Books About Beer Blog

Around in 80 Beers Series January 29 2016, 0 Comments

The Around in 80 Beers series is edited by Tim Webb and first appeared in 2006. Using a listing of 80 cafes, restaurants, beer shops, museums, cinemas, whatever... each serving a different top quality beer, the books introduce readers to the underbelly of some of Europe’s best beer-drinking cities and how to get the very best out of their different beer cultures. History, context, pub snacks, tram stops… you name it, we do it. With some damn fine writing to boot.

To date the series has covered LondonAmsterdam, Brussels, Berlin and Bruges, with a new edition of Around Berlin in 80 Beers planned for later this year, along with a new European capital – to be announced.

Belgian Brewery Palm Sells Less Beer July 19 2015, 0 Comments

Further evidence that the boring beer sector is condensing, this time from Belgium.  Pushed on taste by the emerging craft brewers' ability to entertain those who prefer their beer to be entertaining and pushed on price by the bulk producers ability to undercut for those who don't, brewers like Palm are starting to learn the hard way that they will have to go more daring in their products.

From: De Standaard 16 July 2015

Palm Sells Less Beer

Palm Brewery is struggling, especially with the declining popularity of the eponymous brand. For the third consecutive year the company from Steenhuffel has made a loss. New beers and higher exports are hoped to turn the tide.

This year, the loss has increased to €1,3 million, writes the entrepreneurs madeinbrabant website.

Palm Breweries is highly active in the segment of thirst-quenching beers: white and amber beers of the same brand and specialty beers such as Rodenbach or Oude Geuze Boon. In this segment of thirst-quenching beers sales dropped back to 308 988 hectoliters, less than half a decade ago.

For the third year running Palm is looking at a loss, from €392,000 in 2013 to more than three times that a year later on a turnover that decreased in 2014 by 0.5% to €52,5 million.

Palm wants to reverse the downward spiral by getting exports back on track. In terms of export Palm is down after ten years of limited results, while the Belgian competitors thrive in those markets. The brewery now goes for France and China.

A second remedy is the market of special beers, which are still growing. The proportion of the heavier beers like Rodenbach Grand Cru, Cornet and Steenbrugge Tripel in the total volume climbed by 7% in 2013 to an estimated 18% this year. This increase, however, does not compensate for the decline of the Palm brand, still the most sold in volume.


Italian beer Tre Fontane recognized as Trappist May 12 2015, 0 Comments

Translated from De Standaard, May 11, 2015
(Belgian national newspaper)

In early May the beer Tre Fontane was officially recognized as an ‘Authentic Trappist Product’, the Internationale Vereniging Trappist (International Trappist Association) (IVT) reported on Monday.

Tre Fontane, the eponymous abbey in Rome, is the eleventh official Trappist beer in the world and the first Italian beer that gets the honor.

As well as beer, the Abbey Tre Fontane also produces olive oil, honey, chocolate and a liqueur. Early this year the monks served an application to the IVT for granting the Trappist label their beer. After visiting the abbey and an official tasting it has just been officially recognized.

Tre Fontane is a high fermentation beer with an alcohol content of 8.5 percent. It is brewed according to the recipe of the monastic community of Tre Fontane. The beer has a mild sweet aftertaste caused by the eucalyptus herb flavour that purifies and refreshes, says the IVT. ‘The bitterness of the hops keeps this sweetness in balance’, it says.

The monks of Tre Fontane will brew 1,000 hectoliters annually. It is only for sale in the shop of the abbey itself and some cafés and restaurants in Rome.

In total there are now eleven official Trappist beers:

  • Six Belgian (Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren)
  • Two Dutch (La Trappe and Zundert)
  • The Austrian Engelszell
  • Spencer from the United States
  • The new Italian Tre Fontane


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 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.