Brussels Beer Challenge 2016: Belgium holds its own in the beer world
Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2016-11-21 11:51:47 +0100 / Last Updated: 11 months ago
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, the competition returned to the capital and set up home in one of the city’s most historic buildings, the former Stock Exchange.
Where traders once won and lost fortunes on shares, a jury of 80 beer experts spent three days deciding the fortunes of 1,250 beers from 36 countries.
The location for this quinquennial celebration has even more resonance, as the former stock exchange is being transformed into the Belgian Beer Palace, an experience centre celebrating the world of Belgian beer. The interactive attraction will open its doors in 2019.
Let’s zoom in on the competition results. Belgium accounted for a fifth of the beers entered, with a sixth of them coming from the USA. Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy were also well represented, and Japan, Hungary and Brazil made their presence felt too.
The list of awards shows a global success story, with winners from Belgium (41), the USA (45), Italy (28), Spain (7), Canada (5), the UK (2), France (8), the Netherlands (19), Malta (3), Poland (2), Germany (6), China (8), Japan (1) and Brazil (12).
“IPAs (India Pale Ales) remain hugely popular,” states beer sommelier Luc De Raedemaeker, Brussels Beer Challenge organiser.
“The winners for this originally English beer style now include Americans, the Dutch and Italians.”
Co-organiser and fellow sommelier Thomas Costenoble chips in: “And the Belgians remain loyal to the tripel with 61 entries for this beer style and a lot of medals won – including Bersalis, Affligem Tripel and Rangsken from Den Houten Molen.”
In recent years the international ‘craft scene’ has been bulging at the seams.
But, with 199 breweries, the host nation’s beer producers can still hold their own in the classic Belgian beer styles: Trappist, abbey beers, tripel, strong blonde, saison, Flanders red ale and old brown ale, gueuze….
Among the notable winners: Affligem Blond came out on top in the Pale and Amber Ale: Abbey/Trappist-Style Blond category.
In the Pale and Amber Ale: Modern Saisons category, Dubuisson’s Surfine took the gold, and in the Traditional Saisons contest, Saison Avena Biologique from Brasserie Deseveaux left the competition behind.
Wilderen Goud lived up to its golden name in the Strong Blonde/Golden Ale category, alongside Duvel and Filou. Sint Gummarus Dubbel from Cornelissen scooped a silver in the Dark Ale: Brown Ale style. Among the Strong Dark Ales, Wilderen emerged victorious with its Cuvée Clarisse, followed by Val-Dieu Grand Cru and Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel brewed by De Halve Maan.
Sweet for the Sours
Rodenbach came out on top in the Oud Rood (Flanders Red Ale) category with a gold for its Grand Cru and a bronze for the classic Rodenbach. Picking up the silver was the Boston Beer Company from the USA.
In the Oud Bruin (Flanders Brown Ale) category (these beers do not mature in those famous oak foeders) there was another Belgian triumph with a gold for Liefmans Goudenband, and a silver for Petrus Rood Bruin from De Brabandere (previously called oud bruin).
When it came to the Wheat/Witbier style, Blanche de Namur from Brasserie du Bocq came out on top, followed by MC77 Birrificio Artigianale from Italy, and Maestro, a Spanish beer.
In the Flavoured Beer: Old-Style Fruit-Lambic category, Lindemans Oude Kriek Cuvée René scooped the gold, and both Kriek Boon Mariage Parfait, and Oude Quetsche Tilquin à l’ancienne walked away a split-vote silver.
Lindemans triumphed again with its SpontanBasil, beating the competition in the Flavoured Beer: Herb and Spice class.
The winner amongst the Speciality Beer: Old-Style Gueuze-Lambics was Lindemans Oude Gueuze Cuvée René Special Blend 2010. Silver was awarded to Oude Geuze Boon Black Label, and the bronze went to Oude Gueuze Tilquin à l’ancienne.
More Belgian Medals
Among the Light Specialty Beers (less than 7% alcohol by volume) Brasserie de la Senne scooped the gold with its Bruxellensis; and in the Strong Specialty Beers category (greater than 7% ABV) De Halve Maan earned a silver for its Straffe Hendrik Wild.
Anthony Martin ran away with the gold for his Brewer’s Desire in the Speciality Beer: Other Sour Ale category. Lindemans Cassis was pronounced the best Fruit Beer (Flavoured).
Rodenbach Caractère Rouge was silver in this style and Les Cuvées Secrètes de Cornélius Framboise, made by Brasserie d’Ebly, came away with a bronze.
Jef van den Steen, the Belgian beer guru and a member of the jury, concludes: “It is always an enriching experience to taste what is new on the global market and to find out what our colleagues from abroad think of our beers. As Belgians we can be justifiably proud of our results. All that’s left to do is focus a bit more on innovation and experimentation."
For an overview of all the 2016 results or more information on the event visit the official Brussels Beer Challenge website: brusselsbeerchallenge.com.
I look forward to discovering the results at the next Brussels Beer Challenge in 2017.
Brussels Blog Posts
BRUSSELS - To be authentic is not a competition and neither is it a fashionable attitude. You either are an authentic brewer or you are not. You are driven, you make great beers that have a soul, you ... [ read more ]
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. ... [ read more ]
BRUSSELS - In June, Jean-Louis Van de Pere succeeded Theo Vervloet as President of the Belgian brewers’ federation known as the Belgian Brewers. This was also shortly before Sven Gatz would leave ... [ read more ]
BRUSSELS - Thousands of tourists throng together at Brussels’ Grote Markt/Grand Place, one of the most beautiful squares in the world. The flamboyant city hall that dwarfs the surrounding buildings is ... [ read more ]
BRUSSELS - Open Sesame. I disappear through the archway of the imposing 'Brouwershuis', one of the architectural pearls of the Grand Marché in Brussels. This prestigious location – the Brewers’ House ... [ read more ]
You must be logged in to leave a comment
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 competition with en... [ more ]
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 ]
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 ]
ERPE-MERE - He is an author, beer guru, brewer and taster, but first and foremost an educator. Teaching is in Jef Van den Steen’s blood, he was once a maths teacher.... Jef has an explanation ... [ more ]
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 ]
Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup
Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.