Discover Belgian beer and food in Leuven.

Going for gold: Brussels Beer Challenge 2014

Email  •  Print

Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2014-11-02 20:40:11 +0100 / Last Updated: over 4 years ago

Brussels Beer Challenge 2014, Luc de Raedemaecker Organisers Luc De Raedemaecker (l) and Thomas Costenoble (r)

LEUVEN - As many as 79 Belgian breweries with 200 Belgian beers took part in the third edition of the international Brussels Beer Challenge. There was plenty of international Brussels Beer Challenge 2014 Let the pouring begin...
competition with entrants coming from 25 countries.

The USA was strongly represented with 177 beers. Other competitors worthy of note included Italy (110 beers), France (48 beers), the Netherlands (38 beers), Germany (35 beers), the UK (26 beers) and Spain (20 beers).

Many other countries were represented: Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Japan, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Malta and Monaco.

All in all, 725 beers were tasted by a jury comprising 60 beer experts including the renowned Tim Webb (UK) and Stephen Beaumont (USA). Interestingly, none of the jury members were brewers.

For the first time, the Brussels Beer Challenge was held in the Flemish city of Leuven, the birthplace of the world’s largest brewery, AB Inbev.

The competition was held in the splendid historic surroundings of the Stella-Artois brewing hall. Organiser Luc De Rademaeker states that the Brussels Beer Challenge is now the most important beer competition in Belgium. On an international level, the Challenge is on a part with the American-based World Beer Cup and the European Beer Star held in Germany.

“In 2012, when we launched the Brussels Beer Challenge at the request of the City of Brussels, we didn’t yet have an international beer competition staged in Belgium”, Luc De Rademaeker tells us. “Thomas Costenoble, my partner, has twenty years’ experience organizing international wine contests in Brussels and is in charge of organisation and logistics.

Brussels Beer Challenge 2014 Colour and Transparancy

High benchmarks

For the third edition of this competition, the beers were divided into eight main categories: Pale Ale, Dark Ale, Red Ale, Lager, Stout/Porter, Wheat, Flavoured beer, Specialty beer and as many as Brussels Beer Challenge 2014 All smiles
50 sub-categories: lambic, abbey beers, chocolate beers… “We’re setting a high benchmark”, Luc finds.

“If, within a particular category, no beer meets the criteria, then no medals will be awarded, or a bronze at the most”. Each year new sub-categories are added.

This year for example, the US-brewed Imperial White made an entry. Also, we have a separate ‘Specialty beer’ category for beers that do not fit into any of the existing beer styles.

The competition is open to any licenced commercial brewery, from micro to mega. The jurors give their verdict on the quality of the beers through blind tasting. All they know is the category of the numbered beer that is in front of them.

So, who are the members of the jury? Renowned beer experts, zythologues, authors and several newcomers; specialists, with an international reputation and who are known in media circles.

“It is great fun to be a jury member working in such an international environment”, feels Jef Van den Steen, a Belgian beer expert and author. “You notice, for example, that the Brazilians have a different attitude to froth on beer. In Belgium we will not accept a glass without froth, but in Brazil they go for frothless”.

Jef Van den Steen, Brussels Beer Challenge 2014 Jef Van den Steen (centre)

Back to the roots

What exactly is the appeal for foreign breweries taking part in the Brussels Beer Challenge? “Brewers from abroad consider it an honour to gain an award for a typically Belgian beer style such as Brussels Beer Challenge 2014 Checking "the nose"
saison or oude gueuze,” Luc De Rademaeker explains. “This is considered the ultimate honour and they like to make the most of it in their marketing”.

The jurors are invited to attend an extensive cultural programme that includes brewery visits, tastings and beer dinners. This allows them to discover that beer is very much alive in Belgium and also, how it fits into its gastronomy.

The jurors tell us that they have tasted ‘interesting’ beers; some that stand head and shoulders above the rest and occasionally, some that disappoint. What else would you expect with over seven hundred beers entered?

Behind the screens, the organisation is impeccable. All beers are chilled with the utmost care at the right temperature and are poured in a professional way. The beer is served by students of the international hotel school in Leuven. The Challenge provides them with useful experience as they have to work under the all-seeing gaze of top-ranked members of the beer world.

Tim Webb from Britain knows Belgian beer like the back of his hand. He recently published a beer guide and is an authority when it comes to lambic beers. “Many Belgian beers do not fit into a specific beer style”, he comments.

“This is a great illustration of the Belgian spirit with its individualism and anarchism that gave birth to this richly diverse Belgian beer culture. It explains your success when it comes to exports”. We’ll say cheers to that.

Brussels Beer Challenge 2014 The Jury

And the winners are...

This edition of the Brussels Beer Challenge proved that the Belgian brewers outperform in their traditional styles such as the sour ales, lambic and gueuze. The Oude Gueuze Brussels Beer Challenge 2014 Nicolas Soenen representing Duvel-Moortgat
Tilquin à l'Ancienne was awarded gold, BIIR 48 Oude gueuze by Montaigu-BIIR Brewer Association and Oude Gueuze Oud Beersel by Oud Beersel both won silver in this category.

The United States won a whopping 53 medals. This shows that the participating American brewers are very creative, innovative and versatile as their awards came in a variety of categories.

Belgium was awarded an impressive 43 medals, with Liefmans Goudenband, brewed by Liefmans, part of Duvel Moortgat, being awarded gold as well as being elected as the Best Belgian Beer.

This year's competition was a great success for Duvel Moortgat; gold for their Pale Seasonal Ale Chouffe Soleil and bronze for their Flavoured Fruit Beer Liefmans Kriek Brut.

Among the other medals for the Belgian brewers: gold for the Dark Ale Brugse Zot Dubbel by De Halve Maan, silver for the Strong Blonde Delirium Tremens by Huyghe, silver for the Flanders Red Ale Rodenbach Grand Cru by Rodenbach...

Finally, bronze medals were awarded to: Ename Blond by Roman, Rodenbach by Rodenbach, Steenbrugge Blond by Palm Belgian Craft Breweries and Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel by De Halve Maan.

The saison Surfine by Brasserie Dubuisson was awarded a special honour.

Leuven Blog Posts

Zythos 2018. Watch out… there’s some heritage about!
LEUVEN - 12,500 fans made their way to Leuven for what was already the 15th edition of the Zythos beer festival. Many fans travelled a long way to get to Belgium. They flocked here from many European ... [ read more ]
Good beer hunting at the 2016 Zythos Beer Festival
LEUVEN - Hordes of beer lovers are flowing towards Leuven. They come from all around Belgium and far beyond. ‘Zythos’ is an important event in the diary of every beer lover. ... [ read more ]
Great Belgian Beer Dinner 2015
LEUVEN - The Great Belgian Beer Dinner is an annual event for lovers of gastronomy and beer pairing. Last year’s edition was staged the tavern at City Brewery Gruut in Ghent. ... [ read more ]
Zythos Beer Festival 2015
LEUVEN - Big, bigger, biggest... with around 17.000 visitors, it feels like the eleventh Zythos beer festival in Leuven is about to burst at the seams. Once the festival is in full swing, it is imposs ... [ read more ]
Professor Jo Swinnen: Halfway between tradition and innovation
LEUVEN - Our passion for a good brew in the glass can make us forget that brewing beer is an important economic activity but Professor Jo Swinnen of Leuven University takes us back to reality. In his ... [ read more ]


You must be logged in to leave a comment



Crossing borders with the Brussels Beer Challenge

BRUSSELS - The Brussels Beer Challenge is gathering speed. Just three years from its inception, the third edition, held at the end of November 20... [ more ]

Luc De Raedemaeker - Beer is part of Belgian DNA

Luc De Raedemaeker is a respected and renowned Belgian beer sommelier. He also teaches, organises beer contests, including the internationally acclaimed Brussels Beer Challenge and is a Knight of the Brewers’ Mash Staff.... [ more ]

Leuven: the place to be(er)

LEUVEN - Wherever you are in Belgium, Leuven (or Louvain) is never more than a stone’s throw away. Whether you land at Brussels airport, come into Brussels Midi by train or you’re driving on the country’s road network,... [ more ]

Belgian brewers victorious in Brussels Beer Challenge

BRUSSELS - The second Brussels Beer Challenge was an unqualified success for Belgian brewers. Sixty-eight Belgian breweries took part and they submitted 139 samples for tasting. Belgium was rewarded with 66 medals (20 Go... [ more ]

Liefmans refreshes its brewery tour

OUDENAARDE - Not many breweries can claim a history that goes all the way back to 1679. Liefmans, known for its traditional Oudenaarde dark beers, can with some justification be called a beer monument. ... [ more ]


More Beer

The Delirium Tremens was born in 1988 at the request of an Italian client. This beer is an outsider. Its white bottle is reminiscent of Cologne pottery ware. On the label you wi... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

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