Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Brasserie Orval article in Taps: The Beer Magazine

Two weeks without a post. Yeah, the holidays will do that
to you. I'll try and be more active now and in the New Year.

But I do have some good news for lovers of brett beers.
And Trappist beers.

I might as well tell you that I have had yet another article
published on Brasserie Orval, at l' Abbaye Notre Dame d' Orval
in Luxembourg Province, Wallonia.

(Photo, above: the stained-glass windows behind the
new brewhouse at Orval.)

The 1250+ word piece is on the cover of Taps: The Beer Magazine,
Canada's only beer mag. As far as I know, anyway.

(Photo, above: a row of secondary fermenters at Orval,
where the dry-hopping is done and brettanomyces yeasts
are added over a three week period of cold-conditioning.
These date to 1956!)

I cover the new brewhouse at Orval, updates from the brewery,
and the brewing process there. As well, I give the low-down
on Orval's excellent new cafe/restaurant/taproom, A' la Ange Gardien.
Yes, the Guardian Angel cafe.

(Photo, above: the new Petit Orval (4.5% abv) being served
on draft at A l' Ange Gardien at Orval. It's realllly good!)

(Photo, above: fine meals at the cafe.)

(Photo, above: spent grains in the secondary fermentation
room at Orval.)

(Photo, above: François de Harenne with a bag of
Hallertauer Hersbrucker whole leaf hops.)

For more photos, including inside the brewhouse, see this
earlier post: Orval

Taps is available at many Barnes and Noble stores throughout the

You can also buy a pdf version or order issues at:


Monday, December 12, 2011

www.belgianbeer.com goes to Belgian Family Brewers Association

www.belgianbeer.com goes to Belgian Family Brewers Association

One of the Internet’s most important Belgian beer domain names has been donated to the Belgian Family Brewers Association, and I’m happy to say that yours truly had a hand in it.

Volker Stewart (pictured above) co-owner of The Brewer’s Art, a brewpub/restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland, registered the domain name in 1996, the same year Brewer’s Art opened.

The Brewer’s Art crafts Belgian-inspired brews and offers fine foods in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, at 1106 N. Charles Street.

“I got the domain because we wanted to brew beers that were influenced by the free-spirited nature of Belgian brewers,” Stewart told me. “Also, I’d like to add that as an establishment, we have always promoted the rich and diverse nature of Belgian beers. In fact, we have poured beers from every member of the BFB at some point in time over the years! I registered belgianbeer.com not only to promote my own business, but also to raise awareness of these beers at a time when they were not as well known as they are now,” he added.

He added: I realized within a few years that it was more prudent for me to use a domain name that was more business-specific, and I registered thebrewersart.com. The question remained: What to do with belgianbeer.com?”

“So, I started to think about donating the domain to a worthy Belgian trade/beer promotion organization,” Stewart told me. “that’s when I asked you who you thought would be the best choice, due to your familiarity with the beer scene in Belgium,” he continued.

After giving it some thought, I consulted Wendy Littlefield of Vanberg & DeWulf Importers for a discussion about the candidates I was thinking of recommending to Stewart.

I already had a list, but wanted to ask a few questions of someone that had been importing beer from Belgium to the U.S. for 30 years.

After out talk, I was convinced that The Belgian Family Brewers Association was the right choice, and happily, Stewart agreed.

Then, the long process of transferring the domain began, but that’s a story better told by Stewart and the head of the BFB, Charles Leclef of Brouwerij Het Anker in Mechelen.

Leclef (pictured above) told me: “As Chairman of the BFB Association, I was both proud and thankful that our group was given the domain name by Volker Stewart. He thought enough of us, and of promoting Belgian beer, to donate the important domain, rather than selling it. It was a very honest attitude on his part part.”

With the new domain comes a newly redesigned website for the BFB, including a video showing parts of the brewing process at each member.

The sixteen members of the BFB produce a lot of great beers. Truth be told, some of my favorite breweries in Belgium are in the group. They craft some great Belgian brews, such as Saison Dupont and Avec les Bons Voeux from Dupont; St. Bernardus 8 and 12; Dubuisson Bush (Scaldis) Noel; Het Anker Hopsinjoor and Classic Brown; Lefebvre Blanche de Bruxelles; Verhaeghe’s Vichtenaar, Bavik’s Petrus Aged Pale Ale; and many others.

I have visited all 16 of the member breweries, some several times.

This is from the BFB website:

“The association’s objective is to promote historic, independent family breweries which bring genuine added value to the identity and authenticity of Belgian brewing methods.”

A very worthy goal, and one to support.

(Photo, above: Hugues Dubuisson, Founder, Belgian Family Brewers Association.)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Holiday Beer Fest is this Saturday

One of Baltimore's best holiday beer events is just two days away.

The Mid-Atlantic Holiday Beer Fest, formerly held at
The Brewer's Art, is now a joint venture between that
establishment and Pratt Street Alehouse.

The event will be held at Pratt Street, as it is a much larger
venue than The Brewer's Art and can accommodate more
beer lovers.

"We could only sell about a hundred tickets to the event at
our place," Brewer's Art co-owner Volker Stewart told me.
"And there was far more demand for tickets than supply. So
the new venue should alleviate that problem."

The event has always featured a buffet with fine eats and this
year should be no different.

The following brews will be poured:

Brewer's Alley - Scotch Ale
Brewers Art St. Festivus
DOG -Very Berry Tart
DuClaw -Devil's Milk Bourbon-Aged Porter
Evolution - Secret Spot Ale
Heavy Seas Winter Storm
Red Brick Station - Murphy's Porter
Troeg's - JavaHead, Troegenator and Mad Elf
Victory -Yakima Glory
Weyerbacher - Winter Ale
Flying Dog - Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout & K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale

Pratt Street will have several firkins on tap as well, including
two new collaboration beers.

The $40 admisison includes unlimited food and all beer

Tickets are available at Pratt Street Alehouse and here:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Orval Trappist article in Celebrator Beer News-online now

(Photo, above: the new brewhouse at Orval, with
stained-glass windows in the background.)

Sorry for my absence lately. It's been a very busy few

I'm happy to say that I have a 1,000 word feature article about
Orval, one of the seven Trappist Abbeys that brew beer,
in the December issue of Celebrator Beer News.

I'm even happier to say that you can read the entire issue
on-line now, for free, here. Enjoy!

(Photos, above: The new Guardian Angel Cafe, and the new
Petit Orval on draft there.)

You do have to have Adobe Flash player installed.

Simply click on the page image to zoom in and read.

(Photo, above: a very old enamel plate in the Orval
brewery offices.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coast to Coast Toast is in one week

Vanberg and DeWulf's Coast to Coast Toast is just one
week away.

OK, so just what is this event? Well, it's a celebration of
importing Belgian brews into the USA for 30 years.

Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, the husband
and wife duo that are Vanberg and DeWulf, first started
importing Belgian beers stateside in 1982.

They were the first to import Duvel, Rodenbach, and
many other hallowed beers from "The Beer Country"
to our shores.

Currently, Don and Wendy import several beers from Brasserie
Dubuisson, which are labeled as Scaldis in the USA, and Bush in
much of Europe. It's just about time for Scaldis Noel, and Scaldis
Prestige and Prestige de Nuits always hit the spot. Scaldis,
Scaldis Triple and Scadis Refermetee are also fine brews.

They also import the Witkap beers of Brouwerij Slaghmuylder,
as well as several from the new Brouwerij Dilewyns of Dendermonde.
Several other special brews, such as Lambrucha, Hop Ruiter
and Lambickx are also brought in.

Their best known brewery, though, is certainly Brasserie Dupont
of Tourpes, in Hainaut Province. With a dozen world-class Dupont
brews on their import list, including Saison Dupont, Moinette,
Cervesia, and Avec les Bons Voeux, Don and Wendy have an incredible
portfolio from this world-renowned brewery.

As mentioned in the previous post, here, I have produced a movie
and article about the brewery, which publicans can download
and show attendees next week.

In fact, I will be at The Brewer's Art in Baltimore next Tuesday,
where we will show the Dupont movie. And enjoy a few beers,
I expect. Max's Taphouse and Hudson Street Stackhouse are other
local spots for the Coast to Coast Toast (C2CT) here in Charm

There are already about 350 bars, restaurants, and shops across
the USA signed up to be hosts for the event.

and....a trip to Belgium will be given away to some lucky (pair)
of beer lovers! You heard right. Untappd, Vanberg and DeWulf,
and the Belgian Tourist Office and Delta Airlines have teamed
up on this.

For more details on the C2CT event, see the Eventbrite and
Vanberg & DeWulf websites....and enjoy!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Brasserie Dupont movie and article

(Photo, above: Olivier Dedeycker, brewmaster,
Brasserie Dupont.)

Looooong time no post here. Ten days in Belgium at the end of
September, then ten days of Baltimore Beer Week, and then
several article deadlines soon after will do that to a beer writer.

Yeah, I know. Excuses, excuses.

(Photo, above: the brewhouse is in this building)

But there is good news for all you Belgian beer lovers out
there., especially those who like world class saisons, strong
blonde ales and legendary winter brews.

I've been working on a movie of Brasserie Dupont for some
time now. Using the iMovie program on a Mac, I've taken about
70 still photos I snapped at the brewery, along with an audiotaped
interview with Brewmaster/Director Olivier Dedeycker, and made
it into a six minute movie.

(Photo, above: Dupont's 1920 boiling kettles.)

There's also a nearly 5,000 word article based on interviews
with Olivier, with much of the history of the brewery. Much of
it I had never heard before, so I think it makes for a very
interesting read.

Brewmaster/Brewery Director Dedeycker has never been to the
USA, despite working at Dupont for 21 years, and being the head
honcho for the last nine of those.

Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, the husband and wife team
that runs Vanberg & DeWulf, importers of the Dupont brews and
many others brews, tell me this will one of the first times most
people stateside have seen, let alone heard Dedeycker speak.

He's a soft-spoken, modest, reserved guy, but he's also a serious
beer lover. In fact, Olivier told me he is a fanatic for authentic
lambic and gueuze, such as Girardin Black Label Oude Gueuze.

I picked out some of my best shots inside and outside Brasserie
Dupont, as well as at their taproom, Les Caves Dupont, and the
Cafe La Forge just a hundred meters away.

You can read all about this in the pdf article which is paired with
either a Quicktime movie, or MPEG-4 files.

Each zip file download comes with small, medium and large size
files of either the Quicktime movie (best for Mac users) and
MPEG-4, which will open in newer versions of Windows
Media Player, and also in Quicktime.

PC and Mac users can download Quicktime for free at:

The price for this content filled, fascinating look into and
article about one of the world's great breweries? Just $2.99

You can purchase the movie at the top right hand
corner of this blog page where you see the Visa/
Mastercard emblem.

Cheers, and Sante!

Friday, October 14, 2011

"B'More Belgians" event is this weekend

Hudson Street Stackhouse, here in the Canton neighborhood
of Baltimore, Maryland, will have its first "B'More Belgians"
event this weekend, and I'll be there.

(Photo, above: Dominic DeSantis, seated, with sister/
sour beer lover Dyana, and their Dad.)

Hudson Street owner Dominic DeSantis just bumped the taps
from 24 to 36 less than two weeks ago, and all 36 will be
pumping brews from Flanders and Wallonia, beginning at
2 pm today.

I wrote most of the beer descriptions and consulted on
the beer list, and its been a busy week. Crazy busy.

The draft list includes:

La Chouffe
Houblon Chouffe
Petrus Oud Bruin
Blaugies Saison d' Epeautre
Blaugies La Moneuse
Bockor Cuvee de Jacobins Rouge
Cazeau Tournay Blonde
Contreras Valeir Divers
Deca Westoek X
Dubuisson Scaldis Noel
Dupont Foret Blanche
Dupont Moinette
Dupont Redor Pils
Dupont Saison Dupont
Duvel Singel
Hof ten Dormaal Amber
Hof ten Dormaal Winter 11
Gulden Draak
Liefmans Oud Bruin
Malheur 10
Maredsous 8
Oud Beersel Framboise
Poperings Hommelbier
Rodenbach Grand Cru
Scotch de Silly
Silly La Divine
St. Bernadus Witbier
St. Bernardus Tripel
St. Bernardus Abt 12
St. Canarus Tripel
Strubbe Ichtegems Grand Cru
Toria Blonde
Toria Tripel
Troubadour Magma
Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne
Verhaeghe Echte Kriekenbier

There's a good bottle list too, with plenty of
Oude Gueuze and Oude Kriek on hand, among
many others.

Tough job, but someone has to do it.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Baltimore Beer Week has begun!

Long time no post.

I was in Belgium for ten days, 20 brewery tours and many beer cafe
visits until this past Tuesday when I returned.

No rest for the weary though, as the opening tap celebration for
Baltimore Beer Week was Thursday night.

The event was held at Ram's Head Live and was well attended.

Today, The Maryland Brewer's Oktoberfest is the highlight among the
many other events going on around Charm City.

Tomorrow: Stillwater Artisanal day at Max's Taphouse, beginning at

Phew. I guess I might get to sleep sometime in November....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A pair of special new brews from Brouwerij Rodenbach

Rudi Ghequire and his staff at the Rodenbach brewery
in Roeselare, West Flanders have been busy.

When I last visited the venerable brouwery in June
2010, Rudi told me he had some projects he was working
on, but that he could not discuss them until they had
come to fruition.

A couple of them have now, I'm happy to say!

Rodenbach Limited Edition Vintage 2009 was just released
in Belgium this month. Vintage 2009 was aged in foeder
number 145 for two years. The taste is described as complex,
full, spicy and refreshing.

Foeders are, of course, the huge oak barrels Rodenbach ages
its beer in. There are 294 of these massive tuns, some as
many as 150 years old.

Rodenbach spokesman Peter Buelens said: "There are notes of
caramel and green apples mixed with an oak character in the
background. The soft, sour, fruity aftertaste is long and
well balanced."

Some 37,000 bottles in 75 cl size were filled of this brew,
and about 9,000 of them are headed stateside. It has 7% abv.

I'm really looking forward to tasting this, as Rodenbach
is one of my favorite breweries! The site is really a Belgian
national shrine.

The second beer is even more special, and will be vastly more
hard to find: Rodenbach Caractère Rouge.

Palm breweries and Rodenbach's Ghequire collaborated with chef
Viki Geunes of Antwerp's ’t Zilte restaurant to create this
brew. Caractère Rouge is the first test project between Geunes
and Palm breweries.

't Zilte has two Michelin stars.

Rodenbach Caractère Rouge is aged in oak barrels for two years.
The resulting brew was then steeped in cherries, cranberries and
raspberries for six months. It was then bottled with yeast so a
bottle fermentation would occur. (Yum, seriously. Sounds like
it will be a great beer!!)

Only 900 bottles of this beer were filled, so it will surely be
a hot commodity. It also weighs in at 7% abv.

Geunes commented: "The Rodenbach Caractère Rouge has a subtle
fruity nose of raspberry and cherry, with wood and caramel notes.
There is also an aroma of violets, and hints of leather and
light tobacco. In short, it is a beer with a vinuous aroma.
On the first tantalizing taste, there is crisp acidity. The
taste is then soon countered by a pleasant residual sweetness
and delicate dryness produced by the cranberries. They give the
beer a long, clean and very pleasant aftertaste.
The three fruits used together provide an effect that is clearly
not to be missed. When I taste this Rodenbach, I just think a fresh
burgundy wine."

I hope I am able to taste Caractère Rouge on a future trip to Belgium!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Moeder Lambic Fontainas article in Celebrator Beer News

I have a 700+ word article in the August/September issue
of Celebrator Beer News on Brussels' great "new" bar,
Moeder Lambic Fontainas.

(Photo, above: most of the crew of Moeder Lambic
Fontainas. From left: Cynthia Paladini, Nassim Dessicy,
Julie Posschelle, Jean Hummler, and Andy Mengal.)

With 40 beers on draft and six beer engines, you can
spend a lot of time at Place Fontainas #8. And it would
be time well spent. Assuming you are a beer lover.
But you wouldn't be there if you weren't a beer lover,
would you?

(Photo, above: the beer blackboard. Mouth-watering, no?)

(Photo, above: pictured with the article is Julie Posschelle.)

You can find Celebrator Beer News at better bars, brewpubs,
breweries and other beery spots. Locations in my area include
Max's Taphouse in Baltimore; RFD in Washington, D.C.;
Monk's Cafe in Philly; and Sly Fox in southeast Pennsylvania,
among other locales. See: Celebrator

Monday, August 15, 2011

Alvinne/De Struise article in Taps: The Beer Magazine

I'm happy to say that I have a 1,000 word article on two
great Belgian breweries in the summer issue of Taps:
The Beer Magazine.

(Photo, above: Davy Spiessens and Glenn Castelein
of Picobrouwerij Alvinne.)

The article, given the title of "Naked Ladies and the Gypsy"
by Taps Art Director, Cary Hyodo, features Picobrouwerij
Alvinne and De Struise Brouwers. Both West Flanders
breweries have been very innovative since their inceptions,
and continue to please the palates of discerning beer lovers
all over the world.

(Photo, above: Urbain Cotteau and Carlo Grootaert
of De Struise Brouwers.)

Alvinne has installed a new brewery in Moen,
West Flanders since I wrote the article.

De Struise Brouwers continues to add to their
Old Schoolhouse brewery in Oostvleteren and
to brew there and at Deca in Woesten.

Taps is available at Barnes and Noble and Borders
stores throughout the U.S. as well as other locations.

The Canadian-based magazine is of course readily
available in that country as well.

Taps is also available for on-line download at

I hope everyone enjoys the article!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Brouwerij Dilewyns beers and Dupont's Cervesia and Biere De Beloeil arrive in U.S.

(Photo, above: Anne-Catherine Dilewyns and Vincent Dilewyns.)

Several fine Belgian brews just arrived stateside, and for the
first time.

Wendy Littlefield of Vanberg & Dewulf Importers informed
me yesterday that the first kegs of Vicaris Generaal and
Vicardin Tripel Gueuze have arrived in the U.S.

These beers were brewed at the new Dilewyns brewery in
Dendermonde, East Flanders. I plan to visit during my next trip
to Belgium.

The Tripel Gueuze is a blend of Vicardin Tripel and
Girardin White label gueuze. It is a very pleasant mildly
sour beer of 7 % abv. Yum!

(Photo, above: Dupont brewmaster Olivier Dedeycker with
Cervesia, aka Posca Rustica stateside.)

Also in the house: Dupont's superb gruut beer, Cervesia.
It is renamed as Posca Rustica for the U.S. market.

Dupont's Bière de Belœil also makes it first appearance
on this side of the pond.

Anyone else getting thirsty for a Belgian beer now???

I know I am!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Modeste Beer Festival: Antwerp's new beer fest

The city of Antwerp has long been known as the home of the “bolleke” which is local slang for a glass of Brouwerij De Koninck’s Amber ale, served on tap in a distinctive glass similar to a chalice in style. This 5% abv, amberish pale ale has been the session beer of the city for decades.

(Photos, above: a Bolleke of De Koninck and Brouwerij De Koninck.)

For years Antwerp was also the home of the 24 Hours of Belgian Special Beer, a great festival that was the country’s premier beer event. I attended five times. The 24 Hours fest was last held in 2002, when the OBP, the group that organized the fest, folded up.

(Photo, above: Hans Bombeke, 't Antwerps Bier College.)

A few years ago, ‘t Antwerps Bier College (ABC) a Zythos-affiliated, beer appreciation and promotion group, was formed. ABC, with the support of Brouwerij De Koninck, has decided to organize a new beer fest, to be held on the grounds and buildings of the brewery on October 1 and 2. I know they are capable of such a task, as Hans Bombeke, formerly of the ‘t Waagstuk café in Antwerp, is their chairman.

(Photo, above: the brewhouse at Brouwerij De Koninck.)

Hans has long been involved in the Belgian beer world. He told me: “The purpose of the fest is mainly to promote small breweries with less than 2,000 hl of production each year. Hof ten Dormal, Inter-Pol, Drie Fonteinen, De Cam, Les 3 Fourquets and Verhuisbrouwerij are just a few that are already signed up for the event. There should be 30 or so small breweries participating, with different ones Saturday and Sunday,” he continued. See antwerpsbiercollege.be.

The 15 members of the Belgian Family Brewers (belgianfamilybrewers.be) are also invited. Additionally, Achouffe, Duvel, Liefmans and of course De Koninck, will be represented.

The event will run from 11 am to 7 pm both days. Serving size is 15 cl, and will cost only one euro. There will be beer and cheese pairings, with other gastronomic meals available. Several special guests, such as Michel Moortgat, Chris Bauweraerts and the hop researcher, Professor Denis De Keukeleire of the University of Ghent, will speak on various topics.

Brewery visits will be offered throughout the festival weekend. See: dekoninck.be.

Duvel-Moorgat Beer Ambassador Nicolas Soenen stated:

It will definitely be one of the first times in Belgium that a brewery invites other breweries to show what they’re capable of inside the walls of the brewery and we believe this is a positive signal towards our colleagues in times where the competition can be harsh.

This letter arrived from ABC last week:

Antwerp, July 2011

Dear Friends of Beer,

The “Antwerps BierCollege” has the pleasure to invite you for the very first

Modeste Bier Festival

On the 1st and the 2nd of October 2011 in the buildings of Brewery De Koninck: Mechelsesteenweg 219, Antwerp, Belgium.

With this beer festival we’d like to honor Modeste Van Den Bogaert, a brewing monument in Belgium, who deceased exactly one year ago on the 1st of October.

We’d also like to offer a forum to the “Modest(e)” craft breweries in Belgium.

More than 20 of them already confirmed their presence and between them also the smallest official brewery in the beer country of Belgium, namely Brewery Inter-Pol (80l.). (Hof Ten Dormaal, ‘t Hofbrouwerijke, 3 Fonteinen, De Cam, Boelens, Kempisch Vuur, De Dochter Van De Korenaar,...)

These small breweries can only rarely be found on beer festivals but without them

Belgium wouldn’t be such a beer country!

For this beer festival we also get the support and presence of the Belgian Family Brewers as well as Brewery Duvel Moortgat.

Taking in consideration the unique location of our beer festival, we can also propose brewery visits throughout the festival.

And we even asked the brewing masters of Brewery De Koninck to guide some technical brewery visits for the specialists.

In the margin of the festival there will also be held some interesting lectures such as:

- The presentation of the new book: “Antwerp Beercity: the history of brewing in Antwerp”.

- Prof. Dr. De Keukeleire: “Hops and health”

- Chris Bauweraerts (Brewery Achouffe): “Rise of the strongly hopped Beers”

- Wilfried Patroons (beerautor and –activist): “Van Schijn tot Scheld”

- Sven Gatz (President of the Belgian Brewers Association): “The future of our


Furthermore there will be some interesting beer and cheese pairing sessions led by two of the best cheese refiners in Belgium!

Some hotels give a special arrangement that weekend: www.antwerpsbiercollege.be

We hope to see you there !!

Hans Bombeke

President Antwerp BeerCollege

(Note to readers: I don't know why the text and

formatting is so off on this post, but I know I

won't be using Safari again to make a post. Back to

Firefox or Camino in the future.)