When it comes to Belgian beers, those made in the country’s abbeys are almost certainly the best known. Ask the average passer-by what they know about Belgian beer, and they’ll probably talk about strong beers made by monks. While many of the abbey beers have been around for years, one has popped up in the recent past – Zundert.
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.
One of the main things I was looking forward to at the European Beer Bloggers conference was the chance to try some interesting things I wouldn’t otherwise find. The Sam Adams Utopias ticked that box early and the Toccalmatto beers carried on the theme, but the dinner at the end of the first day held a surprise for me – a pair of beers from Pilsner Urquell.
I’m not enough of a beer snob to eschew all forms of mass produced yellow fizzy beer, but I’ve not really gone near Pilsner Urquell. Jeff, landlord of The Gunmakers, sings its praises and I’ve been meaning to give it a try over my regular Polish tins, but I didn’t get a chance until #EBBC13. It was a different chance to that which I was expecting, presenting both the regular lager as well as an unfiltered version. Poured from a wooden cask…
When preparing to go to The European Beer Bloggers conference I did a bit of research into who else was going. Helpfully the folks at #EBBC13 put up a list of attendees and one thing immediately struck me – there were a lot of brewery folks going. Along with big names like Garrett Oliver there were a number of folks whose names I didn’t know who made beers I like, and a bunch of breweries I’d not even heard of. During the opening pub crawl by chance I got talking to one of the folks from the latter category who, if I’d made a list, would have been someone I’d have sought out – Bruno Carilli, the founder of Birra Toccalmatto.
Of all the tasty beers I got to try at the European Beer Bloggers Conference this year, there’s one that stood out for a variety of reasons. Foolishly, it was also the first beer that I tried at the conference and it presented a hard act to follow in both flavour and craziness of production – the barrel aged Sam Adams Utopias 2012.
I’ve written a little bit about Harviestoun, and specifically their whisky cask aged Ola Dubh, before, but as head brewer Stuart Cail presented a session covering the beer in much more detail at The European Beer Bloggers Conference it seemed rude not to follow up my previous post with some information from the source. With cask ageing very much now in evidence across many of the young craft breweries, it’s interesting to see what a more traditional brewer has done with the idea, and the impact that they’ve had across the British brewing scene.
One of the great things about the European Beer Bloggers Conference was that despite its presence in the UK for the third year in a row, there was definite representation from all over Europe. While much of the continent is known for its yellow fizzy beer, more interesting beer is starting to make itself better known and one of the people leading that charge in Poland is Tomasz Kopyra.
#EBBC13 – The 3rd European Beer Bloggers conference, and the first one that I’ve attended. From the first in London (which I missed despite living down the road) and the second in Leeds (which I found out about a week before it happened) they’ve now moved up to Edinburgh, where I am now currently sitting in an overly warm basement hotel room with a tram track being built outside. They started at 5:30am.
The EBBC does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a conference for Beer Bloggers and is held in Europe. To start things off we had a pub crawl around some of the more beer focused bars of the Old Town, put together by Chris from the Edinburgh Craft Brew Co and Rich from The Beercast – both locals who know a decent pint. Or smaller measure where appropriate.