The day started with lunch at Café Leffe, Place du Grand Sablon, 46, a scenic café on rue de Rollebeek that would become a favorite of the Brew Sherpas. The food was outstanding, exceptional even by world class standards, and with a Leffe Tripel, a great value for both the taste buds and the wallet.
The Belgian Beer Weekend festival is held in the picturesque Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium. It is a beautiful cobblestoned square with magnificent and breathtaking ornate gothic buildings surrounding the square. Tents with temporary bars were set up in the middle of the square and these tents were enclosed from the square with a hop-adorned barrier, filling the air with the smell of fresh hops. A yellow token was purchased for 2€, and crown corks (bottlecaps) were purchased for 1€ each. The yellow token allowed the use of each brewery’s special glassware and the crown corks served as tender for the beer, ranging from 3 corks to 5 corks for the really big beers. While crowded, the area provided tables for attendees to enjoy their beer, and the informational pamphlet provided an area for tasting notes. Rest assured, there was no shortage of international beer geeks or beer nerds here!
The first beers the Brew Sherpas enjoyed were St. Feuillien, an old brewery that is a true Belgian classic and treasure. The brewery is just now starting another foray into US export, so hopefully we will soon see this fantastic beer on our shores. As we finished our beer and returned our glass to get our yellow token back, we next visited the tent of Malheur, another popular Belgian Brewery. I had the Tripel Black and the Brew Sherpette enjoyed the Malheur Blonde-10. Both were exceptional in every way and carried that distinct fruity Belgian yeast flavor. The added sweetness of the Tripel Black made for an interesting and complex beer. Next up was the Trappistes tent, perhaps the most crowded tent of all the festival. All six Trappist Breweries were represented and I ordered a Westmalle Dubel and a Westmalle Tripel for the Brew Sherpette. We have had this beer several times in the states, but never quite like this. When at a festival of truly World Class beers, when you have one that is exceptional even in this crowd, it becomes less about the actual taste and more about the experience. It would be impossible to separate the taste of our Westmalle beers from the visually stunning surroundings of the Grote Markt in enchanting Brussels, Belgium, not that I would want to. Suffice to say, the Westmalle beers left the Brew Sherpa speechless. Our next stop was to try the Ter Dolen Tripel and the Ter Dolen Kriek brewed by Brouwerij Sint Jozef. While the Tripel was outstanding, there was really nothing to make is stand out from the rest of the fantastic tripels, which is the majesty of Belgium – THERE ARE NO BAD BEERS!!! Well, that is almost true….but for the Cookie Beer, which represents one of the more difficult beers to understand. The Kriek was also very tasty, very sweet with so much cherry flavor that it is hard to believe it is not artificially flavored. The Brew Sherpa finished the first night of the Belgian Beer Weekend with perhaps the best “new-find” of the trip thus far, Abbaye des Rocs. With strong notes of cut grass, almost like a pilsner, it complemented the strong fruity Belgian yeast wonderfully. Again, it is difficult to separate the beer taste with the majestic background of the Grote Markt, but the experience made for a beautiful symphony taste and experience.
Dinner for the evening was Parma pizza and an Italian appetizer at a quaint little Italian restaurant called Taverne L’Altro, located at Rue Gretry 46, with plenty of Duvel to complement the food. Ambiance was provided by an elderly gentleman serenading us with Italian folk songs. The thought to order wine with dinner crossed our minds, but once we tasted the Duvel and Parma pizza together, there was no doubt that we made the right choice. The cheese on the pizza made the Duvel stand out, or maybe the Duvel beer made the cheese on the pizza stand out, but either way the pairing was excellent.
Before walking home, we trekked by the Delirium Cafe in hopes of listening to some more live music, but were saddened to find out that live music is only on the Thursday night Jam Sessions. Since it was Friday night, the Delirium was wall to wall with beer drinkers of all types, bringing the ambient temperature in the building up to around 3,000°F, so the Brew Sherpa and Brew Sherpette slugged down their Delirium Tremens and called it a night.