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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Belgium: I’m Leuven It!

I would like to offer my apologies to my tens of followers as it has been far too long since my last post. Truth be told there has been little blog worthy beer activity during the long German winter. With daylight hours growing ever longer my desire for new and exciting beer venues is on the rise. My desire became so overwhelming (Still Referring to Beer) I took to the interwebs in search of a new beer adventure. After thousands of nanoseconds “On the Line” my eyes fell on the Zythos Beer Festival in Leuven, Belgium. Eureka! Leuven Belgium is a mere five or so hour trip as the Ford flies. Leuven is also home to largest University in Belgium where a friend of mine is currently studying philosophy. The pieces were falling in place nicely.  I hastily purchased tickets which included obligatory tasting glasses and eight tokens for beer samples. Only eight tokens for a festival with more than 80 booths and 500 beers!?!?!?!?  Challenge accepted

Leuven has a rich beer culture, being the birthplace of several beers such as (Cough) Stella Artois, Leuvense Tripel, Domus, and Keizersberg. Leuven is also home to the worldwide headquarters of Anheuser-Busch InBev…..Enough about them. My Navigator and I arrive in Leuven Friday evening, taking enough time to check into our centrally located hotel before striking off in search of food and of course beer. AB InBev aside Lueven is a magnificent town with picturesque buildings and churches dating back to 1400’s.
Town Hall

We arise at the crack of 1000 am, meeting the “Philosopher” at 1100 to catch the shuttle bus to the fest. It’s painfully obvious that the early worm may catch the worm, but he definitely didn’t catch the first bus as nearly a hundred people fight to board the complimentary city bus. Fortunately the organizers anticipated this and a mere seven minutes later another bus arrived, whisking us away to a date with beer destiny. We enter Brabenthall, barely, as hundreds of “Advanced” ticket holders anxiously await the high noon opening. Well, hundreds minus one. The Philosopher opted to purchase tickets at the door, propelling him to the FRONT of the cash only line with an eye popping three other people! Fortunately he is not only a scholar but a gentleman and quickly secured brewery swag while we slogged our way in. Once inside my Navigator quickly purchased not less than 30 additional beer tokens which she evenly distributed to the rest of us. That’s why she is the Navigator.  Now to the beer!

It goes without saying that ones first beer MUST be a traditional Belgian style. We quickly get a sample of Palm Belgian Amber, a run of the mill Tripel by Steinhaus Brewing. We then opt for a Viven Imperial IPA. I have sampled several European IPA’s and none could hold a candle to an American IPA. Much to my delight Viven is the exception. I could have just easily been drinking an IPA at beer fest in Virginia! For the rest of the afternoon we alternated between traditional Belgian beers and Belgian craft beers until finally both we, and our tokens were exhausted. In total we had sampled 18 beers (I managed two freebies) but could have easily sampled twice that many without scratching the surface. Beer was not the only thing on the menu as there were numerous food trucks serving up pizza, burgers, and of course, don’t call them “French” fries. One of my favorites was what I dubbed “Meat Fries”. Unlike Poutine which I enjoy very much these fries come with what can only be described as beef stew on top! If my calculations are correct, between food and beer, I consumed approximately 48000 calories! I may be exaggerating slightly.
"Meat Fries"
"High Noon"

Suffice to say I am looking forward to next years Zythos fest. Belgium is a beer country, more so than Germany, in my humble opinion. Beer shops abound in most every city we passed through. As of this writing I have more than 40 Belgian beers in my cellar with plans to double that number by the official start of summer. For anyone even remotely considering a trip to Belgium and the awesomeness that is the Zythos beer festival I can only say


Until next time,
Stay Crafty

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