This beer tour has been quite intense and I am coming into the final days of my beer experience on this trip. But one of the great days drinking was had at this amazing beer event that is about 1 hour outside of brussels in a small town called Diest. The group is OBAD that aim to educate more people on drinking craft belgium beers, not the big name brands that we all know and see everywhere.
I need to thank Belgium King Jim who noted some of the festivals that were on while I was in Belgium.
It was a big of a leg to to the event from Brussels, but I heard someone else on my carriage saying to the ticket inspector that he’s going to Diest. I glanced up and saw it was an English speaking couple which were also going to the same small town, which I had assumed was for the same reason as me, to drink beer at this festival. Having spoke to them when we got off in Leuven I decided to follow them to Diest. I had thought of staying the night in Leuven, but the sight of the Stella Mega Brewer was quite staggering enough, so I decided I would stay back in Brussels again.
The town itself is where I had my lunch of Frites and some sausage contraction, that was told he was a 4th Generation Friteur. This was going to be my lunch to drench the beer that I was about to consume. I honestly didn’t know what to expect at this point, as I had been inside the hall, got my seats next to the Manchester friends i met on the train, and now I was eating to ensure i could drink.
The event goes from 1pm to 11pm, so you have a full 10 hours of drinking time to explore some of the more unique Belgium beers on at this show. Included is a booklet that lists the beers in an order with a number attached. The point is to write the number of beer, and number of glasses required on a sheet and then hold up a Sign to have one of the waiters come and take your order. I had never been in this sort of event as I’m used to tickets, tokens, or events where beer is free once inside. The beers were different prices, and thus required a different payment method.
The festival is held in the local high school cafeteria and its kind of cute to be back in a high school again, especially one holding a unique beer event in the middle of belgium. It must have been about 2’oclock when I had my first beer and I started with the local brewery Lotterbol as they had a few beers on tap, aside from the 100 bottles on offer.
I viewed a lot of people sharing beers at their table, as this ultimately is the point of events to learn and share with others. What I like in a beer is not necessarily what you seek. My mate George in Vancouver loves his English Brown ales and seeks them out, which I find boring. This event had everything in styles from Lambics, Stouts, Russian Imperial Stouts, and even Bourbon Barrel aged beers. One that I hopefully bring home with me.
One of the most outstanding beers of the day was from a brewer who only brews a few times a year and it was 580 Litres of beer only in his production. Manchester Andy bought to bottles and I bought 1, so we took 2.25litres of his 580litres produced. So we in a way felt like we bought .5% of his total production. Again I hope this beer makes it home, and its as special as I thought it was on the day. Its one of the harder to find beers in Belgium and I can remember the flavours going on and on in the mouth.
There was a local press guy there speaking to people and Bierfesten even make it onto the local news with Manchester Andy getting his 15 minutes of fame. . I had not wanted to talk on camera, but they do mention ‘Australian’ somewhere in that footage. So apparently I traveled the furthest away for the event. Though truthfully it was only a by chance event that I happened to be there.
I found the event to be very relaxed, whereby you only get out of your seat to go to the bathroom at the other end of the school. It helped make your own choices more clear so you had to choose not only the Number of Beer you want, the Amount in bottles, and how many glasses. You find later in the day you put your orders off and they take longer to come to the table. Many times we didn’t know who ordered the beer but everyone put their cash tickets forward. Some beers turned out to be great surprise with some we sent back as didn’t want to drink beer we disliked.
There are many reasons why this was special to me as an event. i have been to many festivals all over the world, and I can say this is one of the special events that definitely took me by surprise. The rarity of the beers, and the ambiance of in a room of serious beer drinks that had come from other parts of the world genuinely for the event. I am not sure where I’ll be living in 6 months, but I definitely want to pencil in my plans to attend the 4th annual event next year.
The OBAD beer group is one of the best organised ones I know of, and they all have input into choosing the beers for this event. They taste beers from all across the country and all help in gathering the beers for the event. In terms of speaking too much about how great the event is, I am only meant to give details to a few of my beer associates.