The History, Present and Future of Brewing in Belgium – #EBBC15

EBBC15

Beer is an important part of life in Belgium. While its popularity may have fallen in recent years, they still brew 18 million hectolitres per year, about 1% of production in the world. While that may not sound like a huge amount, Belgium isn’t a huge country, with only 11 million inhabitants, and this is about ten times its ‘demographic weight’ – a lot more beer per person than you might expect when comparing them to other countries. They may export 11 million hectolitres, more than 60% of their production, but that still leaves 64 litres of beer each per year, an impressive amount – 2 pints of beer a week for every person in the country, even more than we drink in the UK.
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De Plukker – #EBBC15

De Plukker

Belgium is a country thick with beer tradition and history. While that leads to an impression of rows of noble old breweries and ivy-covered abbeys, the situation on the ground is quite different. After the main weekend of the European Beer Bloggers Conference, I went on a tour around West Flanders with the folks from Visit Flanders. We toured five breweries, each very different and showing a different side of modern Belgian brewing. First up De Plukker – The Picker.

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Live Beer Blogging – #EBBC15

EBBC15

I’m in Brussels at the moment for the 2015 instalment of the European Beer Bloggers Conference – #EBBC15. There will be more posts to follow, but the end of the first day (shortly before the original posting of this) saw this year’s live beer blogging session – twelve brewers, each with a beer and five minutes to present it. The bloggers listen, drink and then blog about it. Some are doing it live. I’m not. Here’s my attempt – posted immediately after the session, then proof-read at 3am, then updated with pictures the next day.

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Bristol Beer Factory Wheat Wine

Bristol Beer Factory Wheat Wine

I was sat at The Rake a while ago, interviewing one of the guys who works there about the meaning of ‘craft’ in the beer world. A discussion of his answers is for another time, but one thing he said struck me in relation to today’s post: he wanted craft beer to target ‘the adventurous; the curious; the open-minded.’ I arrived home and opened a bottle that to me epitomises this, the unflashily named Bristol Beer Factory Wheat Wine.

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Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose

Tom Yum Gose

From time to time, when exploring the world of booze, you come across something that should not exist. While most of the time the initial reaction of horror is entirely justified, on rare occasions that first impression is wrong. Being the type of drinker that I am, I delight in both the things-that-should-not-be and the excellent exceptions, and recently I stumbled upon one of the latter. It’s not often that a drink so comprehensively worms it way into my subconcious, but on a recent trip to Bristol, one did – Wild Beer Tom Yum Gose.

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BrewDog Pilot Brew 008 – Whiskey Sour

Equity for Punks IV

BrewDog are at it again. After three scarily successful rounds of crowdfunding, two of which I’ve pitched in to, they’ve decided to go again, with Equity for Punks IV now live. To announce it, they put on an event at their Shepherds Bush bar, with an evening of founders James Watt and Martin Dickie, beer, new product announcements and BrewDog fans cheering ‘Breeeewdooog, Breeeewdoooog’ every time there was a lull. They also had a special beer on tap, made at the pilot plant at their Ellon brewery: BrewDog Pilot Brew 008 – Whiskey Sour.

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Amigos Black

Amigos Black

Over the years, my fascination with alcopops has slowly died. I’ve managed to stop looking at them in the supermarket, and they are usually corralled away from the proper drinks, helping me to avoid the memory of their existence. Unfortunately, they are increasingly encroaching on the beer shelves, from their initial beachhead in cider-land – I’m looking at you Kopparberg – and they occasional impinge on my consciousness. As such, I bring you another instalment of ‘I drink these things so you don’t have to’, featuring Amigos Black, Tequila and açai berry flavoured beer.

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BrewDog Paradox Compass Box

Paradox Compass Box

It’s not a revelation to anyone who’s visited my house that I have a thing about some of BrewDog’s beers. If you are a long-term reader of this blog (hi mum!), you will probably realise this too, even if in more recent times I’ve not said much about them. Unfortunately this is a sign of their success, as they’ve become more ubiquitous and part of the establishment – the kind of thing that new-thing-loving bloggers like myself drink more than write about. However, they recently sent me a bottle of beer, so it’d be rude not to say a word or two about it, especially as I’ve already picked up a couple of bottles of it for my stash. The beer in question: Paradox Compass Box.

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Taruškų Kanapinis Alus – Cannabis Beer

Taruškų Kanapinis

When it comes to the beers of Europe, we’re getting better at importing them into the UK. One spot that I’ve only seen a few beers from is Lithuania, and I only saw those in one shop around the corner from a flat I lived in many years ago – the shop changed hands a number of times, and the Lithuanian beer disappeared close to a decade ago. I popped in the other day to see what part of the world they were now focusing on, and it was all about the Baltic again: they had the entire Baltika range and a few Lithuanian beers, including a pair from Taruškų alaus bravoras, the Taruškų beer brewery: Kanapinis Šviesus and Tamsus Alus, Cannabis Light and Dark Beers.

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