Zythos Beer Festival 2015
Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2015-04-28 09:00:18 +0200 / Last Updated: almost 3 years ago
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 impossible to worm your way through pretty much everywhere. You hear a cacophony of languages.
Visitors come from all over Europe but have also flown in from the USA and Asia.
Beer lovers from abroad will often schedule their travel so they can take in Zythos and stay on for the Toer de Geuze, held one week later, when lambic brewers and geuzestekers in the Brussels region open their doors to the public.
The enthusiasm of beer fans for their favourite drink remains fascinating to see as is the amount of effort they put into tracking down that one particular taste or variety they have not yet sampled.
As always, the Zythos Beer Festival provides a great sample of what Belgium has to offer in the field of specialty beers.
What’s more, all the brewers exhibiting here are equal in the eyes of the law. Large or small, the size of the booth where they display their wares is the same for everyone.
Meanwhile, tangible or mouth-to-mouth advertising are both proving very effective. ‘Have you tasted this ‘limited edition’ yet? Or that ‘barrel aged’ or ‘brett’..? I overhear Italians with an impeccable pronunciation of the name of ‘Straffe Hendrik Heritage’.
A Sea of Beer
So, what’s on the menu? Around five hundred beers dotted around eighty-nine booths. Admittedly, there is no room for any more. Sign up early to ensure your place. The organisation gets in touch with the brewers first of all, followed by the beer firms (who don’t have their own brewing equipment).
At one point, applicants will be told that ‘Full is full’. Safety has to be taken into account. This number of exhibitors brings Zythos on a par with the main European beer festivals.
In Belgium, it is in the Top 3 together with the Brussels Beer Weekend and the BAB Brugs Bierfestival.
In spite of the never-ending stream of visitors, the atmosphere is relatively quiet, but livens up when a glass crashes down on the floor and the public starts to cheer and launches into a Mexican wave.
What is happening at the moment in our beer country of Belgium?
First and foremost, brewers are experimenting with hops in the form of IPAs (India Pale Ale).
Exotic aroma hops in particular are doing well. You will also come across classics such as the ‘spéciale belge’ Palm amber beer, but in an unfiltered version. Or the Rodenbach foeder beer. And wood-matured versions of well-known beers.
Most brewers in Belgium will interpret new trends in their own way and translate them into existing beer styles, going for added value and balanced beers. Others are creating blended styles like the tripelgeuze or unleash wild yeasts (Brettanomyces) on the beer just before bottling.
The beer will slowly re-ferment in the bottle and develop freshly sour aromas.
This brings us to the different fermentation methods distinguished here in Belgium.
We have bottom-fermented and top-fermented beers, beers of mixed fermentation, spontaneous fermentation of combinations thereof.
After all, we are talking about the ‘soul’ of the beer. And the brewer will safeguard this religiously with the assistance of the very best fermentation experts.
However, the Zythos festival programme includes more than beer. Many visitors from abroad are discovering that there is another side to Belgium.
The city of Leuven is playing its beer trump card by organising many related activities: city tours, brewery visits, packaged trips including cycling, hiking and culinary delights, always featuring beer in one way or another.
At the festival, countless volunteers from more than forty local divisions of beer consumer association Zythos ensure that all is running smoothly on this day, the most important date in their calendars.
Not an easy task when so many glasses are emptied right down to the bottom. Have you tasted everything there is to taste?
Leuven Blog Posts
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 ]
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 ]
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 ... [ read more ]
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
MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE - “Their cuisine is on a par with that of the French and the portions are generous...” When people discuss the Belgian art of living, it won’t be long before the term ‘Burgundian’ ... [ more ]
BRUGES - Eleven years ago it all started off on quite a modest scale in the medieval town hall of Bruges, under the imposing gaze of the Belfry. Now, in 2018, the Bruges Beer Festival has spread its wings and encompasses... [ more ]
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 Line, ... [ 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 the world. ... [ 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 the ... [ more ]
In 1955 Sylva Rosier, the grandfather of current Dupont chief Olivier Dedeycker, launched a stronger version of the Saison Dupont and christened it Moinette. It is an artisan beer,... [ more ]
Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup
Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.