I’ll be in Belgium soon. It has been a full year since last visiting and, a year ago, the Belgium trip accelerated my interest and passion for beer. My eyes were opened to a new world full of thousands of breweries with some beers being a recipe as old as the US Constitution. I’ve been planning my 2nd trip for a week and finally have solid dates so it’s good to start planning the various events and activities.
The reason for this trip is strictly business but, outside of working hours, there are things I’d like to do related to beer.
- I arrive in Amsterdam via Boston on Thursday morning (May 24th). I’ll have the day to check into a hotel and see the city. This is the 4th time I’ve been to Amsterdam so I’ve done sight seeing. I’ll be meeting up with some iOS developers and seeing a few of the “Best Bars in Amsterdam“. There are a few on this list I’d love to visit. While in Amsterdam, there are many Dutch beers on my list to try. Here are the top 50 Dutch beers from RateBeer.
- I’ll take a train from Amsterdam to Gent where my hotel is. On the way, my train always makes a stop in Antwerpen. This city is home to one of the most famous “geek’s” beer bar in the world. For the tourists, Brussels has The Delirium Cafe which is popular among Americans but, for beer geeks, The Kulminator is much better. This husband and wife team have been storing / cellaring beers for 30 years and their bar is now in two different locations due to the size of their bar. Want newer beers, prices are fair. Want rare 20 year old Lambics? You’ll pay more but you get what you pay for. Their cellar is open to browse through and you can spend all day sampling rare and old beers. I’ll be stopping here in my way to Gent to enjoy some tasty beers. Check out the Kulminator Facebook page for some great “beer porn”.
- On Saturday the 26th and Sunday the 27th, there is a small beer festival. The Opstalse Bierpallieters are hosting their 21st Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation in Buggenhout, Belgium. Dozens of Lambic breweries will be there and you pay per pour. I’ll be going there with a few co-workers. It should be a great time!
- In Ghent, there is a beer store known as De Hopduvel. I have been speaking with a man the works there via Email. He has agreed to begin setting aside beers for me that arrive from 3F and Cantillon along with others. Even in Belgium, popular Lambic styles are still quick to sell out so it’s nice that a beer store will start setting aside boxes for me of things that usually run out for my purchase. The odds of finding things all in that one week is difficult so this should make things easier.
- At some point, my colleague in Gent has arranged and scheduled our visit to Trappist Westvleteren which is one of 7 Trappist breweries in the world. Trappist ales are popular among beer lovers but all are accessible in stores most days. The are all very similar but each has it’s fans and those that are fanatical about that brewery. I have 6 of the breweries accounted for in my cellar. The one that is not distributed and only for sale at the brewery is Westvleteren (also known as Westy). You can buy it online for a 5-10x markup but I won’t pay those prices. I’m going to buy a case while there. Case prices are 39 Euros for 24 bottles. In America, a bottle runs $20-$50 which is ridiculous and the monastery forbids the beers being sold commercially but people still do it. We have our 2 cases reserved for my friend and I and will be going to pick up those while there.
- Following my time in Gent for work, I’ll be staying in Brussels for a few days and visiting two breweries. The first is Cantillon where you can sample their beers and buy bottles on premises as well as partake in a tour. The 3 Fonteinen is another Lambic brewery outside of the city limits. Both are beers that, once again, sell online but are hard to find in America. You’ll pay 5-10 times more than at the brewery for bottles. I’ll be buying some beers there and trying many that I can’t get in the states.
- Finally, I’m going to try to stop by some beer stores like Beer Mania. I’d like to try and locate cheap off the shelf beers that I’ve never had and can’t get in the US.
- I have a friend who has offered to pack and ship all of the beers to me I can’t carry. It sounds like a lot but I’m only picking up a few things here and there so just two boxes and a few in my checked luggage for the flight home.
These are just some random plans. Of course, there are other things I’ll be adding to this list but, I’d say this beer-cation is going to be a TON of fun! If you have more input, let me know.