Belgian Beer, Trappist Beer, Rauchbier (Smoke Beer or Smoked Beer) from Bamberg, Craft Beer from the USA and Canada, and Real Ale from the UK, and other types of Speciality Beer are promoted on this, the White Beer Travels website. But what's in a name, the site's name that is? All is revealed on the Home Page! Schneider Weisse, a well-travelled, classic Wheat/White Beer, brewed in Bavaria by Schneider.  Click on the image to go to their website This Web page covers preparatory Beer Hunts for Belgian Beer that have taken place between 1995 and 2004.  The places visited could eventually be incorporated, or have already been incorporated, into White Beer Travels Beer Hunts. Click here for the companion page that covers Belgian Recces from 2005 onwards
Belgian Beer, German Beer, British Real Ale, North American Craft Beer and Speciality Beer and Specialty Beer from around the world, are all covered in this White Beer Travels website This White Beer Travels website has been in operation since March, 2002.  It promotes Speciality/Craft Beer from around the world: Belgian Beer, German Beer, Craft Beer from the USA and Canada, Real Ale from the UK, etc
 
Click here  to reach the "White Beer Travels" Home PageClick here for Speciality Beer and Brewery News.  Also check out the "Archives" for "old" news!Click to find details of Beer Hunts that you can joinClick here to get information on Past Beer Hunts organised by White Beer TravelsClick here for information on what to expect on a typical Beer Hunt organised by White Beer TravelsYou are on a page of a White Beer Travels "Pub of the Month".  For the current "Pub of the Month" click hereClick here for John White's Beer CV (Curriculum Vitae, Résumé) Click here for past Pubs of the Month, News, etcClick here for downloadable guides to places, breweries and barsClick here for "Links" to other websites. There are many on the other pages of the site, as well!Click here for full details on how to contact White Beer TravelsClick here for information on how the site was built, including acknowledgement of any help receivedClick here for details of the French to English Translation Service offered by White Beer Travels, & for the contact details of organisations that can provide the reverse
Belgian Beer and other great Speciality/Craft Beers, these including Belgian Beer, Real Ale from the UK and Craft Beers from the USA and Canada, are promoted on this, the White Beer Travels website.  It is a big site, so to get an outline idea of the contents, click here to go to the site's Contents page
  Würzburg, in Germany, is world-renowned for its "Franken" wines. However, White (Wheat) Beers have certainly travelled to the city.  The three different ones shown here are excellent examples. All are brewed in the city's Würzburger Hofbräu Brewery. Click on the glasses to go to the brewery's website, from which the image was pasted

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Please Click Here to Bookmark this White Beer Travels "Belgian Beer Recces 1995-2004" page

Your cursor is on a photo taken in In De Verzekering Tegen De Grote Dorst (Insurance Against The Big Thirst), Frans Baetensstraat 45, Lennik/Eizeringen, Belgium. Click on it to go to the place's website

The above photo was taken by John White, in August, 2003. In it are four members of the Panneels family, in their bar, In De Verzekering Tegen De Grote Dorst, in Lennik, in the Payottenland, in the Belgian Province of Flemish Brabant (Vlaams-Brabant). In the middle are the brothers Kurt and Yves, with their parents, Lydia and Maurice Panneels. It was a joy to watch the harmony between the family as they poured the rare Lambics and Gueuzes that we were offered, and served us a very good lunch. The place is very, very special, as the testament from well-respected beer fans (including fellow Beer Hunt organiser, Chris (Podge) Pollard, and Lorenzo (Kuaska) Dabove, the Prince of the Payottenland (prins van het Pajottenland), www.kuaska.be (English-language version), www.kuaska.it (Italian version)), on De Dorst's website, attests. Click here for Podge's contact details. Click here for a White Beer Travels Web page dedicated to Kuaska.

   

Beer Hunt Reconnaissance Trips in Belgium, from 1995 to 2004

This page and a companion one, provide details of miscellaneous recce trips in Belgium, that are listed with equivalent trips undertaken elsewhere, in the site's Recce page, which can be reached by clicking here. Most of the places covered will be incorporated into future White Beer Travels Beer Hunts, indeed some have already been, such as the place featured at the top of this page, click here fo more details.

The following are all the Belgian recces from 1995 onwards; click on the titles to get more details of them:

 

2004: Trip featuring: the St.-Bernard Brewery's B&B, 't Brouwershuis, in Watou;
and Ostend, for its De Bierjutterij (Beer Festival)

On this trip, two nights were spent in a superb B&B, 't Brouwershuis, which is within the grounds of the St.-Bernard Brewery, in Watou, The B&B and the brewery are covered in a White Beer Travels Web page, covering the Speciality Beer scene, in and around Watou, which can be reached by clicking here.

Your cursor is on a photo taken inside the Estaminet Saint Gilles, Craywick, France, one of the country's best bars

The above photo of John White, in the Estaminet Saint Gilles, was taken by White Beer Travels Beer Hunt regular, Dr Eric Clow, in July, 2004. Resting on the place's magnificent stove is a bottle of one of France's very best Specialty Beers, Cuvée des Jonquilles, which is brewed in Gussignies, by the Brasserie Bailleux (Au Baron).

En route to Watou from Calais, we visited a truly classic bar, in France, the Estaminet Saint Gilles, in Craywick, see below for contact details and how to find it. Draught beers include Poperings Hommelbier and Het Kapittel Blond at €3. Bottles include Tripel Karmeliet and Charles Quint at €4 (33cl) and some of the best of the local French Speciality Beers in 75cl bottles, all at €9: Amadeus Bière Blanche; Cuvée des Jonquilles; 3 Monts; La Blonde d'Esquelbecq; L'Ambrée d'Esquelbecq; and Rouge Flamande. These are available in the adjoining shop at €7.10.

Time was also spent in Ostend for De Bierjutterij, an excellent beer festival, organised by De Oostendse Bierjutters (DOB, The Ostend Beercombers, www.deoostendsebierjutters.org, White Beer Travels Web page) branch of Zythos (www.zythos.be, White Beer Travels Web page). It is generally held on the second Saturday in July, i.e. the details for the 2006 festival are: Saturday, the 8th of July, from 11am until 1am. Entry to the festival is free, beer being sold in "test glasses" of 15cl, indeed, the festival's slogan is: "Don't Drink Beer! Test It!" Tokens cost €0.50; if one buys ten, one gets one free and DOB or Zythos members get three free tokens. Beers cost one, two or three tokens depending on their strength, with spontaneously fermented beers (Lambic derivatives) also costing three tokens. Full details of the festival can be found in the White Beer Travels guide to Ostend and the Belgian Coast, which can be obtained from the Downloads page. We stayed at the Strand Hotel (Visserrkaai 1, tel 059 70 33 83, www.strandhotel.be), which is superbly situated on the atmospheric Fish Quay, and is very close indeed to the beer festival venue and the railway station.

Your cursor is on a photo This is a photo taken inside one of the very best Speciality Beer bars on the Belgian coast: De Torre, in De Haan.  Click on it to go to the place's website
Your cursor is on a scan of a very special beer from 3 Fonteinen, in Beersel, Belgium. Click on it to see a higher resolution version of it

Opportunity was also taken to renew acquaintances with two of the most respected bar owners in Belgium. In the photo, above left, which was taken by my "Second Petal", Sylvia Clow, I am pouring out 3 Fonteinen's Kriek van Schaerbeekse Krieken (Kriek from Schaarbeek Cherries) (see label, above right: click on it for a high resolution version), which has just been delivered by Daniel Dumon of De Torre (www.detorre.be), in De Haan, which is readily reached from Ostend by coastal tram. The empty bottle that this magnificent beer is following is on Daniel's tray: 3 Fonteinen Millennium Geuze. This is the third last bottle of this truly world-class beer; Daniel assured me that he is going to drink the last one himself!

Your cursor is on a photo taken in the bar of the Hotel Erasmus, in Bruges (Brugge), in Belgium. It probably has the best selection of draught Speciality Beer in the world, quality-wise. Click on the photo to go to the hotel's website

The absolute pinnacle of draught beers is represented by the photo to the left, which was taken by Joyce White, in the bar of the Hotel/Restarant Erasmus (www.hotelerasmus.com) in Bruges, which is under a quarter of an hour by train from Ostend. I have a glass of Keyte; click here for further information on this beer. Erasmus's Tom Allewaert has a glass of the magnificent Moinette Blonde. Other bars have Keyte on draught, but Tom is the only one to have to have an unfiltered version of it, which he arranged directly with its brewer, Marc Strubbe.

2003: Trip featuring the O.B.E.R. Christmas Beer Festival (Kerstbierfestival), Essen, with update recces in Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent

The superb two-day Christmas Beer Festival (www.kerstbierfestival.be, White Beer Travels Web page), which is run in December each year by the Zythos branch, O.B.E.R. (Objectieve Bierproevers Essense Regio - Essen Area Objective Beer Tasters, www.ober.be), takes place in Essen, in Antwerp Province.

This 2003 recce visit to the Christmas Beer Festival was part of a trip, which included other places in Belgium and in France. The Essen aspects of this trip are covered in a White Beer Travels Web page devoted to Essen and its Christmas Beer Festival; it can be reached by clicking here. On the trip, some marvellous Speciality Beer places in Ghent that had not been visited before were checked out: the Trappistenhuis (www.trappistenhuis.be); Aba-Jour (Oudburg 20, tel 09 234 07 29 ); and the Belga Queen (Graslei 10, tel 09 280 01 00, www.belgaqueen.be). The Belga Queen opened in July, 2003, in the same building, alongside the city's oldest harbour, as the former Het Spijker, "The Staple House", the oldest building on what many guidebooks describe as the "world's most beautiful quay". Like its namesake in Brussels (32, rue Fossé aux Loups (Wolvengrachtstraat), tel 02 217 21 87, www.belgaqueen.be) and the Grand Café Horta, in Antwerp (Hopland 2, tel 03 232 28 15, www.grandcafehorta.be), the Ghent Belga Queen has very good food, including beer cuisine, and twenty or so beers, including unfiltered Palm on handpump. These and other great Specialty Beer outlets in Ghent are covered in the fifty-one page White Beer Travels guide to the city, that can be obtained from the site's Downloads page.

An evening was spent, in the small town of Damme, near Bruges, in d'oude speye, an excellent 200-beer place that opened in June, 2003, which immediately became by far the best place in Damme for Specialty Beer. Sadly, due to ill-health, its proprietor Philippe Milants, in 2006, had to leave the place, and the new people in charge got rid of all the beers.

Your cursor is on a photo taken in d'oude speye, Damme Belgium.  It was the best Speciality Beer bar in this little town near Bruges

This photo was taken in d'oude speye, Damme, by Damme resident, Carina Vermeirsch, in December, 2003.

In the photo on the left, on my visit to d'oude speye, I was in the company of, from left to right: Matthew Wilson (MatW), John White (me), JezzaP, Theresa Zlonkiewicz, Joris Pattyn and his wife Lut, and Katrien and her husband, Filip Geerts of the Belgian Beer Board (www.belgianbeerboard.be). On the table is a bottle of Kriek van Schaerbeekse Krieken (Kriek from Schaarbeek Cherries), from 3 Fonteinen (www.3fonteinen.be). Yes, this place had a seriously good beer list that was particularly strong on Lambic derivatives such as this world-class rarity. It will be sorely missed. Further details of Filip's message board are to be found on the White Beer Travels Reciprocal Links page, which can be reached by clicking here.

Accommodation on the trip included the Hotel/Restarant Erasmus, in Bruges (www.hotelerasmus.com); its bar probably has the best selection of draught Belgian Speciality Beers in the world; on the visit these included unsweetened Liefmans Kriek (this being the only outlet) and Stille Nacht that had been kept in the cellar for a year. Both were truly superb. See above for a photo taken on a subsequent visit to the Hotel/Restarant Erasmus.

2003: October Visits to the Rochefort and Orval Trappist Breweries and to the Achouffe, St-Feuillien and Het Anker Breweries, and Les 3 Fourquets

A photographic White Beer Travels record of the Rochefort visit can be seen by clicking here. The visit was organised by Chuck Cook, a correspondent with Celebrator Beer News (www.celebrator.com). I am very grateful to Chuck for organising the visit, and of course, to Rochefort for giving the go-ahead and being such magnificent, hospitable and open hosts. Others on the visit were: Tim Webb (Good Beer Guide Belgium (www.booksaboutbeer.com, White Beer Travels Web page)), and co-author with my fellow Beer Hunt organiser, Podge, of LambicLand LambikLand (click here for details); one of the biggest names in Belgian Beer, Hoegaardier, Pierre Celis (1925-), of Hoegaarden and Celis White fame, and his colleagues Es Emiel and Roland van den Borne; Yvan De Baets, the co-organiser of the excellent Bruxellensis Beer Festival (www.festivalbruxellensis.be, White Beer Travels Web page) and formerly of the Brewing School, at the "Institut Meurice", in Brussels (www.meurice.heldb.be), and now with the "Brasserie de la Senne" (De Zenne Brouwerij) (www.brasseriedelasenne.be); Fred Waltman (websites on beer in Franconia (www.franconiabeerguide.com) and Los Angeles (www.labeer.com)); home brew expert, Tom Rierson; and John Allison (the Webmaster of the Boulder, Colorado-based "Hop Barley and the Alers" Homebrew Club, hopbarley.org).

On another trip organised by Chuck, we were down to myself, Fred, Tom and John Allison. The visit to Orval was a return one, following a visit there by White Beer Travels Beer Hunters in 1997, see Past Beer Hunts. The two visits are extensively documented in a White Beer Travels Web page that can be reached by clicking here. This contains an extensive history of Trappist Monasteries and breweries, as well as focussing on Orval.

Achouffe (www.achouffe.be) &
Les 3 Fourquets
(www.les3fourquets.be)

John White organised the visit to Achouffe, which he had previously visited with his White Beer Travels Beer Hunters, on the same day as the 1997 trip to Orval, see above and the Past Beer Hunts and Build pages of the White Beer Travels website. Present on the visit, were those on the Orval trip, plus Pierre Celis and his two colleagues. Pierre was eighty-one years old on the 21st of March, 2006.

Your cursor is on a photo taken in the Achouffe Brewery, Belgium. Click on it to go to the brewery's website
Your cursor is on a photo taken in Les 3 Fourquets, Gouvy, Belgium. Click on it to go to the place's website

The above picture on the left shows: Achouffe's joint owner, Chris Bauweraerts; John White; and Pierre Celis, the Belgian Witbier (White Beer - Wheat Beer) legend (click here for a White Beer Travels Web page featuring him). It was taken by Fred Waltman, in October, 2003, in the bar/restaurant alongside the Achouffe brewery, where one can order some exceptionally good food, and, of course, drink the brewery's great beers.

Hoegaardier, Pierre Celis (1925-) saying "Celis"

Whilst at Achouffe, Fred asked Pierre how his surname was pronounced. Pierre obliged by saying it in French, Flemish (Dutch) and American English, Fred recording it with his digital camera. Click on the Play Button (first button) of the player to the right; it is Fred who can be heard saying "OK" and "Thank you".

In August of each year, Achouffe holds a marvellous event called The Grande Choufferie; in 2005, it runs from Friday, the 5th to Sunday, the 7th of August. A good bet for accommodation is just up the road from Achouffe: "Les Onays" (www.les-onays.com), a residential park with thirty-two cottages, of various sizes, taking four, six, seven, eight, twelve, or fourteen people. As well as being handy for La Grande Choufferie, the cottages are handily placed for touring the Ardennes.

Les 3 Fourquets

Whilst at Achouffe, a brief visit was made to a new Restaurant/Bar/Brew-Pub, Les 3 Fourquets (The 3 Mashing Forks), a joint venture between the two partners in Achouffe, Chris and his brother-in-law, Pierre Gobron, and renowned local chef, Gilles Poncin. It is to be found in nearby Courtil-Gouvy. Its restaurant and bar/bistro opened a couple of days after my visit and the brewery produced its first brew on the 12th of February, 2004 (provisionally called "Brassin 1" (Brew 1)), was available, where it was called La Fourquette, at the Zythos Beer Festival (www.zbf.be), in March, 2004, and superb it was too. Click here for a White Beer Travels Web page featuring the festival. However, enough was gleaned on the visit prior to its opening to convince me that a return visit will be essential. Les 3 Fourquets is on the N892 national road in Courtil, close to where it joins the N878, by the church in Courtil. There is a map with GPS co-ordinates on the place's beer mats; there is also a map on the place's website. En route from Achouffe one can pass the brewery's impressive bottling plant, on the N30, in Fontenaille, near junction 51 of the E25 motorway. The bottling plant was supplied by Krones from Germany (www.krones.com), who equipment is also installed in two other places featured in this recce, Rochefort and Orval.

As the Achouffe beers are quite strong, the two house beers are weaker. There is a permanent draught/tap beer, a Wheat Beer, La Fourquette (Blanche d'Ardenne) (5%), which is €1.60 for a 25cl glass, but it can, somewhat unusually be purchased by weight, i.e. two kilograms "en carafe" is €11.50. These are May, 2005 prices, as per the following other draught beer prices: Achouffe's La Chouffe and McChouffe at €2.10/€2.30); and Simon Pils from the Brasserie Simon (www.simonpils.lu), in Wiltz, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, at €1.40. The bottled Achouffe Christmas Beer, N'Ice Chouffe, is €7 (75cl). One can also have a Chouffe <<Royale>> and a Chouffe <<Impériale>>, for €3, these respectively having Crème de Cassis (Blackcurrant-based liqueur) and Mandarine Napoléon added to La Chouffe.

Of major interest is the one called Bière du Moment (Beer of the Moment). This is a one off brew, produced by a guest brewer. The first brewer was Jerôme Denys of the Cheval Blanc Brew Pub, which once used to brew an Achouffe beer under licence, in Montreal; it is now brewed by Brasseurs R.J. (www.brasseursrj.com), in Montreal, which is a merging of three small breweries, including a Cheval Blanc (White Horse), see the White Beer Travels page on Montreal, by clicking here, for more details. Pierre Celis, see photo above, has also been a brewer of the Bière du Moment; he was present when the first beer was brewed, see above. Pierre was eighty years old on the 21st of March, 2005. Shortly afterwards, in May, 2005, he produced a beer at Les 3 Fourquets to celebrate this, called La Célisette (8.5%), which is brewed to the pre-Interbrew Hoegaarden Grand Cru recipe. Another interesting beer, produced after this, was La Bleuette (5%), this being a modelled on a beer produced by Folie Douce (5%) brewed by Brasseurs R.J.. This is La Fourquette flavoured with Blueberry (US/Canada) (Huckleberry, Bilberry (UK), Bleuet/Bluet in Québécoise, Myrtille in French). In 2006, the renowned beer writer, Garrett Oliver (www.garrettoliver.com), the brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery (www.brooklynbrewery.com), in New York City, came to Les 3 Fourquets, and brewed a superb, American-accented Belgian Beer called La Brooklynette.

On the ground floor of Les 3 Fourquets, there is an up market restaurant, example dishes inluding (July, 2005 prices): Cabillaud rôti aux crevettes grises (Roast Cod with Shrimps) at €20; Côte de veau à la McChouffe Veal cooked in McChouffe at €18; and Poêlée d'écrevisses à l'armoricaine (Fried Crawfish, Brittany Style), a starter at €14. There is usually always a dish cooked with the Beer of the Moment. On the first floor, meals are simpler and the place is more beer-orientated. The décor is excellent, see the trendy coat hanger above, with Chris pointing to the three mashing forks. Also note his Cheval Blanc, Montreal jacket, see below. The whole concept of the place is top-class and the food, under the control of Gilles, is excellent. The brewery installed in Les 3 Fourquets was initially shown at a major brewing industry trade fair, Brau Beviale (www.brau-beviale.de), which is held in Nürnberg (Nuremberg), in Franconia, Germany. It was on the FOODING booth, the German designer of the brewery. FOODING (www.fooding.com) served draught La Chouffe. In 2007, Brau Beviale runs from Wednesday the 14th, to Friday the 16th of November. A thirty-one page White Beer Travels Guide to Nuremberg is available from the Downloads page.

Les 3 Fourquets is open every day from 11am. apart from in Winter, when it does not open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (unless they are National Holidays and School Holidays).

St-Feuillien Brewery, Le Roeulx (www.st-feuillien.com)
Your cursor is on a photo of the exterior of the St-Feuillien brewery, Le Roeulx, Belgium. Click on it to go the brewery's website. From the photo, it can be seen that it was formerly the Friart Brewery
Your cursor is on a photo taken within the bar of the St-Feuillien brewery, Le Roeulx, Belgium. Click on it to to go the brewery's website

Saint Feuillien, was an Irish monk, who had an Abbey named after him, in Le Roeulx, which is between Charleroi and Mons, in Wallonia. As happened with many Abbeys, it was sacked at the time of the French Revolution, and now there are just remnants of it left. The present St-Feuillien brewery is on the site of a brewery that opened in 1873. It has undergone a number of name changes; until recently it was the Brasserie Friart (Friart Brewery), see the Brasserie Friart lettering in the photograph of its impressive brickwork, above left, both these photos being taken by John White, in October, 2003. Indeed Madame Dominique Friart is at the helm, following its renaming as the St-Feuillien brewery.This visit was undertaken by myself, Tim, Fred, Tom and John Allison, and organiser, Chuck. It was visited en route to the base for the above visits, La Roche-en-Ardenne, the base for a White Beer Travels visit in 1997, see Past Beer Hunts.

Outside and in, the St-Feuillien brewery is a most pleasant example of industrial architecture. However, does the now St-Feuillien brewery brew? I ask this, as it is no secret that breweries such as Du Bocq (www.bocq.be), in Purnode, in Wallonia, and the Heineken-owned, Affligem, in Opwijk, in Flemish Brabant, produce a large proportion of their beers. The evidence from the visit, is that they do brew and they do it well. So what do they brew? The following is a rough resumé of what Madame Friart stated. Du Bocq brew the St Feuillien Blonde and Brune that is available in 33cl and 75cl bottles. Beer sold in bigger sized bottles than this is brewed and bottled by St-Feuillien itself; these bottles range in size from 1.5 litre (Magnum) to 9 litre (Salmanazer), or even bigger, the 16 litre Nebuchadnezzar. The Grisette range of beers is brewed by Affligem. St Feuillien Triple in all bottle sizes is brewed by St-Feuillien. The Christmas Beer, St Feuillien Cuvée de Noël, is brewed at Affligem, when seen in up to 75cl bottles, and by St-Feuillien in bigger bottles. On the visit, we also sampled St Feuillien Easter Beer (7.5%), which is brewed at St-Feuillien for the Danish market, but, may appear in Belgium from 2004. The importer of the Danish beer declared on the label was Theo Brand A/S.

A report on a subsequent visit to St-Feuillien by Chuck Cook can be seen by clicking here. Note that the middle photo was taken in St-Feuillien, not Dupont, as it states in the article. Chuck is a correspondent with Celebrator Beer News (www.celebrator.com).

In summary, St-Feuillien produce some excellent beers, the brewery, at 20, rue d'Houdeng (tel 064 66 21 51), which is right in the centre of Le Roeulx, being well worth visiting. It is easily found by road. If one leaves junction 21 of the E19 motorway, the N55 national road to the centre of Le Roeulx leads directly to the brewery; it is on the right, soon after traffic lights. In the photo, above right, St-Feuillien's Brewmaster, Alexis Briol, is pouring from a Magnum of the brewery's St Feuillien Brune. In the background, behind the brewery's hospitality bar, is Madame Friart; note the St Arnold font. St Arnold is the Patron Saint of Belgian brewing. Le Roeulx and nearby La Louvière are world-renowned for four hydraulic boat-lifts on the historic Canal du Centre, see www.canal-du-centre.be. These lifts are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, see whc.unesco.org/pg.cfm?cid=31 for the full, world-wide list.

A visit to Mechelen was made by John as a recce, since Mechelen and its Het Anker brewery and its excellent bar/restaurant and other special bars, such as Den Stillen Genieter (Naarstraat 9, tel 015 21 95 05) and D'Hanekeef (Keizerstraat 8, tel 015 20 78 46) featured in a March, 2004 White Beer Travels Beer Hunt; click here for further details. Click on the heading of this section for the White Beer Travels page covering Mechelen.

2003: Podge's Trip, based in Brussels

This trip took place in August, 2003. As per a June, 2002 one, see below, it was superbly organised by Chris (Podge) Pollard, of Podge's Belgian Beer Tours. John White, of White Beer Travels, was one of the group on the tour. It unearthed some excellent places, many of which have subsequently featured in White Beer Travels Beer Hunt. To contact Podge by e-mail, click here, or on Contact Details, for his other contact details. Places featured that were new to John White included: the Gueuze Blenders De Cam (www.decam.be), in Gooik, in the Pajottenland; Hocus Pocus, a marvellous bar, that at the time of the visit was in Welle, in East Flanders, but has subsequently relocated "for a bigger cellar" to Nieuwenhove, which is near Geraardsbergen, which is also in East Flanders (Nieuwenhovestraat 12A tel 054 24 02 38, www.restauranthocuspocus.be, closed Tuesday and Wednesday); and an excellent Lambic bar in the Pajottenland, the Panneels family's In De Verzekering Tegen De Grote Dorst (Insurance Against The Large Thirst)(www.dorst.be (relays to dorst.eizeringen.tripod.com)), in Lennik/Eizeringen (Frans Baetensstraat 45, tel 02 532 58 58, GPS: 50.831728 N, 4.139892 E). Click here for a White Beer Travels Web page featuring "De Dorst".

In the photo to the right, which was taken by John White, in August, 2003, in the rear terrace of the Hocus Pocus, in Welle, its proprietor, Patrick Stevens, really looks the part, expertly pouring John a Rochefort 6o, one of a good number of rare beers on the place's ninety-strong list, including Slaapmutske Tripel, which is brewed at De "Proef" Brouwerij (BVBA Andelot (www.proefbrouwerij.com). Looking on is Joyce White. Note the spider's web on Patrick's apron; the place has a Witch theme. Note that the new place, has the same theme, even in its quite elegant restaurant. Hocus Pocus is run by Patrick and Hilde Eckaert.

Its beer list (old and new place) is particularly strong on Trappist beers. On my visit to the old place, they were very reasonably priced, for example the great Westvleteren 12o (ABT) was €3, the same price as in the brewery tap, In de Vrede, in Westvleteren at this time, see the White Beer Travels Web page featuring it, by clicking here.

Your cursor is on a photo taken in Hocus Pocus, an excellent Belgian Beer bar, that has subsequently been relocated to Nieuwenhove, in Belgium. Click on it to go to the place's website

The De Cam Oude Geuze is a blend of Lambics from Girardin, Lindemans, Boon and 3 Fonteinen; no one argued with the brewer, Karel Goddeau, when he said that the taste was dominated by the youngest Lambic, the Girardin, which was present in the highest proportion. In the Volkscafé "De Cam" (www.decam.be), the pleasant and good value bar/restaurant adjoining the De Cam blending facility (Geuzestekerij), handpumped De Cam Lambiek (brewed at 3 Fonteinen) was €1.50 and handpumped Kriekenlambiek was €1.80, and De Cam bottled "Guis" was €2.80/5 (37.5/75cl). These two draught beers are served in Crocks. Note that Guis is local dialect for Geuze, the menu being full of it, for example Meestersbier Blond (€2.30) also appears as Miëëstersbiê Bloother, and there are examples needing no translation, such as Wuutkap Stimulo at €2 and Wuutkap Tripiel at €2.30. There are Geuzes (€2.80 to €3.80 for 37.5cl), Krieks (€3 to €3.50 for 37.5cl) and Frambozen (€3.50) from Boon, Cantillon, Girardin and Lindemans, and beers such as Angerik's Boerke, Duvel, Westmalle Dubbel/Tripel, Orval and Rochefort 8o, all at €2.30. There are the usual hot and cold snacks and meals, such as: Balletjes met Krieken (Meat Balls with Cherries) at €6; Kaasschotel at €7; Stoofvlees met Geuze (Beef Stew cooked in Geuze) at €9.50; and Wafels, Tarts and Pancakes in the range €2-4.50. The Volkscafé "De Cam" is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am, with food from 11.30am to 2pm, and from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. It will open at other times by arrangement (tel 02 532 21 32). The close by bus stop for the De Lijn 157 and 162 buses is called "Koekoekstraat". The contact details for arranging a visit to De Cam's blending facility are given on the De Cam website under the heading Geuzestekerij.

2002: Podge's Trip based in Diksmuide & Ieper (Ypres)

This trip took place in early June, 2002. It was superbly organised by Chris (Podge) Pollard, of Podge's Belgian Beer Tours. John White, of White Beer Travels, was one of the group on the tour. It unearthed some excellent places, many of which were subsequently featured in White Beer Travels Beer Hunt. To contact Podge by e-mail, click here, or on Contact Details, for his other, er, contact details. Visits were made to five Breweries: Bockor (www.bockor.be), in Bellegem; Bavik-De Brabandere (www.bavik.be), in Bavikhove; the Ferme-Brasserie Beck (www.fermebeck.com), in Bailleul, in France; De Bie (www.brijdebie.be), and its tap, D'Hellekapelle, in Loker; and the Brouwerij t'Gaverhopke, in Stasegem (cmdstud.khlim.be/~hdhulster/gaverhopke). Bockor are best known for the Jacobins range of Lambic and Gueuze derivatives, including fruit beers, that are brewed outside of the traditional area for such beers. John was so impressed with the Ferme-Brasserie Beck (Beck Farm-Brewery), which is within two kilometres (1½ miles) of the Belgian border, in France, that he very quickly made it a site Pub of the Month. Click here to see its "Pub of the Month" write-up. Links to other such write-ups are to be found on the site's Archives page. He also incorporated it into one of his own group Beer hunts, see Past Beer Hunts.

Whilst in Ieper, we visited Ter Posterie (Rijselsestraat 57, tel 057 20 05 80, GPS: 50.848923o N, 2.886867o E), one of the country's best Specialty Beer bars, which has previously featured as an en route stopping place in the White Beer Travels Beer Hunt to Bamberg, in Germany, and elsewhere, in 1996, see Past Beer Hunts. Ieper is known world-wide as a place that was completely destroyed in WWI. Podge's group witnessed, as did the White Beer Travels Group, in 1996, the sounding of the Last Post (www.lastpost.be) , at the Menin Gate (Menenpoort), a world-renowned memorial to the incredible numbers of people who were lost in the war, but whose bodies were not recovered. The city's website, www.ieper.be, has details of this and links to sites such as www.inflandersfields.be, the website for the In Flanders Fields Museum covering the war, which is housed in the particularly impressive Cloth Hall (Lakenhalle), which has been completed restored after total destruction in the war. Note that a good way to approach the Menin Gate is to walk along the remnants of the city's Vauban ramparts, beyond Ter Posterie, at the Lille Gate (Rijselpoort). Actually butting on to the Ramparts is the Ramparts 1914-1918 War Museum and an associated pub/snack bar, which has around fifty beers: 't Klein Rijsel (The Little Lille) (Rijselsestraat 208, tel 057 20 02 36, GPS: 50.844672o N, 2.890348o E). Click here for a White Beer Travels Web page giving more details of it.

After the Last Post, there was a marvellous tutored beer and cheese tasting in the trip hotel, the excellent Hotel Ariane (Slachthuisstraat 58, tel 057 21 82 18, www.ariane.be), conducted by Jef van den Steen, Belgium's premier beer taster and a driving force in OBP (which was succeeded by Zythos (www.zythos.be and White Beer Travels Web page), in February, 2003)), the Belgian equivalent of CAMRA (www.camra.org.uk), i.e. its country's principal beer consumers' organisation. Jef coined De Zytholoog for the name of Zythos's magazine, information on this being given in the White Beer Travels Web page just cited. The tasting matched eight beers with eight marvellous Belgian cheeses, Jef providing an excellent commentary, justifying each pairing and providing appropriate anecdotes and history. Click here for information on De Glazen Toren (www.glazentoren.be), a brewery that Jef opened in 2004. The Hotel Ariane's website is a good information source on Ieper, with photos and links to appropriate websites.

Your cursor is on a photo featuring John White, Jef van den Steen and Filip Geerts at a Beer/Cheese tasting in Ieper, Belgium. Click on it to go to the Zythos website

This photo, which was taken by Joyce White, in June, 2002, shows, from left to right, John White, Jef van den Steen and Filip Geerts at Podge's Beer/Cheese tasting at the Ariane Hotel, in Ieper. www.belgischekazen.be is a Dutch/French-language website covering Belgian Cheese. Jef is an accomplished author; click here for the White Beer Travels review of his superb June, 2003 book covering Belgian Trappist Monasteries and their beers. Filip is a Speciality Beer enthusiast who was born and lives in Bruges, in Belgium. He has an excellent website, surf.to/beer, which has a superb list of beer links covering the Belgian Specialty Beer scene. Filip's other main site, Belgian Beer Pub Map, www.beerpubmap.be, is also top class. Note that Filip set up a Message Board, concentrating exclusively on Belgian Beer, in August, 2003, groups.yahoo.com/group/belgianbeer. Within only a few weeks, it had come and remains an indispensable resource.

Diksmuide, is well worth a visit, but is often hurried through on the way to the nearby village of Esen, home to the outstanding De Dolle Brouwers (Mad Brewers) brewery (www.dedollebrouwers.be), which has been visited on White Beer Travels Beer Hunts and recce trips, see Past Beer Hunts. From a Speciality Beer point of view, in Diksmuide, 't Brouwershuys (Grote Markt 19, tel 051 50 50 30, www.brouwershuys.com), should not be missed, when in the town. The Brewer's House has a collection of old brewery equipment all over the place. It is located on a corner of the town's particularly attractive main square, the Grote Markt, which can be overlooked if driving straight through the town. The trip hotel was right on the square, the pleasant, family-run De Vrede (Grote Markt 35, tel 051 50 00 38). Despite appearances, Diksmuide's main square dates from after WWI, the whole town, like Ieper, see above, having been destroyed during this conflict. Diksmuide tourist attractions include: the Ijzertoren (Ijzer Tower), a monument to peace, that is off Ijzerdijk; and Westoria, a museum illustrating the history of the town using modern technology, housed in a former Flour Mill (Bloemmolen) at Hof ter Bloemmolens 57 (tel 051 51 94 19). Westoria's cafeteria has some local beers. These two places and more are covered in the town's website: www.diksmuide.be.

Note that in October, there is an "Oktoberfeesten" (October Festival) in Diksmuide. This is extensively advertised by British Tour Operators as the "Diksmuide Beer Festival". Most of the thousands of British participants stay in Ostend. The bulk of the beer sold is undrinkable fizz, and the limited number of Specialty Beers available will not excite even the newcomer to Belgian Beer. Many guidebooks recommend avoiding Ostend and Diksmuide when the festival is on. The actual festival dates can be checked on the festival's website: www.beerfestival.be. The 2005 dates are Saturday, the 22nd and Saturday, the 29th of October, with later years at equivalent times. The entry charge is €3.

In a typically packed itinerary, visits were also made to a number of Speciality Beer places, particularly in the Kortrijk area and the little known, but extremely attractive Heuvelland (Hill Land) (www.heuvelland.be) area of Belgium, including: De Snoek Mout- en Brouwhuis/'t Brouwershof, a marvellous maltings/brewery museum, with a superb bar, in Alveringem (Fortem 40, tel 058 28 96 74, www.desnoek.be), the bar having beers from every brewery in West Flanders, and thus from De Dolle Brouwers (www.dedollebrouwers.be), who are connected with the place; the superlative Het Labyrint in Kemmel, see Past Beer Hunts; De Kauwackers in Heuvelland-Dranouter (Kauwackersstraat 1, tel 057 44 74 90), a De Bie house with a big selection of beers; 't Vossenhol, in Tiegem (Tiegemberg 22, tel 056 68 06 00) for good food and beer; La Brasserie Vanuxeem, in Ploegsteert (rue d'Armentières 150, tel 056 58 89 23, www.vanuxeem.be.tf), a former brewery, now a beer warehouse, with its own Queue de Charrue range of beers brewed by Verhaeghe (www.brouwerijverhaeghe.be), Bios and du Bocq; and the Kasteel Ingelmunster, for a showcase bar, De Kelder ("The Cellar" or De Kasteelkelder, The Castle Cellar), in the cellars of this castle owned by the Van Honsebrouck Brewery (www.vanhonsebrouck.be), in Ingelmunster, see Past Beer Hunts for details of the 2000 White Beer Travels visit there. Unfortunately, there was a serious fire in the castle, in September, 2001, which resulted in the castle itself being no longer open to the public, apart from its grounds and the pub, see www.kasteelingelmunster.be, which also covers De Kelder.

In Alveringem, 't Potje Paté (Kaatsspelstraat 1, tel 058 28 89 33), is a very nice bar/restaurant which opened in 2001. It describes itself as an Eet- Praat- and Kunstcafé, which means that food is available (which is detailed on the soon to be quoted website) and that one can engage in conversation whilst admiring the art that is displayed in the place. "The Little Pot of Paté" is next door, and an extension of, an excellent Charcuterie (Cold Meats, Paté Seller) De Veurn' Ambachtste (Kaatsspelstraat 5, tel 058 28 80 86, www.deveurnambachtse.be). Of course, products from the Charcuterie are available in 't Potje Paté, these including Patés made with beer, i.e. from a Westvleteren Trappist Beer, Liefmans Kriek, Straffe Hendrik, De Dolle Brouwers' Oerbier, Tripel Karmeliet and Poperings Hommelbier. 't Potje Paté has a very trendy interior, as can be seen from the photos on the website. The Charcuterie opened in 1984. 't Potje Paté is open every day except Monday from 10am. There is an associated Bed & Breakfast place, De Vijf Zinnen, details of which are given in the place's website.

2001: "Beer Traveller Tours" trip based in Ostend

There was a White Beer Travels trip to Ostend, in 2003, which is covered in Past Beer Hunts. The opportunity was taken to come on this Beer Hunt, based in Ostend, in December, 2001, as one of a number of recces for this trip. This 2001 trip was very ably run by Simon van Tromp, of Beer Traveller Tours. Click here to contact Simon by e-mail and on Contact Details for more information of Simon's tours and his excellent beer books, and his other contact details. The latter include Tromp's Beer Traveller in West Flanders. This covers well-known places but also obscure gems, such as De Leute, in Oeren (Oerenstraat 19, tel 058 28 81 47). This really is one not to be missed; there was a marvellous stop for lunch here on Simon's trip. This Beer Hunt was based in the Hotel Thevenet, Koningsstraat 61, tel 059 70 10 35. This is a most pleasant, well situated hotel, with a decent fifty plus beer list. Note that the town's Hotel Marion, which is covered in Past Beer Hunts, has over 300 different beers.

1995: Visit to Hasselt

These notes are based on a one-night visit to Hasselt, in December, 1995. It is a surprisingly smart place that merits being included in a White Beer Travels Beer Hunt, at some stage. The Bocholt Brewery Museum (Bocholter Brouwerijmuseum, www.bocholterbrouwerijmuseum.be), and the National Genever (Gin) Museum, in Hasselt itself, see below, are probable places, amongst others, that would be visited. A good time for a visit is one that coincides with the Weekend der Belgische bieren, which takes place in Hasselt. It is organised by De Limburgse Biervrienden, (www.limburgse-biervrienden.be), a regional Zythos organisation. In 2006, it commences on Friday, the 10th of November, see the website for further details.

Hasselt, in the Belgian Province of Limburg, is very compact; most of its attractions are within a ring road, probably on the site of former city walls. Note this is the inner ring road, the R70; the one signed is an outer one, the R71. Although little known in the beer world, when compared to Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges, it is clear from the limited recce, that it has many excellent bars, from a beer, visual appearance, and atmosphere points of view. Its Tourist Information Office is in the Stadhuis (City Hall), at Lombaardstraat 3 (tel 011 23 95 40, www.hasselt.be). The site for the Province of Limburg, of which Hasselt is the capital, is www.limburg.be. Only 8 kilometres (5 miles) from Hasselt, is a major tourist attraction, the Provinciaal Domein (www.bokrijk.be), at Bokrijk. This contains reconstructed old buildings; one houses brewery equipment from the Tomsin Brewery in Hoegaarden, which closed in 1957. In this brewery, Hoegaardier, Pierre Celis (1925-), worked with Louis Tomsin (1879-1967) before setting up his own 25 hectolitre brewery, in Hoegaarden (based on second hand vessels (wooden mash tun, red copper hot liquor tank and brew kettle)) from the Brouwerij Smeets in Zolder, in Limburg). Pierre got his operator's licence on the 1st of July, 1966, and soon after, in Hoegaarden, he produced Hoegaarden Witbier (White Beer) (initially called Oud Hoegaards (Old Hoegaarden)). The Tomsin Brewery equipment, and a reconstruction of its "Proeflokaal" (Tasting Room), complete with old glasses and beer jug, are installed in a brewery building, built in 1669, in Diepenbeek Diepenbeek, near Hasselt, in the Haspengouw part of Limburg, called the Paenhuis (alternative spelling is Pannehuis or Paenhuys), which is an old name for Brouwerij (Brewery). There is also a number of places serving beer within Bokrijk, including De Bierkelder (The Beer Cellar) (tel 011 26 54 18), which has over fifty Regional and Specialty Beers. This is in a cellar of a building that is part of De Oude Stad (The Old Town) part of Bokrijk; it represents a part of old Antwerp. There are frequent trains from Hasselt to the place, the journey time being only nine minutes. The number 1 bus from the railway stations in Hasselt and Genk, also go to Bokrijk. By road, follow the signs to "Park Midden Limburg (Bokrijk)". Note that local buses are free of charge in Hasselt, as is cycle hire. Presumably, Bokrijk, is not regarded as local, although the city's Japanese Garden (De Japanse Tuin) attraction, the biggest Japanese garden in Europe, can be reached by a free bus, the H3, every day except Sunday.

Hasselt is known in Belgium as the Jeneverstad, the Genever City, Genever or Jenever being Low Country Gin. The Nationaal Jenevermuseum (Witte Nonnenstraat 19, tel 011 24 11 44, www.jenevermuseum.be) is open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and 1pm to 5pm at the weekend. In April, 2002, entry was €3, or €2 per person for groups of fifteen or more; these prices include a Genever. This excellent museum is housed in a 19th Century distillery that is no longer operating, but much of its original equipment is part of the museum. A reasonable flavour of the museum can be obtained by just peering through the window, or from its excellent website. Its shop sells all the Genevers available in Belgium. The museum has an associated café; it has exceptionally cheap Genever. Smeets (www.smeets.be), the largest active Genever producer in Belgium, is based in Hasselt. Visits can be made, see their website. A novelty liqueur commonly seen all over Belgium is Hasseltse Koffie (Hasselt Coffee), which is clearly a premixed blend of Genever and Coffee. This is produced by Fryns (Olmenstraat 7, tel 011 28 19 57), another well known Genever producer in the city.

For the one night recce trip, we stayed in the Ibis Hotel (formerly the Arcade), Thonissenlaan 52 (tel 011 23 11 11), which is on the city's inner ring road, the R70, i.e. turn right on reaching it from the motorway, and the hotel is on the right. Turn immediately before it onto Manteliusstraat, where it should be possible to park, both a car or a coach.

Below is a selection of places that feature Speciality Beers, and some restaurants. There is also a great locals' bar that has a good selection of Genevers. Covered first are bars that are included in the usual beer guides.

Het Hemelrijk is in a corner, at Hemelrijk 11 (tel 011 24 22 00). It has a fairly basic interior compared to some other bars in the centre of Hasselt, but it is pleasant enough beer café. It has a large beer list, with around ten on draught, including De Koninck (€1.49 a Bolleke), La Chouffe (€2.11 for 25cl), and Het Kapittel Prior and ABT (both €1.98 for 25cl). On the recce, the food was not tried. It is understood that since this visit in 1995, that the place's beer policy could have taken a turn for the worse. Reports will be most gratefully received.

The Lucien Brasserie, Zuivelmarkt 22 (tel 011 24 30 30), is a don't-miss. There is a very large wall mural, a lovely wooden floor, interspersed with tiling, and chandeliers overhead. The serving bar is a massive semicircle with some interesting stuff behind it, including a number of drawers for whatever. There is a most relaxing atmosphere about the place. There is music, which is clear, but not intrusive. Food is particularly good. A special on the recce night, in December 1995, was a Monkfish (Lotte) and King Prawn (Scampi?) Kebab (Brochette) in a superb sauce. On the night it was Michelin-star quality - best Monkfish ever tasted - and thus a snip at €16.61. Snacks such as Croque Monsieur at €3.59 are also available. There were four draught beers. There were about thirty bottled beers, including: the excellent Martens Sezoens Quatro (€1.74), and Westmalle Dubbel (€1.86) and Tripel (€2.11); and Duvel (€2.23). There is also a good wine and Genever list. The only downer was that the moderate Grimbergen Abbey beers were incorrectly listed in the Trappist beer section of the beer card. It is open from 10am until 1am.

Het Martenshuys, at Zuivelmarkt 18 (tel 011 72 58 08), is quite naturally, an outlet for the famous Sezeons brewery, Martens (www.martens.be). This is fairly close to Hasselt, in Bocholt. From the photograph on the front of the beer card in the Martenshuys, the brewery looks well worth a visit: all shining copper. There was a number of Martens beers on draught, served in small elegant glasses, including Quatro (7%), at €1.24, Turbo, a reasonable Pils like beer, costing €1.12, which compares to €1.24 for the Martens Pils itself. Bottles beers include: Duvel (€2.35), Westmalle Dubbel (€2.11) and Tripel (€2.35). This is another smart place. Note the ornate dresser behind the bar, and the Martens slogan on the wall: "Sezoens. 'Limburgs Biere op z'n Best'", which essentially means "Limburg's Best Beers". It is open from 8.30am until midnight, on Monday to Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays, it opens at 11.30am.

Montmartre, Walputstraat 17, tel 011 22 40 10, was not visited in 1995, but Tim Webb, in an edition of his Good Beer Guide Belgium states that it has a " ... shortish but high quality beer list and good food". The following were "discovered" on the recce night. Those without phone numbers quoted are not listed in the Belgian telephone directories (www.infobel.be), so could be no more.

There will be other good places to discover, I am sure (reports please), but all those listed are worth visiting: 't Stookerijke (The Little Distillery), Hemelrijk 3, tel 011 22 63 48, is very close to the Hemelrijk, see above. It is a great locals' bar with a Wurlitzer juke box and a country appearance, despite being in the centre of a city. It has next to no beers of interest for the Specialty Beer Hunter, but has over eighty different Genevers to choose from, as you would expect from its name. The Majestic, Grote Markt, the [large] market square, is very elegant inside, with its wall coverings and chandeliers. Food, wine, Genever and beer are on offer. There are four draught beers, and about twenty, well selected bottles. Although nothing was sampled, it is a fair bet that it will be good, if looks are anything to go by. The European Art and Antique City, Havermarkt 41-43, is very smart, both inside and out. Havermarkt is a street leading West from Grote Markt, full of elegant shops, particularly those selling clothes; Hasselt has a reputation for fashion throughout Belgium. The restaurant has a small selection of beers, including a number of the classics. De Brouwerij, The Brewery, is a pleasant locals' bar, further down from the previous entry, on the right, when walking from the market square, at Ridderportmansstraat 2 (tel 011 22 55 46), on the corner of Ridderstraat. It does food. There are one or two draught beers of interest and around twenty in bottle. The Bistro 't Dorp, Dorpstraat, has good food, as befits its Bistro designation, in a city full of good eating places, although it has a most excellent locals' bar feel to it, rather than that of a Bistro's: the locals sit at the bar on stools. It is close to the Hotel Ibis, on the left, when taking the street into the city centre, across from the hotel. Het Borrelhuis, Witte Nonnenstraat 28 (tel 011 24 32 28, www.borrelhuis.be), is opposite the Jenevermuseum, see above. The Drink House is a very interesting, attractive restaurant; it has some old distillation equipment inside. There are a number of dishes cooked in Genever. It naturally has a good selection of Genevers, although it has about fifteen Speciality Beers.

For those whose main interest is food, the most promising restaurant in the city, based on the Michelin guide, is Figaro, at Mombeekdreef 38 (tel 011 27 25 56, www.figaro.be), which gets a good elegance rating.

 

 

John White (1945-), Your cursor is on an image of John White's e-mail address. Click on it to send an e-mail to John.

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Belgian Beer, such as Trappist Beer, which is just about the world's most renowned Speciality Beer (Craft Beer), is promoted on this website, along with great beer from all over the world
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Schneider Weisse, a well-travelled, classic Wheat/White Beer, brewed in Bavaria by Schneider.  Click on the glass to go to their website Click on this bottle of Schneider Weisse, to see that this White Beer has travelled to Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, in Spain's Canary Islands.  The photo, by Joyce White, features John White and White Beer Travels Beer Hunt regular, Dr Eric Clow, in the Mesón Andalucia, in May, 2004