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. A visit to Europe’s greatest beer festival is a ‘must’ for beer aficionados from the Americas, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, France and, last but not least, Belgium.
They have come to the right place. There is no better way to sample the great variety of the Belgian beer world. Around one hundred breweries and beer firms set out their stalls.
Many festivalgoers come along just for the ‘kick’ of discovering something new. You often hear the comment: “We haven’t come here to taste beer that we can buy in our local store”. Limited editions, barrel aged, brett… The air is thick with beer jargon.
Many visitors know the beers offered by their beloved breweries off by heart and are quick to pick up on novelties. Having said all this, the classic beers are always a resounding success.
The Trappist breweries are occupying a joint booth. A number of visitors are tasting the lesser-known Achel Blond. Chimay is introducing its lighter Dorée and now also available from the tap, Chimay Bleue. Orval, Rochefort and Westmalle are sticking to their tried and trusted range.
Brasserie de Bastogne is introducing its My Deer barley wine and has also brought along its Ardenne Saison, Spirit, Stout and Pale Ale. At Cornelissen you find the de Herkenrode and Sint-Gummarus abbey beers, the Limburgse Witte and its Bosbier.
Brasserie Dupont, the outstanding international reference for saison, is promoting its Saison Dupont, the stronger Moinette version, Monk’s Stout and the not widely known Rédor Pils.
At Duvel Moortgat the focus is on the latest Duvel Tripel Hop but the spotlight also shines on the Wild Jo made by De Koninck, Chateau d’Ychouffe from Brasserie d’Achouffe and the test brews that go under the names of Imperial Red Ale, Russian Imperial Stout and Pierre’s Bock.
De Halve Maan has brewed the next instalment of the Straffe Hendrik saga with its Straffe Hendrik Wild, with added wild yeasts. Brouwerij Huyghe is focusing on Averbode, La Guillotine and the Delirium family, now including the ‘limited edition’ Deliria.
At the booth of Palm Belgian Craft Brewers you will find Arthur’s Legacy Belle Hélène and Saison d’Henriette from its De Hoorn microbrewery as well as the Cornet with its woody taste, the Palm Hop Select brewed with hops from the brewery’s own field, the Rodenbach Grand Cru, Vintage and Caractère Rouge.
Roman introduces the lighter and quite hoppy Ename Pater besides the familiar double and triple, the Gentse Strop, Adriaen Brouwer Dark Gold and Sloeber.
Brasserie de Silly is experiencing a high demand for its Scotch Silly, matured in bourbon whisky barrels, and the Silly Rouge, a new blend of scotch and cherry juice.
St-Bernardus, known for its St-Bernardus Wit, Extra 4, Tripel and Abt, founded Ypres microbrewery De Kazematten.
Their Grotten Santé was launched by Pierre Celis who was responsible for creating the Hoegaarden white beer and Celis White. Wipers Times 14 reminds you of the English soldiers stationed in Ypres during the First World War.
Tasting Belgian beers always involves a bit of travel.
At the Timmermans booth you can taste the Bruges beer Bourgogne des Flandres, Waterloo Strong Dark and Triple and the Timmermans Oude Gueuze, Oude Kriek and Blanche Lambicus.
Val-Dieu is showcasing the surprisingly strong Rader Ambrée. And the Gulden Draak family, created by Van Steenberge, has been enlarged with a Brewmasters Edition.
Wilderen puts its latest scion, the dark Cuvée Clarisse, in the spotlight. So, have you been tasting to your heart’s content? Did you visit both days? Or are you coming back next year?