Though I’m not in the industry professionally, craft beer runs through my DNA. My Philly Loves Beer 2018 Belgium Trip!
I joined the Philly Loves Beer (now Philly Beer Week) board in 2015. Though I’m not in the industry professionally, craft beer runs through my DNA. My Dad opened one of the first stores to sell mixed craft beer six-packs (Terry’s Deli, Havertown in the 90s) and I have been volunteering with Philly Loves Beer since the very first Opening Tap. Last year, I decided that it was finally time to join the Collaborative Beer trip to Belgium to brew the beer we drink during Philly Beer Week. I was hoping that this trip would be a wonderful opportunity to discover and indulge my love of Everything Beer. I was not disappointed.
Before you hear about the 2018 Belgium trip, you should immediately buy your raffle tickets to join us for the 2019 Philly Beer Week Collaboration Beer with Duvel now. The winner and local brewery will be announced at the raffle drawing event on November 15 at City Tap House Logan (though you do not need to be present to win).
Back to the 2018 trip. I met the crew in Brussels at Moeder Lambic, a craft beer bar conveniently (like out the back door of the hotel convenient) for a beer before our first brewery visit to the Cantillon Brewery. The beer list was unbelievable, and right then and there, I had a crucial decision to make- do I order beers I know can get back in Philly or do I try new beers that I may never get to drink again? The answer was: Yes.
I can easily wax on and on about all of the amazing things I experienced and learned during this trip. But since there is limited space, I am only including highlights from each brewery visit. I would be happy to further discuss any one of these incredible and exclusive brewery tours in more detail. Hit me up at the raffle drawing on November 15 at City Tap House Logan.
Brewery Visit 1: Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon
Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon is a small traditional family brewery based in Brussels. Founded in 1900 exclusively brews Lambic beers. Since they employ spontaneous fermentation, it is produced by exposure to the wild yeasts and bacteria of the environment- we were warned not to touch anything (walls, ceiling, etc.) so as not to influence the flavor.
Favorite Beer: Rosé de Gambrinus
Brewery Visit 2: Boon Brouwerij
Boon Brouwerij, produces Geuze and Kriek beer of a fairly traditional Lambic variety, but uses distinctly modern brewing techniques and equipment. Frank, the father, started out in 1975 by traveling to small breweries and buying their Lambics, blending them in his cellar and selling them to stores elsewhere. All of their beers are aged in foeders (large wooden barrel), the older the better. Boon’s oldest barrel is 135 years old and used exclusively for Lambic. Frank is also known as the “Foeder Whisperer” and can fix any foeder in exchange for rare and aged beers.
Favorite Beer: Gueze Boon, Vat 92, Mono Blend
Brewery Visit 3: Brouwerji De Brabandere
Brouwerji De Brabandere was our partner for 2018 collaboration beer. It was a fantastic day and the best way for you to experience it fully is to read Bryan Selders’ (Dogfsh Head brewer) blog. If reading that blog does not get you totally psyched to be part of this trip, then you should probably not buy any raffle tickets. However, for the other 99.999999% people who are enjoy nerding out on Belgian beer, I will see you on November 15th at City Tap House for the raffle.
Favorite Beer: Petrus Aged Red
Brewery Visit 4: Van Steenberge
Van Steenberge brewery is a 6th generation-run, continually-operated brewery founded in 1784. This brewery is the only other Belgian brewery that does a second fermentation on their beer, like Chimay. And if you have never heard of them, you may have tasted their beer at Monk’s, since they make Monk’s Sour Ale. Enjoying the owner’s stories while drinking Monk’s Grand Cru Flemish Ale was indeed an experience I will never forget.
Favorite Beer (besides Monk’s Grand Cru): Gulden Draak
It was an incredible whirlwind tour and you should be part of it this year. Do not miss your chance (1 for $5 or 5 for $20) to experience a trip of a lifetime. I can only imagine the beers you will drink and the stories you will hear while brewing at Duvel in 2019. I look forward to cheering you at Opening Tap with the 2019 collaboration Philly Loves Beer collaboration beer.
-by Sheila Ballen