Belgium Beer books news & updates December 22 2014, 0 Comments

Good Beer Guide Belgium

Some long-established Belgian family breweries have caught an odd contagion lately: They have been changing their names to reflect belief in the past and the future.  Bavik recently became De Brabandere, re-adopting the name of the family whose fourth generation now runs the brewery and increasingly looking abroad for respect and sales -- in keeping with the export success of its oak-aged Petrus beers.  Likewise, Bockor became Omer Vander Ghinste, returning to a name abandoned in 1977, even while interest in half-wild Cuvée des Jacobins rises at home and abroad.  We are nearly convinced now that Van Eecke's sibling Leroy is officially going by Het Sas now, but we're less clear on why.  More subtle but less conservative, Palm Breweries became Palm Craft Brewing, making a statement by inserting the trendy Anglo-American word for ambachtelijke. We note these for reference while continuing to judge the substance over the style.

In Limburg, we note the sudden outbreak of Bierpunts.  We are not 100% clear on the business model, but we know these are individually owned cafés that share a concept, a name, and at least 250 beers each.  In a year they have gone from zero to at least five cafés in existence or planning stages: in Diepenbeek, Genk, Hasselt, Herk-de-Stad and Maaseik.  We watch with interest and would not be surprised to see one pop up in Antwerp or Brussels.  Contact details available at bierpunt.de and by searching usual social media.

Around Brussels in 80 Beers - new edition

Cogan & Mater plan a second edition for spring, and it will be even better than the first.  This is not only because we are really getting the hang of this, but also because of a marked rise in quality options for interesting beer in Brussels.

Briefly, here are the shuttered or otherwise defunct entries from the first edition: Brasseurs de la Grand Place, Caravan, Chapeau d'As, Galia Hotel, Gougoutte à Pépé, Imprimerie, Postiers, Skieven Architek, Stekerlapatte, Stella Solaris and Terra Incognita.

But never mind them.  Many more entries from the first edition are still humming along nicely -- yet we are edging them out for even stronger candidates.  Meanwhile many of the classic institutions are going strong as ever, or stronger, but with new stories to tell.

There was was once doubt, but the  rising interest in characterful drink has not left Brussels behind -- neither in the touristic centre nor in the neighbourhoods where people actually live.  Once we complained about upmarket restaurants in 'Beer Paradise' ignoring beer altogether -- and that is still the rule, not the exception -- but there is a measurable uptick in chef-driven kitchens offering entertaining beers to go with entertaining dishes.  To name a couple: the Buvette in Saint-Gilles and the Brigittines near Chapelle station, on the Marolles outskirts.  But those are only scratching the surface.

For the first edition we struggled to find 80 locations with enough atmosphere and interesting beer.  For this edition we have struggled to choose which 80 to include.  Aiming to be as useful to you as possible, we are adding a section of Other Places to Explore -- thus preserving our gimmick but suggesting more ways to get the most from wherever you happen to be.

We promise happy surprises.