A Review of 'Bij de Brouwer' by Erik Verdonck
Author: Johan "Wanne" Madalijns / Published: 2013-04-22 09:41:18 +0200 / Last Updated: almost 2 years 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
GENVAL - It’s 1909 when John Martin, a Brit, makes his home in Antwerp, earning his living by provisioning sailing vessels. Before long John’s deliveries are heading onto the ships of the Red Star Lin ... [ read more ]
NAMUR - At the 6th edition of the Brussels Beer Challenge, hosted this year by the city of Namur, Belgium once again lived up to its cast-iron reputation as one of the most important beer countries in ... [ read more ]
STEENHUFFEL - The annual hop harvest at Palm Belgian Craft Brewers is truly a festival of and for the people. We survey the busy crowds on the last Sunday in August in the hop field in the shadow of t ... [ read more ]
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 ]
You must be logged in to leave a comment
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 ]
A good story sells and your local pub is the ideal place to swap stories. The more the beer is flowing, the more the stories grow in the telling. That is how the Guinness Book Of Records was founded: ... [ more ]
‘What do you think is the best beer?’ You know this type of awkward question. In fact, it’s not really answerable as there is no such thing as the ‘best beer’. The wonderful thing about <a href... [ more ]
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 ]
BOKRIJK/HERKENRODE - On Sunday, 15th September Bokrijk Open Air Museum will host a special event at which you can discover everything edible and drinkable in the wild world of flora and fauna. You’ll witness demonstr... [ more ]
Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup
Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.