we like the Pink Killer "We are from South Korea and we like the Pink Killer from Brasserie de Silly"
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Women and beer… Here pictured with a Bush Ambrée from Dubuisson Women and beer… Here pictured with a Bush Ambrée from Dubuisson
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Jef Cornelissen jr, owner of brewery Sint-Jozef, with their Pax Pils Jef Cornelissen jr, owner of brewery Sint-Jozef, with their Pax Pils
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When the Belgian Brewers throw a party... When the Belgian Brewers throw a party...
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Petrus Oudbruin, a classic Flemish red brown ‘sour ale’ Petrus Oudbruin, a classic Flemish red brown ‘sour ale’
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Ename Pater from Brouwerij Roman Ename Pater from Brouwerij Roman is a new, relatively light and hoppy abbey beer
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The ‘Ordre du Faro’, keen on Kriek, Faro and Gueuze The ‘Ordre du Faro’, keen on Kriek, Faro and Gueuze
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Brugse Zot Dubbel Brugse Zot Dubbel from Brouwerij De Halve Maan stand
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Featuring Kriekenbier at the Brussels Grand Place Featuring Kriekenbier at the Brussels Grand Place
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Always in for a Kasteel Donker Always in for a Kasteel Donker
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Organic, gluten free beer from Brasserie de Brunehaut Organic, gluten free beer from Brasserie de Brunehaut
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A Pauwel Kwak fan Enjoying the atmosphere, and his Pauwel Kwak by Bosteels
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All gathered at the heart of beer country Belgium All gathered at the heart of beer country Belgium
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Jef Versele (left), owner of brewery Van Steenberghe with a Gulden Draak ambassador Jef Versele (left), owner of brewery Van Steenberghe with a Gulden Draak ambassador
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The strong dark Ardenne Spirit Old Ale, new at Brasserie de Bastogne The strong dark Ardenne Spirit Old Ale, new from Brasserie de Bastogne
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Taking a sip from Arthur’s Legacy White Widow by Palm Belgian Craft Brewers Taking a sip from Arthur’s Legacy White Widow by Palm Belgian Craft Brewers
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Sharing is caring (when it's a big bottle of St-Feuillien Triple) Sharing is caring (when it's a big bottle of St-Feuillien Triple)
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Lindemans Cuvée René on the menu Lindemans Cuvée René on the menu
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Bush (Scaldis in the US) is an icon. The ‘Confrérie de la Bush’ is a brotherhood of Bush beer lovers, here promoting the Bush Blonde Bush (Scaldis in the US) is an icon. The ‘Confrérie de la Bush’ is a brotherhood of Bush beer lovers, here promoting the Bush Blonde
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What a place to taste a Saison Dupont What a place to taste a Saison Dupont
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A red IPA is exactly what I want "A red IPA is exactly what I want"
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VanderGhinste Oud Bruin is their choice VanderGhinste Oud Bruin is their choice
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Pink elephants and gnomes meet in Brussels Pink elephants and gnomes meet in Brussels
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Waterloo Blond and Timmermans Kriek Waterloo Blond and Timmermans Kriek
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Marco Passarella of Brouwerij Sint Bernardus Marco Passarella entertaining on the stand of Brouwerij Sint Bernardus
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Liefmans Goudenband joins the party at the Duvel Moortgat stand Liefmans Goudenband joins the party at the Duvel Moortgat stand
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Belgian beer as far as the eye can see Belgian beer as far as the eye can see
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Kriek and Gueuze. Yes, we’re in Brussels Kriek and Gueuze. Yes, we’re in Brussels
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