BEER FESTIVALS THAT MAKE BELGIUM THE BEER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD:
Munich Oktoberfest is without doubt the king of all beer festivals. But for the discerning beer lover, it is not the size of the beer festival that counts. The Belgian Beer Festivals are not as well publicized internationally as Munich Oktoberfest, yet Belgium has a tradition of beer making and produces some 450 different varieties of beer, including some world famous brands.
Looking at their annual calendar of events, there’s a major event or beer festival almost every month of the year and below is just a sampling of them.
Note: Some festival organizers have yet to come up with dates for their 2015 beer festivals, especially those in the second half of the year. Before you book any flights, it is advisable to check the beer festival websites closer to the event date as many of the dates are either not yet confirmed or may change.
Some Belgian Beer Festivals 2015
Brugs Bier Festival 2015 (Bruges)
February 7 & 8, 2015: Less than two weeks to go before the 8th Bruges Beer Festival in February 2015. This festival features more than 365 beers from 80 breweries, including quite a number of new beers and exciting ones such as Flanders Field, Gulden Spoor Blond, Hippoliet, Houblons, Indian Summer and Keyte Kriek Magic to name a few. Apart from beer tasting, you can watch some top chefs cooking their gastronomic delights with beer, and you can taste the food as well. The Beer Festival takes place in the Beurshal in Bruges, about 1 km from the train station. Operating hours are: Saturday 7 February from 12.00 till 22.00 – Sunday 8 February from 11.00 till 21.00.
Address: Beurshalle, Beursplein Brugge
For Bruges Hotels: See here.
Special Beer Weekend 2015 (Sohier)
February 20, 21 & 22, 2015: Those who like traditional beers will enjoy Sohier’s 3-day beer festival, known as “The WEBS” to the regulars. Set in the town of Wellin, Sohier has more than 130 different beers, many of which are from traditional production and also some “exotic” beers.
Address: Rue Basse, 6920 Sohier (Wellin)
Gambrinus Beer Truck Festival (Philippeville)
Unfortunately this festival is no longer run, however you can still visit the interesting Gambrinus Drivers Museum dedicated to brewery trucks. This museum is in former maltings-brewery-farm buildings of the 19th century and it contains some 20 vehicles and 75 themed displays.
Address: 2A Fontaine St. Pierre, B 5600 Romedenne, Philippeville
The Zythos Bier Festival – ZBF 2015 ( Leuven)
April 25 – 26, 2015: This great beer festival takes place in the modern Brabanthal event centre in Leuven where there’s plenty of space for brewers and visitors. There are approximately 500 beers from the 100 breweries and beer firms featured. There is no entry fee and no pre-booking is required. Opening hours are 12:00 to 23:00 on Saturday and 11:00 to 21:00 on Sunday.
Address: Brabanthal, Brabantlaan 1, 3001 Leuven
For Leuven Hotels: See here.
Beer Festival of Bouillon 2015 (Bouillon)
April 2015 (tbc): Bouillon shopkeepers display all beer products, including local producers of specialty beers. There are tasting sessions.
Beer Festival of Mons 2015 (Mons)
From May 2015 (tbc): This is an annual event where the Party Service and tradesmen of the Grand-Place organize a weekend dedicated to beer. Visitors can taste traditional beers from the numerous stalls which includes the big brands that made Belgium famous as the World Center of Beer.
Address: Grand-Place, 7000 Mons
Oktoberfest Belgium 2015 (Asberg Kasterlee)
May 2015 (tbc):
Normally held in May, in Kasterlee, but at this stage there’s no information as to whether Oktoberfest Belgium will take place in 2015. I’ll keep a lookout.
Address: Asberg Kasterlee (near the Turnhout-Kasterlee roundabout)
Bierpassie 2015 – Beer Passion Weekend, Groenplats Square (Antwerp)
June 27 – 28, 2015: The 16th Bierpassie Weekend will be held in Groenplats Square in Antwerp. This summer festival offers over 200 beers and more beers are added each year.
Address: Groenplaats, Antwerp
Festival of International Special Beers 2015 (Stembert)
July 16 – 21, 2015 (tbc): Now in its 23rd year, there are more than 200 Belgian and foreign beers to discover here!
Address: Salle Chanteloup, rue des Champs 9, 4801 Stembert
Gathering of the Breweries in Belgian 2015 (Luxembourg)
July 2015 (tbc): The breweries of the province of Luxembourg gather in Hotton for beer tastings, explanation of different brewing methods, music, raffle for a basket with regional products, and street animations.
Address: Hotton L’ile de l’Oneux
La Grande Choufferie 2015 (Wibrin)
August 2015 (tbc): An event to celebrate the birth of the famous La Chouffe Belgian beer. This event takes place on in early August where you can discover the art of beer, learn how to serve and taste a Chouffe and how to match it to your meals.
Address: Brasserie d’Achouffe, Rue du Village 21, 6666 Wibrin
Festival of 100 Beers 2015 (Anvaing)
August 2015: Usually held on the third weekend in August, the Festival of 100 Beers is like a “Beer Games” with bike races, card games, culminating in the tasting of 100 beers. There’s also a family day with barbeque, entertainment for children and music.
Address: Petit château “Norbert”, Drève d’Anvaing, 7910 Anvaing
Arch’en Biers 2015 (Archennes)
August 22 – 23, 2015 (tbc): Held in the town of Grez-Doiceau, the aim of this festival is to acquaint people with lesser-known beers in Walloon Brabant. Each year, the organizers endeavour to present new products to visitors and there will be numerous tasting throughout the weekend.
Address: Maison Coullemont, Rue des Moulins 10, 1390 Archennes
Brussels Beer Weekend 2015 (Brussels)
From September 4 – 6, 2015 (tbc): Brussels’ Grand’Place – Grote Markt hosts the 17th Belgian Beer Weekend with a multitude of stands offering the opportunity to discover some of their best Belgian beers. Many small, medium-sized and large Belgian breweries will present their best selections of beers – in total some 350 different Belgian beers. Entrance is free and beer prices are very reasonable! Entertainment such as jazz bands, brass bands, activities for children will accompany your beer tasting.
Address: Grand-Place, 1000 Bruxelles
Beer, Bread and Cheese Festival 2015 (Durbuy)
From September 12 – 13, 2015 (tbc) : At this 21st Fete de la Biere, you can go on a sampling trail all weekend and discover regional beers, breads and cheese.
Address: Place aux Foires 25, 6940 Durbuy
Hops Festival in Val de Sambre 2015 (Erquelinnes)
From September 4 – 6, 2015 (tbc): Great hops festivity in the town of Erquelinnes, with amazing entertainment throughout the weekend including music, guided tours of the brewery, hot-air balloon rides, and craft exhibitions.
Address: Microbrasserie d’Erquelinnes, Rue de Maubeuge 197, 6560 Erquelinnes
Poperinge Beer and Hop Festival 2015 (Poperinge)
September 18-20, 2015 (tbc): Poperinge is the charming hop metropolis in the southwest of West Flanders. This is a triennial hop and beer festival so if you miss this one, you’ll have to wait another three years.
Belgian Beer Museum / Beer Collectors’ and Exchange Market 2015 (Lustin)
1st Sunday in Oct 2015: This beer event takes place in the town of Lustin (Profondeville) with displays of beer glasses, bottles, labels, coasters, old ads, clocks, mirrors, pints, jugs and other collector’s items. It claims to have available 850 varieties of beer (that’s what they’re claiming!), including meals cooked with beer.
Address: Belgian Beer Museum, Rue de la Gare 19, Lustin (Profondeville)
BLES Bierhappening 2015 (Zottegem)
October 10, 2015 (tbc): This festival takes place from 2 p.m. on the second Saturday in October and features 23 brewers who will present more than 100 beers. Beer connoisseurs will have to opportunity to meet the beer makers and discuss their favourite brews. A special BLES beer is brewed for the festival each year and this is matched to a cheese that is also specially made. The BLES Bierhappening location is within walking distance to the train station and is wheelchair accessible.
Address: Sporthal Bevegemse Vijvers, Bevegemsevijvers 1, Zottegem
Brassigaume – The International Festival of Small Breweries 2015 (Gaume)
From October 17 – 18, 2015 (tbc): This takes place in the heart of Gaume, on the third weekend in October, where you can visit different stands and meet 26 Master-Brewers and taste their products consisting of more than 80 different beers. Also, enjoy local cuisine made from Belgian beer.
Address: Complexe du bois des Isles, Marbehan
Poperinge Beer Festival 2015 (Poperinge)
October 24 – 25, 2015 (tbc): This festival of very special beers is an annual event in Poperinge and features 100 local Flemish beers, mainly brewed in small quantities, but with special aromas.
Address: Hotel Belfort, Main Square 29, B-8970 Poperinge
Weekend Der Belgische Bieren 2015 (Hasselt)
November 6 – 8, 2015 : This 22nd edition of beer weekend by De Limburgse Biervrienden offers a careful selection of 100 Belgian beers for beer lovers.
Venue – Cultural Centre of Hasselt.
International Christmas Beer Festival 2015 (Stembert)
From November – December 2015 (dates to be confirmed): Enjoy 70 Belgian beers whilst you look around at the Christmas cribs of about 20 exhibitors.
Address: Salle Chanteloup, rue des Champs 9, 4801 Stembert
OBER Kerstbierfestival Christmas Beer Festival 2015 (Essen)
December 19 – 20, 2015 (tbc) – At the two-day OBER (Objective Beer Tasters of Essen Region) Christmas Beer Festival, visitors can taste more than 150 Belgian Christmas and winter beers in the small village of Essen, near the Dutch border. They say that their beer list is one of the best in the world, so you’ll need to go and check this out yourself.
Address: Heuvelhal, Kapelstraat 7, B-2910 Essen
De Nacht van de Grote Dorst 2016 (Eizeringen)
April 2016 (tbc): This one-evening event includes Lambic breweries and Geuze blenders of the Payottenland and the Senne Valley. The Night of the Large Thirst is a smallish event offering naturally fermented Lambic and Gueuze beers. This event takes place every two years and the next festival is in 2016!
Address: Frans Baetensstraat 45, 1750 Eizeringen
So, if you love a good brew, Belgium may be a good stop for your next holiday itinerary.