09 July 2016

Antwerp - 3 - Beer Passion Weekend 2016

BierPassie Weekend programme
The 17th BierPassie Weekend was held in Groenplaats, Antwerp on 24/25 & 26 June 2016.
Richard, Andrew, Simon, Keith & Mark - BierPassie Weekend XVII
This was my first visit to the beer festival but most of the others in our group of seven had been visiting Antwerp for the last fifteen years or so.

Friday 24 June, 2016

Simonsstraat, Antwerp - near Plantin Premetro station
Arriving on the day of a general strike meant that we walked from the Tryp hotel to Groenplaats as very few trams were running.
Sint-Jorispoort - between Nationale Bank and Mechelseplein tram stops
We didn't follow the most direct route but did get to see the triangular Stadspark between Simonstraat and Sint-Jorispoort.
We also passed the Maagdenhuis Museum which is housed on the ground floor of a former orphanage for girls. The collection includes paintings from the 15th to 17th centuries.
section of KBC Tower (Boerentoren)
Now we could see the KBC Tower (Boerentoren), once the tallest skyscraper in Europe, standing just east of Groenplaats and knew we would soon reach the beer festival.
Layout of bars etc
Before we could buy a beer we went to the Beer Passion shop in the marquee and collected a programme and bought a Belgian Beer Sommelier tasting glass (5 euros) and a stock of jetons / tokens (2 euros each) to use at the bars.
A glass of Cornet, from the closest bar to the shop (1 - Brouwerij De Hoorn) would be my first beer of the festival and one to recommend to the others.

Now we could find a table to sit at with a view of the Cathedral of Our Lady.
Our table was near the Belgian Beer Sommelier bar (18) and the programme mentions that a 75cl bottle of beer could be purchased for 4 jetons so we split a bottle of Buffalo Bitter (Brouwerij Van Den Bossche).
Dixieland Street Band
At 7pm, the Dixieland Street Band passed by our table playing traditional New Orleans jazz music.
We would taste a few more beers including Ben's Belgian White (brewed to the specification of Ben Vinken - Beer Sommelier and organiser of BierPassie Weekend).
The sun was setting by the time we left the festival to find a table inside at Cafe Kulminator.
Later we would sit outside Cafe ZeeZicht in Dageraadplaats after midnight for a final beer before a short walk back to our hotel.

Saturday 25 June, 2016

Johan Van Dyck - Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie
A lunchtime visit to Brasserie Aura and an introduction to Seef bier and Bootjes bier from  Anterwerpse Brouw Compagnie is described in my previous Antwerp - 2 - Seef bier blog post.
One of my first beers of the afternoon was Barbar Blonde from the Brouwerij Lefebvre bar (13).

It would soon be time to take shelter in the Beer Sommelier Bar after grey skies threatened a sudden downpour.
From this sheltered table I could enjoy my 20 cl glass of Kriek Max (6 - Brouwerij Omer Vander Ghinste) with a fruity cherry flavour. Once the rain had stopped we headed towards the river Scheldt and turned left for Best Beer Cafe (BBC) where Tripel Karmeliet (Brouwerij Bosteels) is available on draught and the Euro 2016 football match between Wales and Northern Ireland was showing on TV. Later we would visit De Groote Witte Arend (the Great White Eagle) beer restaurant.

Sunday 26 June, 2016

Hotel Tryp - reception area
Before leaving the hotel on Sunday morning, I asked Keith Moore from our group some questions about the hobbybrauer / homebrewing prize he won at the first CraftBeerMesse in Mainz. Keith lives in Langen, near Frankfurt airport and brewed a Black IPA for the craft beer festival. His winning beer was based on a recipe he found on the internet for a Cascadian dark ale. In September 2016, he will supervise the brewing of about 950 litres of a version of this beer at Rheinhessen Brau, Mainz-Ebersheim. He will receive 50 litres as his prize and the remainder will be on sale at the second CraftBeerMesse in Mainz (25/26 November 2016).
Cafe Pelikaan
Our group took the #11 tram to Melkmarkt, passing Cafe Pelikaan on the short walk from Groenplaats. We initially settled at a table without an umbrella but as grey clouds approached and the rain started we moved to another table with an umbrella over it.
For my first beer on Sunday I chose a Mongozo Mango (3.6% ABV) fruit beer, brewed in the Netherlands.
Marco de Rango at the B.O.M. Brewery bar
Keith Moore and I visited the B.O.M. Brewery bar (8 - Belgian Original Malt Bakery and Brewery) with beers brewed by Bert Van Hecke using malts he has baked or roasted. We talked to Marco de Rango (Hopsessed) about the beers. Marco said 'our beer's not OK - it's perfect!'. I ordered a draught Triporteur from Heaven (6.2% ABV) and Keith chose a Full Moon 12 'a hell of a 12 with Belgian Oak roasted at full moon' served from a bottle. The oak flavours are obtained by adding oak chips roasted at the bakery. Keith selected Full Moon 12 as his favourite dark beer of the BeerPassie Weekend.
My next beer was Wild Jo (5.8% ABV) brewed in Antwerp by De Koninck and served from a bottle. The 'Wild' refers to the wild yeasts used to ferment it and the 'Jo' refers to Joseph van den Bogaert 'whose own lust for adventure ensured the survival of the brewery after WWI'. This was one of my favourite beers from the festival. See also my earlier blog post Antwerp - 1 - De Koninck about the traditional De Koninck beer served in a Bolleke glass.
L>R: John, Andrew, Keith, Mark and Richard
Returning to our table, I found the table had been moved closer to the umbrella pole to provide maximum cover from the heavy rain.
I was keen to have a word with Ben Vinken on the last day of the festival so visited the Bier Sommelier bar and ordered a glass of Ben's Belgian Saison. As there was not enough for a further serving from the bottle afterwards, Ben generously let me keep the remaining contents of the bottle for my group to sample.
Beer Sommelier Ben Vinken (left)
2 jetons (4 euros) is the usual charge for a portion of cheese at the Beer Sommelier bar but Ben kindly gave me a small portion of Vieux Chimay, the darker cheese to accompany my glass of Ben's Belgian Saison. The other cheeses were Westmalle and Belle Dalle. Ben Vinken and Michel van Tricht have published a book Bier & Kaas (Beer & Cheese) in several languages which suggests 50 top Belgian beers paired with appropriate cheeses. Ben explained that his bottled beers, like Ben's Special Belge, are brewed to his specifications by Brouwerij Anders.
When I returned to our table and asked for suggestions for a beer to try, there was much support for the draught Corsendonk Dubbel Kriek so I took their advice! This was a beer to savour and later selected by Keith, Mark and Richard as their favourite lambic or kriek at the beer festival.
By now we had worked up a good appetite and it was time for a visit to Huisbrouwerij 't Pakhuis for some lunch to go with beer brewed on the premises. After lunch we returned to the hotel to collect our luggage before catching the train to Brussels for a night before returning to London by Eurostar on Monday evening after visits to some of our favourite beer bars.
I look forward to returning to Antwerp in 2017 for BeerPassie Weekend XVIII. Cheers!

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