Erik's Highlights: Unmissable Belgian beer must do’s

SCHOTEN - All these endless lists… you know where I’m coming from. All those things you want to do, or stop doing, before you blow out any more candles on your birthday cake. All those beers you want to try; all those breweries you would like to visit…

“Which brewery did you enjoy visiting the most?” a British blogger asked me not so long ago. My personal opinion is that I like to avoid the tried-and-tested formulas. I very much prefer an à la carte approach, but I understand that from an organisational point of view, these standardised procedures cannot always be avoided and have their place in the brewery visit pantheon.

How do you choose? I am now nervously fidgeting at my desk. Shall I nail my colours to the mast and make a recommendation? Oh well, why not. Enjoy this selection, each of which was inspired by very different criteria.



Steam Driven

Brasserie A Vapeur in Pipaix comes highly recommended. Every last Saturday of the month, the brewer starts up an authentic 19th century steam engine. You won’t believe your eyes, or your ears! If you want to take pictures, please allow your camera the proper time to reach the right temperature.

Stay for lunch so you can have a chat with Jean-Louis. A unique experience not to be had anywhere else. From Pipaix you can get to Brasserie d'Erquelinnes in no time at all. Whenever I hear this name it makes my day.

Patrick Hoogstoel and friends brew for fun. If the beer runs out, they will simply make some more.

You get the feeling that you are in a village straight out of an Asterix adventure - everyone rolls up their sleeves to produce the magic potion.

Make an appointment for a Saturday and take note: you may know when you are due to arrive but you never know when you are going to leave.



Belgium's Favourite Beer Gnome

A visit to Brasserie d’Achouffe with founder and host Chris Bauweraerts never fails to excite me. Chris is a born storyteller. He will explain how his former partner, brewer Pierre Gobron, came into possession of the secret of the Chouffe recipe that was passed on in whispers by a tiny lad with a red pointy hat.

When he has exhausted his 'well' of stories, Chris will no doubt delight you with a freshly prepared Chouffe Sabayon. Bon appétit!

If you want to explore the further adventures of Chris & Co, these have been written up for posterity in his best seller 'Chouffestory'. You can buy it from the brewery.



Always Drunk?

Sint-Canarus owes its name to drinkers’ club ‘Semper Canarus’, which, loosely translated, means ‘always drunk’. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

The brewer, a.k.a. Doctor Canarus, will initiate you into the secrets of brewing and the therapeutic qualities of hops and barley. A great excuse for a visit, if ever you needed one.


Back to School

The Struise Brouwers have been giving the former Oostvleteren village school a bad reputation. No idea why… Carlo Grootaert and brewer Urbain Coutteau are happy to share the fruits of their experimental labours with you.

Then point your compass at Moen to see what their Alvinne colleagues have been brewing up in the tanks of this microbrewery.

Schol!