Belgium does not lack for craft beer festivals or special events, on top of the more traditional showcases of Belgian beer, which themselves are turning to feature the newer members of the tribe, from here and beyond. The Netherlands is catching up, but still has a long way to go, as does France.
The following is a round-up of some of the festivals and events the Beer Idiots visited in 2019, along with our video interviews of those who either founded them or were part of the organisation behind them. We have also included a few of the ones that we plan to cover this year. So join us in a feast of festivals as we put our livers though another incredible year of meeting people, all for you, dear beer drinker.
Please greet us by yelling out “Here come the Beer Idiots!”, and we just might have a few buttons to hand out commemorating our first year. At the very least you will be eligible for a membership card (with our signatures) to our registered non-profit, Beer Idiots. Check out the best festival and events calendar in Belgium to plan your drinking time. Our first visit this year will be to the Bruges Beer Festival on 1-2 February. See you there!
April: Leuven Innovation, Leuven
Video: André Janssens, owner of Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal in Belgium, at Leuven Innovation Beer Festival 2019, 13-14 April. Leuven Innovation Festival, founded by Hoff ten Dormaal, is an expression of his drive to boost beer making and beer appreciation and brings about 16 brewers from around the world together. The Leuven Innovation Beer 2020 edition will be held 4-5 April. Tickets are on sale now.
April: Bespelingen van het Lot III ∙ Twisting the Fate III
Video: Very gently Armand Debelder reaches over and commands the bottle of kriek out of one of the Beer Idiots’ hands. He pours the blackish, red liquid into our glasses ahead of our interview. Patiently and without fuss Debelder gives us a master class in how to properly pour lambics and gueuzes. Debelder of Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen, was interviewed at the Twisting the Fate II 3-4 May. This year’s Twisting the Fate III version will be held April 24-25. Normally there will be a bus from the brewer to Nacht Van De Grote Dorst on the 24 April.
April: Night of the Great Thirst (Nacht Van De Grote Dorst), Itterbeek
Video: Nacht Van De Grote Dorst TV SPOT from Yves Panneels on Vimeo. This fabulous festival celebrating geuze and kriek is held every two years and the 2020 edition will be on 24 April, the day before Zythos.
Video: With a record 587 Belgian beers on offer, the Zythos Beer Festival is the largest showcase in the world for the made-in-Belgium brand. The Beer Idiots talked about the evolution of traditional Belgian brewing and the onslaught of the new with Yannick de Cocquéau, former Zythos Beer Festival coordinator (2012-2016) and a volunteer at the 2019 edition in Leuven, Belgium. The 2020 edition will be on 25-26 April. Tickets are already on sale.
May: Swafff!, Brussels
Video: Grégoire Rifaut, talks about the social side of organising Swafff!, which was held 18-19 May at Chateau du Karreveld, in Brussels, Belgium. The annual festival is organised by three of the best craft promoters in town: Rifaut of Dynamo – Bar de Soif, Sébastien Albanese of Le Barboteur and Antoine Pierson of Malt Attacks.
July: Namur Capitale de la Bière et du Terroir Festival, Namur
Video: The 8th edition of Namur Capitale de la Bière et du Terroir Festival featured a mix of the traditional family-run brewers, bigger brands that produce lots of suds, and some craft brewers, including Atrium, Brasserie de la Sambre and BrewDog. About 40 Belgian brewers participated, along with Scottish-based BrewDog. Around 10,000 people attended over the three days 12-14 July, with 220 beers and rocking music to keep them happy. Co-organised by Emilien Watelet and Sébastien Legrain, it’s Wallona’s largest beer festival, in a part of Belgium that does not feature a lot in the geek calendar.
August: BXL BeerFest, Brussels
Video: Kevin Desmet, co-organiser of the BXL BeerFest, speaks about brewers and friends and bringing everyone together at Tour & Taxis, Brussels, Belgium. The beer festival, held 24-25 August 2019, attracted some 6,500 drinkers this year from 20 countries and about 60 brewers. Desmet teamed up with Jean Hummler of Moeder Lambic, Vincent Callut, beer branding consultant, and Olivier Desmet (they are not related) of Brussels restaurant Nüetnigenough. For this third edition, they invited about sixty breweries, about half of which are located in Belgium.
August: Wanderlust, Brussels
Podcast: Sébastien Morvan, co-founder of the Brussels Beer Project with Olivier de Brauwere, talks about Wanderlust, what to do when the beer runs out too soon, and about the future plans for the festival in the podcast. This was the sixth edition of the festival, held this year at , the Vismarkt, Marché aux Poissons, in Brussels on 14-15 September. The 15 breweries featured included BrewFist, Brewski, Brouwerij Frontaal, Cervejaria Invicta, Cloudwater Brew Co., Browar Stu Mostów, Dok Brewing Company, Haandbryggeriet, Kaapse Brouwers, La Microbrasserie du Lac-St-Jean, Mikkeller HQ and The Piggy Brewing Co. Brasserie de l’Ermitage was brought in on Sunday to help out.
September: Zwanze day, selected bars worldwide
Video: Jean Van Roy, Cantillon’s owner and brewer, speaks about the reason he started Zwanze day and about the beer released for the 2019 edition, held 28 September 2019. This is not a festival in the traditional sense of course, but we thought we would include it as there is such a large following for the event.
October: Mechelen Beer Festival, Mechelen
The Beer Idiots attended this festival held 11-13 October in the town square. We have not got around to posting the videos of our interviews yet, but hold on! We could not score an interview with one of the organisers of this quite traditional festival.
October: Brassigaume, Marbehan
Video: Grégory Verhelst talks about Brasserie Artisanale de Rulles and Brassigaume, an out-of-the-way beer festival in Marbehan, Belgium, held this year 19-20 October. In the first part of the interview Verhelst talks about the festival and then about his philosophy of brewing when founding Rulles.
October: Warsaw Beer Festival, Poland
November: Bière a Lille (BAL), Lille, France
Video: Nicolas Lescieux of l’Échappée Bière, one of the organisers of the Bière a Lille (BAL), talks about the growth of craft beer in France and takes us on a walk among some of the brewers. BAL was held 9-10 November in Lille, France at Gare Saint-Sauveur and featured about 72 breweries.
November: Dag van de Oude Geuze, Halle
Video: Johan Madalijns, president/chairman of De Lambikstoempers tells us what the club is all about and the special lambics and gueuzes available on Dag van de Oude Geuze 2019 in Halle, Belgium, 23-24 November.
November: Billie’s Craft Beer Fest, Antwerp
Video 1: Stéfan Cauwenbergs held his at his world-famous Billie’s Craft Beer Fest at Waagnatie Expo & Events, in Antwerp, Belgium from 29-30 November, 2019.
Video 2: Cauwenbergs, owner of Billie’s Bier Kafétaria in Antwerp, talks about the philosophy behind the festival he founded. The interview features Billie.
December: Kerstbierfestival, Essen
Video: Kerstbierfestival co-founder Jan Machiel van Bragt took us on a walk around Essen’s Christmas beer festival . The festival in Belgium was held 14-15 December and featured about 220 beers and has bragging rights to the largest of its kind in the world.