No.1 travel guide for Belgium; dedicated to Belgian beer and food culture.

Erik's Highlights: The stars of the brewing kettle


Email  •  Print

Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2013-09-12 06:44:34 +0200 / Last Updated: 10 months ago

Dochter van de Korenaar, Belgian Beer Dochter van de Korenaar
© BeerTourism.com


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 to find beers. De Verhuisbrouwerij, belgian brewers, beer in belgium, belgian beer De Verhuisbrouwerij
© BeerTourism.com
But today I’m not here to discuss quality. I’d rather see this as one of the side-effects of a lively and rich beer culture.

Some brewers have just started up and will take years to create their perfect beer; some will never really manage it. There are visionaries who put new beer styles on the map or add a Belgian touch to foreign beer types. There are also creative brewers who veer off the well-trodden paths and develop ‘bastard’ styles.

These don’t always work out but are often interesting. Then there are the gourmets who strive for a happy marriage between chocolate and beer or develop a herbal beer with an eye towards gastronomy.

Microbreweries are in a world all of their own. There’s plenty of freedom, especially for the very smallest ones, who don’t need to obey the strict laws of economics. “I don’t want to grow, brewing is my hobby, I want to follow my own path,” is what the microbrewers say.

They can stay small, unless and until the consumer has a different opinion, embraces the beer and the brewer feels obliged to come out of the shadows and enter the well-known growth spiral of investment, investment and... investment.

This is how the small players can grow big. Just take a look at Brasserie d’Achouffe, they started 30 years ago in a cattle barn and are now a player on the international stage.


3 fonteinen, geuze, gueuze, lambiek, lambic 3 Fonteinen
© BeerTourism.com


A Modest Attitude

The brewing virus strikes mercilessly. It is just like cooking. Chefs who have been called to the stove from a young age, always busily wielding their pots and pans, helping out left and right, doing a few bits on the side, Kriek 3 Fonteinen Kriek 3 Fonteinen
© BeerTourism.com
then get trained professionally and make it thanks to their talent and drive. In the same way, ambitions vary in the beer world.

Some are aiming for the premier league and achieve this status by conquering the export market. Look at the success of some geuzestekers – mixers of lambiek beers -, modest as it may be by some standards.

“American beer freaks consider me a rock star these days,” says Armand De Belder of 3 Fonteinen on television. He can see the humour in it: how to become the latest trend through talent, passion and years of tenacity.

Would he have imagined it in his wildest dreams? Just to remind ourselves: 30 years ago the trade of geuzesteker had almost vanished from the face of the Belgian earth.

Armand and a number of kindred spirits decided to continue the profession. These days, production of oude geuze can barely keep up with demand. © BeerTourism.com
Around 10 established Belgian geuzestekers keep the tradition alive while German, Japanese and American fans have all left their imprint.

Fashion also plays a part. Hops have made a comeback and sweet is not trending any more. Tomorrow, sour will be in. These fashions create a culture of copies, from a strong blond beer to IPA. Marketing efforts are translated into snazzy packaging or a retro look.

In some cases beer assumes the elegance of wine, marketed in a bottle fit for a table in one of the the better restaurants.

You may even find a few words of explanation on the beer menu. If you’re in luck you will find out who poured his or her heart and soul into that bottle.

Or you discover a brewer who is not very well known at home but a star abroad, or perhaps not, and you can start your own quest for the perfect beer for you. Cheers!


Recent Blog Posts

Belgian beer culture recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage
BRUSSELS - “We have won the World Cup!” exclaims Sven Gatz, Minister of Culture for Flanders. In his former role as Managing Director of the Federation of Belgian Brewers he immediately lent his ... [ read more ]
Chimay Grande Réserve Vieillie en Barriques 2016, a touch of wood
CHIMAY/COGNAC - Chimay Bleue stands out as a classic amongst Trappist beers. Nevertheless, its brewer continues to break new ground. The first ‘limited edition’ Chimay Grande Réserve Vieillie en Barri ... [ read more ]
Brussels Beer Challenge 2016: Belgium holds its own in the beer world
BRUSSELS - For the fifth running of the Brussels Beer Challenge the organisers selected a location steeped in history and prestige. After touring from Brussels to Liège, Leuven and Antwerp, ... [ read more ]
The Belgian Beer Book: Tapping into Belgian beer culture
BELGIUM - How do you write an unbiased review of a book that you yourself have written, pouring your entire soul into it? I’ll immediately give up on that impossible task and instead I’ll offer you a ... [ read more ]
Brouwerij Cornelissen, the tale and the taste
OPITTER - The locals would ask for “de bieren van Opitter” or “the beers from Opitter”, when they ordered a Pax Pils, Ops Ale or Sint-Gummarus. And if you popped into a café, you’d be in Jos’s or ... [ read more ]

Comments



SHARE:
 



BLOG

POSTS
De Struise Brouwers, brewing with attitude

OOSTVLETEREN - In 2008, a group of men from Woesten/Vleteren were voted the world’s best brewers by ratebeer.com. They have recently started offering tastings in an old school building located in the village of Vleteren.... [ more ]

Firing up the brewing kettle in the Gaume

THE GAUME - Deep in the South of Belgium, hidden amongst the pine forests, nestles the Orval Trappist abbey and brewery. This famed locale marks the s... [ more ]

A Hops Story, Brewery De Ranke

DOTTIGNIES - Brouwerij De Ranke is located in Dottignies, Wallonia. It produces robust beers with rich aromas and a pronounced taste of hops. The Rodenbach yeasts lend these beers an http://b... [ more ]

Rebelse_strop_225

More Beer

When, in the 16th century, the proud citizens of Ghent refused to bow their heads to the mighty Emperor Charles V, he decided to punish them for their stubbornness. He made the... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.

Name:
Email:
TWITTER
    FACEBOOK