Bryan Kolesar of The Brew Lounge won Philly Beer Week's annual raffle, sending him and a local brewer of his choice to Belgium. Kolesar chose John Stemler of Free Will Brewing in Perkasie, and the two are now in Brussels to work on the annual collab beer to be served during Philly Beer Week, May 29 to June 7. The two will contribute blog posts to Philly.com during their trip.
Check in to Philly Beer Week for more information.
Here is Bryan's fifth entry:
Let's see now. How did I describe the way that yesterday might go? I think I might have used the word epic. Let me think on that for a minute… yup, we're going to stick with that: Epic.
The day was so epic, in fact, stringing together too many paragraphs would still not do the day justice. So I'll stick with some of the most important keywords that should describe the day before the big brew day.
A well-deserved and restful sleeping in until 10 a.m. after a 12-hour day in Bruges.
Five hours at Cantillon sipping and savoring some of the most sought-after beers for those beer lovers of the sour/tart/funky variety.
Cantillon has been around for more than 100 years and owner Jean Van Roy's family brewery drew more than 45,000 visitors in 2014. Not bad for a brewery that, 25 years ago, annually produced less than 10 batches of beer. In 2014, Cantillon made 32 batches and anticipates 42 in 2015 before ramping up to 50 or more batches when the new facility is fully utilized for additional storage.
If visiting Brussels, beer lovers should find their way to Cantillon, a few blocks from the Brussels-Zuid train station. Even for those not a fan of the sour style of beer might find the brewery of interest since it doubles as a museum and self-guided tours through the cobweb-strewn and barrel-filled.
Bring a sandwich, too, as the tasting room has tables with room to relax and enjoy what some call the best beers – or at least their favorite style – on the planet. When ready to leave, you'll be able to take the brewery's bottled beers – thoughtfully well-packed for air travel – apparel, and glassware home from the retail shop.
As if an afternoon at Cantillon was not enough –is it ever enough? – dinner at Nuëtnigenough (can you guess how that translates? "Never enough") followed. Black pudding, soup de poisson, and whole trout were just a few of the delectable dishes from the kitchen gracing the table along with beers from Brasserie de la Senne (owner Yvan De Baets joined us as well) like Stouterik and Zinnebir made for excellent combinations as did Dupont Rédor and Hanssens Oude Geuze at this well-regarded restaurant just around the corner from the famed Mannequin Pis.
Nightcaps (because a singular nightcap is not sufficient) at Moeder Lambic were the last order of business for the evening where impressive beers from around the world, but primarily Belgium, are served with all the care in the world. John and I both discussed this excellent beer bar in a blog installment earlier this week.
Epic, indeed. Next up is the reason why this trip came about in the first place: the collaboration brew day at Hof ten Dormaal in Tildonk.
Bryan Kolesar of The Brew Lounge is author of the forthcoming Beer Lover's Mid-Atlantic, May 2015
John Stemler, brewmaster at Free Will Brewing Company, was tied up with brewing issues. His dispatches will continue.