If you like beer, even a little bit, this is the weekend to be in Brussels. The 14th edition of the Belgian Beer Weekend starts on Friday and continues through Sunday, with more than 50 Belgian breweries offering up their best. I must admit (as shameful as it is living in Belgium) that I’m not really a beer drinker. As you may have noticed, I’ve had to call in reinforcements (aka my friend Eoin) to write about beer on this blog (Beer Notes post). But even I’m impressed with a festival dedicated to a country that produces so many types of beer.
The Beer Weekend is organized by the Belgian Brewers’ Guild to pay tribute to the patron saint of brewers, Saint Arnould. The Guild of Brewers is one of the oldest professional associations in the world and all Belgian breweries belong to it. Read more on the history here.
Typically the festival is hosted on the Grand Place, but this year it has spread to the Bourse as well. A “Beer & Food” exhibition will be held inside the old stock exchange building, where the Belgian Beer Café will present different beer and food pairings every hour. A 50m bar will also be set up in the street behind to help keep your glass full on the walk between the Grand Place and the Bourse. See the map for details.
There is a huge list of beers on offer (more than 350!) from both small and large Belgian breweries. I’m not going to attempt to recommend any so I guess you’ll just have to go and sample several yourselves. Entrance to the Grand Place and Bourse is free. Tickets are €1 a piece and beers range from 2 tickets for a simple Pils, up to 5 tickets for a Trappist beer and other unique brews.
The festivities kick off on Friday, 31 August, with a celebration for Saint Arnould and some sort of blessing of the beer at St Michel Cathedral around 1:45pm. The real party starts at 6pm with the opening of the Grand Place stalls and continues until 10pm. Visitors can start drinking again at 11am on Saturday and keep going until 9pm (Wow, 10 hours of beer consumption. Things should get interesting). The stalls are open again on Sunday from 11am to 8pm.
If you need a distraction from all the beer (hello, me), watch the parade of historic beer carts and vehicles on Saturday, which leaves the Quai du Bois-à-Brûler (fish market) at 1pm, or the parade of brewers on the Grand Place at 2pm. There’s also a parade of musical groups on Sunday at noon.
Happy (and safe!) drinking 🙂
Images via Belgian Brewers and Global Grasshopper.