Saturday, May 05, 2007


High Season in Low Countries

May is beer fest month in Europe. On May 11-13 it is time again for the annual festival called the Copenhagen beer days, a festival that could well have been branded “probably the best”. Well-organized (though its success means it is growing out of its venue of Valbyhallen) and with a great choice of both Danish and imported beers as befits the merchant nation of Denmark. Ideas of a truly European craft beer festival have been aired, and I can think of few better organisers of such an event than Danske Ølentusiaster, the Danish beer consumer organisation, the host of the Copenhagen beer days.

During the festival the Scandinavian Home Brewing Championship will take place. Here enthusiasts who enjoy not only drinking good beer, but also making it, have a chance to meet.

I have had the pleasure of running into two of those enthusiasts this Easter and last. The venue was, appropriately enough, the Kulminator in Antwerpen, which gets filled up with Danish beer pilgrimes every Easter. Eastcoast home brewers Michael and Tom kindly donated a bottle of their Brewer's Ale (on the picture) last Good Friday, and it is definitely not a beer for crucifixion. It has nice orangey amber colour with a thick off-white head, yielding a grassy and sweet aroma, and flavours that balance well, though a bit on the sweet side.

Copenhagen is truly wonderful, but at the time this year I will be touring some other low countries. Beer festivals will not be missed, however. A well-reputed student festival in Vilvoorde, a new beer fest in St Olen in Belgian Limburg (that I may have to forego, though), and a Meibockfestival in Amsterdam's Helicopterstraat (at De Prael brewery) makes sure that the Low Countries remain a highlight even in the high season of European beer festivals.

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