THE BEST BELGIAN BEER FESTIVALS IN 2018
The best Belgian Beer Festivals in 2018
Let’s face it. Brussels, the capital of Belgium, only has one independent craft beer bar and 3-4 beer shops. The beer bar is the infamous Moeder Lambic, a compulsory stop for every beer lover who happens to travel in Brussels- and doesn’t mind paying 5€ for a glass of beer.
All other bars and restaurants are secretly in the hands of large beer corporations which literally dominate the market (and manipulate Belgian laws) by making sure their presence and activities remains undisturbed.
We call these large corporations “Beer Cartels” at Belgibeer and effectively refrain access to the market from small players.
True beer lovers may only currently experience the full Belgian craft beer movement in beer festivals. We have decided to showcase some of the best occurring events in Belgium until the end of the year.
Please note that some festivals happening in 2018 do not yet have a confirmed date yet, so please do check the mentioned websites as the time approaches to make sure you have an exact date.
The ZYTHOS BIER FESTIVAL is usually held at the Brabanthal of Leuven. A huge auditorium hosting almost all Belgian breweries and beer firms (those producing beers without their own equipment).
Some beers are brewed especially for the occasion, allowing visitors to discover new products. The festival also invites local food and beer specialists who organize workshops and other activities around Belgian beer.
This is THE BEER festival where almost all Belgian brewers are present.
BelgiBeer had the pleasure of being present at the event two years ago. If you are a beer expert, we strongly recommend coming in the morning, or around the time doors open (around noon). This will give you time to calmly taste the products and talk to brewers.
Alternatively, if you are more in a beer lover and party mood swing, we strongly suggest coming later the day. The place will be literally flooded by party minded people who will be there mostly to get drunk. Be careful though. Despite being balanced ales, Belgian beers are higher in alcohol content. Make sure you know your drinking limits.
WEEKEND DER SPONTANE GISTING will be celebrating its 27th edition by only serving beers of spontaneous fermentation on the 26th and 27th of May.
These beers are not for everyone, especially if you are just being initiated to the whole craft beer movement. Spontaneous fermentation happens when wild yeast present in the air turns the wort into sour beer. We call these Lambic. Skilled artisans are then able to blend these different lambics from various locations and production years to create unique geuzes. Famous lambics, krieks and guezes producers in Belgium include Cantillon, Faro, 3 Fontainen, Oud Beersel, Boon who will be present along Tim Webb, the famous beer writer.
Venue : Tapperij Beukenhof, Broekstraat 18, 9255 Opstal-Buggenhout
Details : www.en.bierpallieters.be/weekend
The SUMMER BEER LOVERS 'FESTIVAL of Liege invites you to discover Walloons’ artisanal beers. The festival begins the first days of June and lasts for about 5 days. About 30 breweries from the south are generally present showcasing their latest creations.
The event takes place on the infamous Place Saint Lambert’s square, in the heart of the Ardente. Launched in 2014 for the first time, the city of Liege aims at competing against Brussels and Leuven in terms of beer tourism.
Belgibeer has been present to the event in the past and although rain shelters are readily available on site, we strongly recommend bringing an umbrella and your great moods.
Place : Place Saint Lambert, Liège, Belgium
Website : http://summerbeerloversfestival.be
Another June’s event is the BIERPASSIE WEEKEND in Antwerp. This event is organised by Golden Hops’ competitors, a Flemish magazine called ‘Bierpassie” which in English stands for Beer Passion.
The event is an unmissable gathering of medium and larger breweries mostly from Flanders organised in collaboration with Ben Vinken.
About 30 breweries are present every year together with the joyful presence of jazz bands to make this a very memorable event.
NAMUR CAPITALE DE LA BIÈRE is a growing event held multiple times a year. This year it’s going to be held on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of July. In total, some 150 beers from 40 breweries are offered to visitors in various parts of the city. The event also offers entertainment for children, concerts and local foods. Access to the site for one day is a symbolic 1€ and 2€ for the whole 3 days. More than 12,000 people are expected to join with Belgian breweries from all over the country.
Venue : Namur, Belgium
Website : http://www.namurcapitaledelabiere.be
16ème RENCONTRE DES BRASSERIES DU LUXEMBOURG BELGE is another great beer event held the evergreen city of Hotton in the Ardennes. The event is very specific for those who wish to know more about beer.
Zythologue (beer sommeliers) courses are provided including beer quizzes and gatherings with brewers who explain their work. Various kind of activities are carried out such as arts and musical events. The event runs on an entire day so be sure to visit their website to keep up to date.
Venue : City of Hotton
Website : https://terroirlux.be/event/rencontre-des-brasseries-du-luxembourg-belge/
During the heat of the summer various events are to be signalled. Some major other minor but all with a great welcoming atmosphere.
The month kicks off with a tiny beer festival located on the outskirts of Namur, the FESTIVAL BIERES-VOUS. The festival takes place in the gardens of an old castle- on the first weekend of August. Belgium has the highest number of castles pro-capita anywhere in world. If the weather is good, you’ll be enjoying awesome beers from small-medium craft breweries, but also new comers on the market. Local street foods will be made readily available, including a stage with live music being played all day (and night).
Belgibeer was present at this event about two years ago making visitors discover our home beer delivery service. An enormous success during the whole weekend!
Venue : Chateau de Schaltin
Website : http://festival.bierezvous.be/
The weekend after another cool event takes place in Wallonia, this time by a much larger actor, Chouffe: LA GRAND CHOUFFERIE. The event is very well organised with proper tours of the brewery topping off with a visit to the in-house restaurant and tap bar.
Despite the international reputation of Chouffe, you’ll notice that the brewery itself is actually very small. As you walk around with your guide, you’ll quickly understand that a mixture of organisation and space management (together with Duvel’s support for bottling at another location) made the brewery a very effective, high yield institution.
One of the things you’ll notice while at Chouffe, is the great green areas. You are in fact in the Ardennes (Belgium’s green lungs). Different activities take place during the festival: beer crate climbing, cheese and beer pairings, concerts, tours and many other games.
Venue : Brasserie d’Achouffe in Wilbrin (Houffalize)
The Flemish also have some outstanding events lined up. The great city of Gent has its very own beer festival which goes by the name of GENTS BIERFESTIVAL.
The 9th edition for 2018 does not have official dates yet but its most likely to happen either the second or third week of August. The event is very layback with respect to other festivals and it generally attracts all kinds of beer drinkers, from beginners to experts. The peculiarity from the event, aside from being hosted in a great town, is the invitation to a foreign brewer to come and showcase his products.
Venue : VIP School, Martelaarslaan 13-15, 9000 Ghent
Another event happening towards the end of August is the NORTH SEA BEER FESTIVAL. As the name of the festival indicates it happens on in the coastal city of Oostende on the last weekend of the month.
Over 150 beers from 25 different breweries and beer firms will be present in a warm environment together with local food trucks and live DJs rocking the place. Attendance for the whole weekend is 12€ which includes 3 drinks. Additional beers : 2€ each. Minors enter for free and allowed to drink ONLY if their parents grant them permission.
Venue : Leopoldpark, Leopold II-laan, 8400 Oostende
We could be talking about the BELGIAN BEER WEEKEND happening on the first weekend of September in Brussels’ main square (financed by ABInbev) or the MODESTE BEER FESTIVAL on the last weekend of the month in Antwerp and sponsored by Duvel. But the aim is here is to provide a lore local insight. Instead, we’ll give more visibility to two towns harvesting HOPS and providing more local Belgian-style events! If you do go for these events, make sure to freshen up your spoken Walloon or Flemish dialects!
The first event is hosted by Brasserie des Carrières. Every year in September they organise a 3 days town party called “LA FETE DE LA DIOLE”. Diole in French Walloon means a naughty boy. Rightly so, the party begins on a Friday afternoon with local delicatessen, town music, dancing and lots of craft beers straight form the brewery. The following morning, a local band parades through the town until they reach the brewery’s hop farm. Some hops are immediately collected and used in a “fresh hop” brew right in the morning. Visitors can experience the full process, although asked not to touch anything.
At the same time, barbeques are set up, live music begins on stage and people from all over Belgium start flooding in.
Venue : 62, Rue de Condé, 7971 Basecles
The second event we recommend is the POPERINGE HOP AND BEER FESTIVAL, and its usually held around mid-September.
To this day the exact dates are not yet defined so do please make sure to check their website in the following months.Poperinge is Belgium’s hop fields. Many hop growers are located there together with some of the breweries best beers including the Abbey of Westvleren and Saint Bernardus.
Local minor brands like hop farm breweries De Plukkler and Struise are highly recommended. The Poperinge hop and beer festival kicks off with a visit to the local Hop Museum, hop farms visits and a tour of all breweries located in the area. At night the festivities are continued with local foods and shows mostly depicting the area’s rich historical anecdotes.
Venue : Poperinge main square
BRASSIGAUME will be hosting its 5th event this year. The precise date is not yet defined but do make sure to check their website. In our opinion this is the BEST craft beer festival in Belgium, by far. The vast Belgian region of Gaume, located in the Ardennes has a very specific climate due to its surrounding hills. Some have also made similarities to a Mediterranean climate. This does have an impact on raw ingredients used by brewers, including the quality of the water, malts and yeast (most brewers in the region use yeast from Orval abbey).
The beers produced here are comparable to no other place in Belgium. A finite equilibrium between the elements, just like a very nice and balanced wine: an honest explosion of tastes from the very first sips.
Venue : Rue des Prés 11, 6724 Marbehan
Late in 2018
As the cold period approaches, it becomes increasingly hard to host open air or larger events. There are nonetheless, good Christmas events such as the KERSTBIERFESTIVAL held around mid-December in Essen (http://www.kerstbierfestival.be/) and the VINI, BIRRE, RIBELLI held in November in Brussels.
You can certainly go to all those festival OR you can subscribe to our Belgian beer club and discover every month ONE Belgian brewer through its beers. The best part? It’s delivered to straight to your home!
BELGIBEER only works with craft brewers every month and NEVER mainstream ones. Discover the monthly offer by clicking here : https://belgibeer.com/
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