13 July 2017

Belgian Beer Trip 2017 - Day 3

The 18th Antwerp Beer Passion / Bierpassie Weekend opened at 5pm on Friday 23 June, 2017.
Sint Andries stroll
After breakfast, with seven hours until the festival opens, Dave / Bod and I set off from Bogaardestraat for Antwerp's Museum of Contemporary Art, M HKA. We headed south west, towards the Sint Andries neighbourhood.
We passed a building featuring interesting brickwork and an art nouveau style balcony at the angled corner of Waalse Kaai and Timmerwerfstraat.
We arrived too early for the museum opening at 11am so sat at a table outside Nick's cafe, Waalse Kaai, and ordered a coffee, which was kindly served before their usual opening time. This is a plesant spot with a wide cobbled street lined by trees and the bonus of a classic blue Renault van parked nearby.
The main museum entrance leads into a large room lined with shelves for books and displays including old camera and film related items.
A long table with assorted chairs allows further study of the large format catalogue and other books at leisure.
We ventured further inside to the free section of the museum where 'Olympia' a film of the Berlin Olympic stadium by David Claerbout proved fascinating. Software imitates a camera, moving at a constant slow speed, recording the view of the stadium's exterior and grounds during elevated circumnavigations.
There are two approaches to M HKAFE, the rooftop cafe bar, either by lift, for museum visitors who have paid for admission or from a separate external entrance and several flights of stairs, in our case.
I enjoyed a glass of De Koninck 'Wild Jo' from the bar and we sat outside in the sunshine. A 33cl bottle of this fresh tasting beer cost 4 euros. The bottled beer is fermented with wild yeasts and is named after Joseph van den Bogaert, who ensured the survival of the brewery after WW1.
Seating is also available in a greenhouse but we guessed it would be far too hot in there! An untitled Keith Haring mural painted in 1987 adorns the interior of the M HKAFE. An inspiration for the mural was the work of Tanzania born artist George Lilanga.
Although it was closed for renovation, we passed Antwerp's main art gallery, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts on the way back to the city centre.
Howevere, some sculptures remain on display outside the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. 
Our next stop was at Coffee and Vinyl, Volkstraat 45, where the presence of a red De Koninck caravan outside indicated that beer was also available.
We had a look around the shop which has a huge selection of vinyl records with art displayed on the walls. The Temple of I and I by Thievery Corporation was one of the music tracks played on the sound system.
There were various bottles of beer in a fridge behind the counter and it was nice to be able to sit at the front of the store with a glass of chilled Duvel Tripel Hop Citra (9.5% ABV). Since 2007, Duvel have innovated by introducing a third hop to the Saaz-Saaz and Styrian Golding hops. From a contest in 2016, Citra was chosen as the permanent third hop in preference to Mosaic, Amarillo, Sorachi Ace, Equinox and HBC291. The Citra hop from the Yakima Valley, Washington, is also used at the dry hopping stage.
Before leaving, a trial of the Wild Jo electrical test of hand coordination skills, with a bottle opener as a ring, proved irresistible. My skills were found to be limited, I blame the effect of the strong beer!
Across the road at Volkstraat 40 stands the ornately decorated Rudolf Steiner School building.
Shortly before reaching Groenplaats, the site of the Beer Passion Weekend festival, we walked down Korte Gasthuisstraat and passed an older building signed as Goossens. Antwerp certainly has a lot of interesting buildings sandwiched between less interesting examples. 

Bierpassie Weekend XVIII - Friday opening
By now it was 5pm and the beer festival had started so it was time to pay 5 euros for a tasting glass and programme and buy some 20cl beer tokens at 2 euro each. We exchanged our first tokens at the Delirium bar with Dave choosing Mongozo Banana while my choice was Mongozo Mango
At the bar, Martin spotted my Danske Ølentusiaster (Danish beer enthusiasts) cap, a gift from my Danish brother-in-law. With a Danish parent himself, Martin was probably better qualified to wear my cap!
Boulevard Brewing Co Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale was spotted on draught at the Duvel Moortgat bar. My first bottle of this beer proved delicious in 2016 and the draught version was also refreshingly compatible. Tank 7 was a rare example of a non-Belgian beer on sale at the festival.
Keith, John and Andrew (the latter two wearing festival t-shirts from previous years) arrived at the festival to join our table.
Keith Moore lives in Langen, near Frankfurt airport. He kindly shared out a large bottle of the Black IPA, brewed under his supervision at Rheinhessen Brau, Mainz-Ebersheim, for the second CraftBeerMesse in Mainz in November 2016.
The extra label tag for the bottle gives details of the hops used. Cheers Keith!
Leffe blonde is easily obtainable in the UK but there was an opportunity to taste Leffe Royale, hopped with Cascade, from the high counter of the Leffe bar. A further bonus was two sticks of cheese to go with it. Leffe Royale (7.5% ABV) is also available with hops from Australia (Ella), Argentina (Mapuche) and England (Whitbread Golding).
We had been sharing our table with a friendly Belgian couple and when it was time for them to go they agreed to pose with a spare copy of Ullage, the West Berkshire CAMRA magazine, for later perusal.
L to R: John, Mark, Keith, Simon, Dave / Bod, Andrew & Richard
Now there was space for our group of eight to sit down on the table.
Musical entertainment was provided by a jazz band who stopped to perform at various points around the festival. 
My last beer at the festival's first day was Waterloo Recolte. This seasonal beer is brewed at the Mont-Saint-Jean farm, the 'English hospital' of the battle of Waterloo. The Belgian Beer Tourism website describes the 6% ABV summer beer as falling between a white beer and a blonde. The brand has the tagline 'The Beer of Bravery!'.

An Orval nightcap
However, this would not be my last beer of the night as Mark, Dave, Simon and I returned to the hostel bar for a beer before it closed at 1am. Here it was possible to enjoy a 33cl bottle of Orval with its distinctive fruity and bitter taste, for 3 euros after Hostelling International discount applied.  

Twitter links:
@m_hka Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen - Musée d'Art Contemporain d'Anvers - Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp

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