Summary: Zythos Beer Festival 2014 [ZBF], Leuven, Belgium, is back and will be even better than last year’s. “Our bags are packed and we’re ready to go …”
- 12:00-00:00, 26 April
- 11:00-21:00, 27 April
- The Brabanthal, on the out-skirts of Leuven, Belgium.
- Free entry.
- Free 10 minute shuttle bus ride to and from the De Lijn bus station in the town centre or …
- … travel via car and park up for €4. Go by bus though. It’s easy, regular and you’ll avoid any ‘drink-drive’ dilemmas.
- €3 deposit for your glass which you can keep as a souvenir or return for a refund.
- €1.40 wins you a token through ‘Advance Sales’ online or €1.50 at the festival. Hand over one token per 15 cl beer serving regardless of ABV for a complete bargain!
- €1.50 per item left in the cloakroom.
- €1.50 gives you all-day access to the scrupulously clean loos. They’ll stamp your hand and check it under a UV light whenever you answer the call of nature.
- €0.50 is a steal for a festival beer guide, available in either Dutch or English.
548 different beers from 100 brewers is a vast choice. Here are the numbers for 2014 with comparisons to their breakdown in 2013.
- Amber 15/-21
- Barley wines 20/-4
- Bière Champenoise 3/-1
- Blonde, golden, honeyed 84/+19
- Brune, dubbel, strong dark ale 74/+6
- Faro, draught geuze, geuze, lambic, oude geuze, sour 32/+4
- Flanders red ale/oud bruin 19/+3
- Fruit 26/+4
- Kriek, oude kriek, kriekenbier 15/0
- Other 19/+7
- Pale ales, including American, IPA, strong pale ale 90/+2
- Lagered beers, including pilsners and Dortmunders 9/+2
- Saison 19/+2
- Stout, from milk to Russian Imperial 26/+2
- Tripel 77 /+10
- Wheat 17/-13
- Unknown 3/+1
Set squarely within my sights this time around are:
- t’Horbouwerijke – fruity porter ‘Anarkriek’.
- Alvinne – Sours, barrel-aged beers and Russian Imperials.
- Blaugies – ‘Hill Farmstead La Vermontoise’ saison.
- BOM BrouwerijTriporteur – odd-ball sour creation ‘Wild & Funky’ made using three fermentation techniques.
- Brouwerij De Brabandere – New kid on the block ‘Feestbier 1894’ is already receiving favourable reviews on Ratebeer and Untappd.
- Brouwerij De Dochter van de Korenaar – Expect the DvdK stand to draw crowds many rows deep. Arrive early to partake of their exciting range, avoid peak rush-hour waiting times and while the complete range is available – some of the stock ran out on Saturday last year and they returned on Sunday morning with re-supplies!
- Boon, Brouwers Verzet, Gueuzerie Tilquin and Timmermans – For classic lambics, guezes and oud bruins.
- De Ranke – ‘XXX Bitter’ is out! My heart skipped a beat upon hearing about this new release.
- De Struise – Too many top quality options to mention. Over the course of the weekend I’ll probably wear a path on the floor between my seat and the De Struise stand.
- St Bernardus – Exciting new beers ‘Grotten Santé’ and ‘Wipers Times 14’.
- Van Eecke – For a change of pace and their beautifully floral, hoppy pales.
- Samples from various new micros like Brasserie d’Ebly, Brouwerij Eutropius, De Hopjutters.
This fabulous selection will easily enough keep you and your taste-buds entertained all weekend.
The successful ZBF format lead to its relocation from Antwerp to Leuven in 2012 and the festival attracted 17,000-18,000 over the weekend last year. Yet, the organisers strive to improve and have delivered the following tweaks in 2014:
- Pay on-site with your credit card.
- Book glasses, tokens and guide books in advance.
- Attend any or all of three Sunday afternoon workshops. The guest speakers will give insights into organic beers, beers of the Wallonian south and women’s importance in brewing history.
And then there’s more
The festival isn’t the only event going on in Leuven this weekend. You can celebrate beer in other ways too:
- Join one of several brewery tours, for example, to Timmermans, Hof ten Dormaal or Palm, it’s up to you.
- Tag along to a guided town centre pub tour or guide yourself on bicycle while staying sober enough to ride it.
- Learn about food pairing with Belgian beers or how to cook with them.
Leuven and Zythos host one hell of an homage to Belgian brewing. Last year’s event was a triumph and our planning machine is already in gear for a 2015 return. Why not? Belgian beer festivals simply don’t come any better than this!
- BeerAdvocate for beer ratings
- Bruges Bier Festival for background information
- Good Beer Guide – Belgium by Tim Webb and Joe Stange. Also an added bonus, take along your copy of the book on Sunday and Tim and Joe will sign it for you.
- RateBeer for beer ratings
- Zythos Bierfestival for nearly everything else.
- Many thanks again to Yannick de Cocqueau, who’s helping to organise the festival, for answering my e-mails to help categorise the style of certain beers and confirm the final beer list. Hopefully we’ll share a beer this year.