Belgium’s 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: Many festival organizers have not yet come up with dates for their 2014 beer festivals, especially those in the second half of the year. Before you book any flights, make sure you check the beer festival websites closer to the event date as many of the dates are not yet confirmed and may change.)
Some Belgian Beer Festivals 2014
Brugs Bier Festival 2014 (Bruges)
From February 1 & 2, 2014: Only weeks to go before the 7th Bruges Beer Festival in February 2014. This festival features more than 339 beers from 77 breweries, including quite a number of new beers and exciting ones such as Triple Gauloise Blonde, Malheur Brut Extra and Den Ijzeren Arm 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 has traditionally been held at the Historic Rooms of the Belfry complex but this year there is a new location. The beer festival operates at these times: Saturday from 12.00 till 22.00 – Sunday from 11.00 till 21.00.
Address: Beurshalle, Beursplein Brugge (note new location)
For Bruges Hotels: See here.
Special Beer Weekend 2014 (Sohier)
February 21 – 23, 2014: 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
De Nacht van de Grote Dorst 2014 (Eizeringen)
April 25, 2014: 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 2014 is the year!
Address: Frans Baetensstraat 45, 1750 Eizeringen
The Zythos Bier Festival – ZBF 2014 ( Leuven)
April 26 – 27, 2014: 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 300 beers from the 100 breweries featured. For this 11th edition, the colour is dark blue. There is no entry fee and no pre-booking is required.
Address: Brabanthal, Brabantlaan 1, 3001 Leuven
For Leuven Hotels: See here.
Beer Festival of Bouillon 2014 (Bouillon)
April 2014 (tbc): Bouillon shopkeepers display all beer products, including local producers of specialty beers. There are tasting sessions.
Beer Festival of Mons 2014 (Mons)
From May 2014 (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 2014 (Asberg Kasterlee)
May 2014 (tbc):
Not good news for beer lovers. Due to organizational issues, the 2013 Oktoberfest Belgium did not take place. If you like the Belgium Oktoberfest, pray to Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer (or whoever your favourite goddess is), that this festival will take place in 2014.
At this Oktoberfest normally held in May, visitors can experience a touch of the famous German beer festivals in Kasterlee. Oom-pah bands playing typical Oktoberfest music, women dressed in Dirndls, men in lederhosen and plenty of beer all add to the authentic Oktoberfest atmosphere over the four-day event. But Oktoberfest Belgium is not just a beer-drinking event. It’s first day is dedicated to the mentally disabled people from the region and to give these people a memorable day. Well done guys and keep up the good work!
Address: Asberg Kasterlee (near the Turnhout-Kasterlee roundabout)
Bierpassie 2014 – Beer Passion Weekend, Groenplats Square (Antwerp)
June 27, 28 and 29, 2014: The 15th Bierpassie Weekend will be held in Groenplats Square. This summer festival offers over 200 beers and more beers are added each year.
Address: Groenplaats, Antwerp
Festival of International Special Beers 2014 (Stembert)
July 18 – 22, 2014: Now in its 22nd 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 2014 (Luxembourg)
July 20, 2014: 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.
La Grande Choufferie 2014 (Wibrin)
August 8, 2014: An event to celebrate the birth of the famous La Chouffe Belgian beer. This event takes place on Friday 8th August at 7 pm.
Address: Brasserie d’Achouffe, Rue du Village 21, 6666 Wibrin
Festival of 100 Beers 2014 (Anvaing)
August 15 – 17, 2014: 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 2014 (Archennes)
August 23 – 24, 2014: 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 2014 (Brussels)
From September 5 – 7, 2014: Brussels’ Grand’Place – Grote Markt hosts the 16th 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 2014 (Durbuy)
From September 13 – 14, 2014 (tbc): An all weekend event when you can go on a sampling trail and discover regional beers, breads and cheese.
Address: Place aux Foires 25, 6940 Durbuy
Hops Festival in Val de Sambre 2014 (Erquelinnes)
From September 5 – 7, 2014: 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 Hop and Beer Festival 2014 (Poperinge)
September 19-21, 2014: Poperinge is the charming hop metropolis in the southwest of West Flanders and has a triennial hop and beer festival. The last of this triennial festival was in 2011.
Belgian Beer Festival / Beer Collectors’ and Exchange Market 2014 (Lustin)
Oct 2014 (tbc): 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.
BLES Bierhappening 2014 (Zottegem)
October 11, 2014: 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 2014 (Rulles)
From October 18 – 19, 2014 (tbc): This takes place in Rulles where you can visit different stands and meet 23 Master-Brewers and taste their products consisting of more than 80 different beers. Also, enjoy local cuisine made from Belgian beer.
Address: Site du Bois des Isles, 6724 Rulles, Marbehan
Karakterbier Festival 2014 (Poperinge)
October 25 – 26, 2014 (tbc): This festival of very special beers is an annual event in Poperinge and features 60 local Flemish beers, mainly brewed in small quantities, but with special aromas.
Weekend Der Belgische Bieren 2014 (Hasselt)
November 2014 (tbc): This beer weekend by De Limburgse Biervrienden offers a careful selection of 140 Belgian beers for beer lovers. Venue – Cultural Centre of Hasselt.
International Christmas Beer Festival 2014 (Stembert)
From November 2014 – December 2014 (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 2014 (Essen)
December 2014 (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
So, if you love a good brew, Belgium may be a good stop for your next holiday itinerary.