Sunday, September 9

a slice of Europe - Belgian Beer Weekend.

Last weekend, as part of my 25th birthday celebration, Marius surprised me with a trip to Belgium for Belgian Beer Weekend! Our enjoyment of beer is like that of a wine connoisseur's enjoyment of wine. There is an expansive world of beer that reaches far beyond the American stereotypes associated with  the drink. Only in the last decade or so has the craft beer movement begun to overpower the watery, flavorless giants of the American industry. There are endless arrays of colors, aromas and flavors, for example amber hues or pitch black malt; floral hops or sweet caramel; spicy cloves or freshly toasted bread. Much as "foodies" or wine connoisseurs enjoy their wares, we also consider the enjoyment of beer a hobby.

A two hour drive brought us to the Grote Markt (Grand Place) of Brussels and the Bourse (Stock Exchange), where the event was held. The Gothic architecture all around us was absolutely stunning! There were dozens of breweries being represented in the Grote Markt, with over 300 different types of Belgian beer! Down the street was a huge beer bar with a different menu, and the Bourse that hosted food pairings. Instead of offering small two ounce samplings of beer, as is seen in the States, only full glasses were offered. Even considering such, we were surprised to discover how responsibility everyone at the event was drinking. We didn't see one person who was overly intoxicated, stumbling, or being rowdy. 

In addition to drinking quite a few beers both familiar and new to us, we got to see horse-drawn brewery carts, costumed representatives of the Belgian breweries, wonderful wandering musical groups, and a few historically significant reenactments involving beer. Nearby, there were dozens of small side streets, paved with cobblestone and cluttered with the tables and chairs of dozens of seemingly identical seafood restaurants. Instead of trying our luck with seafood while we were there (we both grew up right on the east coast, so we're rather picky about where we eat seafood), we left the event before the evening hours set in and opted for a lovely pizzeria, a great little crêpe restaurant, and even Belgian fast food! 

We stayed for two nights at a nice little hotel that offered a decent European style breakfast buffet, and a play area for kids. Iris discovered Rody the bouncy horse and fell in love. She did a great job while we were in Brussels, especially since the brewery tent area was very crowded and she had to stay in her stroller for safety's sake. She did really enjoy toddling around watching all the action on the cobblestone streets with Pooh, eating crêpes and going up and down on the glass elevator in our hotel. It was wonderful to have a little vacation that focused on one of our favorite hobbies, and it was also fun to have the opportunity to speak French again! What a great weekend, thank you my dear Marius! 

Grote Markt of Brussels, the huge square where the brewer's tents were located. 
Grote Markt of Brussels. 
Grote Markt of Brussels. 
Reading to a very patient Iris. 
Drinking Westvleteren Blonde.
Delirium Tremens representatives in a procession towards the Grand-Place.

A musical group passing us in the street.

The Brussels Bourse, where different beer and food pairings were served every hour.
Our beer samples paired with seafood, cheese and a chocolate dessert.
Inside the Bourse. 
Drinking our favorite new find, DeuS (Brut Des Flandres.) It is referred to as "a champagne beer" for good reason!
Two lambics (fruit beers), Oude Geuze and Kriek Mariage Parfait by Boon brewery.
Love and beer.
Drinking a limited hop edition of a favorite beer, Duvel.
Menu for the big bar near the brewers tents.
Bar near the brewer's tents.
Two of the beers we tried.
Historic brewer's carts that passed us on our way to lunch.
Another one of at least half a dozen carts that passed us.
Enjoying another favorite beer at a crêpe restaurant.
We gave Belgian fast food a try, which was delicious... and this was Iris' massive kid's meal and package of toys!
Iris and her new love, Rody! She will be so surprised when he magically shows up for her birthday!
Our souvenirs, most of which we will be aging over the next few years. 


  1. Wow, I forgot how beautiful Brussels is! When I studied in Luxembourg I spent a weekend there and in Bruges and loved it! I miss Europe so much -- I'm so glad you're taking every advantage there :)

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