Friday, March 24, 2006


Big Thirst in a Small Place

The first weekend of March sees not only the annual Zythos Bierfestival, the biggest of all Belgian beer festivals. Quite a contrast, but not less loved, is the big little geuzefestival called Night of Large Thirst (Nacht van Grote Dorst), held the Friday night before the big festival.

It all started with the damage from a fire that threatened to close down the geuze café called In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst (the insurance against the big thirst). In support of the restoration of this village café in Eizeringen the first little geuzefestival was organised two years ago and repeated this year. And judging from the success it would surprise me if it does repeat itself in two years time.

It is a good opportunity to visit this café and to meet beer enthusiasts from all over the world. Tents had been set up on the green spot between the café and the village church. During the rest of the year, the café is only open on Sundays and church holidays (from 10 am to 1.30 pm) and whenever there is a funeral service at the church.

Arriving there is actually a bit weird. I boarded the no 128 bus at the Brussel Noord Station (which doubles as the bus station), knowing just the name of the stop at the outskirts of Eizeringen. I did not need to worry. As soon as the bus came to the city centre it became filled up with Finns, Dutch, Americans, and probably quite a few other nationalities. 40 minutes later a group of foreigners was walking quietly on a dark village road. There was expectation in the air!

The picture shows the greatest beer on offer that evening in my opinion, the 2002 Oude Geuze from 3 Fonteinen. As can also be seen, the ground became rather muddy with geuze tasters wandering back and forth between the 9 geuze brewers and blenders that were present.

It was a sight that would make any beer lover's mouth water. Good to know that you were basically insured against leaving the village thirsty.

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