Ah, yes, Belgium…

In the pursuit of hoppiness, Belgium seems to have become a little forgotten about…   Often, I get asked for my predictions, the looking into the ol’crystal bollocks  and picking out some winners for the grand national of beer.   Continue reading



You’ll know from previous articles (Here and here) that I and a few of us at Beermerchants.com are big fans of Lambic and Gueuze style beers. So much so,  it’s a close call if you were to say that if I had to pick between California or Payotenland, the home of this fantastic style of beer, I would really be stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place.


A recent trip to the hard place, to arrange for Gueuze for the site,  Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Oud Beersel, Girardin and De Cam – it’s always a pleasure… kinda… Continue reading

moules, frites and belgian beer.

In something of a justified plug for a chain of restaurants that have done a lot to bring quality beer for over 20 years, served with food, to many diners tables in the greater london area.  The first meeting  with Belgian Beer and food has often been at one of the distinctive Belgo restaurants.

The one that I tend to frequent is the Noord, with its cellar-like interior is wildly atmospheric, reminiscent of a couple of bars that I frequent when in Brussels.   This one,  split into two areas with curved walls and high glass ceilings. Round the walls the names of medieval fish are engraved, with an open plan kitchen, and a variety of the famous Belgo dishes served by waiters in traditional monks’ habits. Continue reading

Great British Beer Festival

It’s going to be a quiet time on here, over the next week as I to-and-fro from Earls Court.

Britain’s biggest beer festival
4-8 August 2009
Earls Court, London

The Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court, Britain’s biggest beer festival, brings together a wide range of real ales, ciders, perries and international beers. At least 450 beers available throughout, including golden ales, fruit beers, stouts, bitters and some international real lagers.

CAMRA Good Beer Guide to Belgium 2009

Good Beer Guide Belgium   Tim Webb, Sixth Edition

The Guide.

The Guide.

The complete package:  Good Beer Guide Belgium 2009 as well as a great selection of 21 classic and modern beers that put Belgium on the map as one of the great places to drink beer, plus a glass

Normal Price £61.14    Offer Price £44.00 a saving of over 25%

About: Good Beer Guide Belgium – 2009 –

In the Good Beer Guide Belgium 2009,  Tim Webb does a superhuman job chronicling the staggering array of breweries, beers, and bars in the Benelux region. I have referred to my weather beaten, beer stained and thoroughly thumbed copy on many a trip to Belgium, for me the book was indispensable. You probably can’t afford not to use this guide. Not all beers or bars are created equal, even in Belgium. With a limited time and traveller’s budget it would be impossible to have savoured as many beers as I have without Webb’s help.

Because the Benelux countries are among the most pleasant in the world and easiest to get around and travel in, you will not even need a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide–the important stuff (the beer!) is in Tim Webb’s book. You can easily find hotels, sightseeing info, and food when you are there, because the region is highly traveller-friendly. However, many of the local beer menus include thousands of offerings and so you can imagine how a guidebook like this might come in handy.

The Good Beer Guide Belgium 2009 will also help you decipher those book-long beer menus and select the right brew for you. With the guide in hand you also might find yourself in towns and villages you never would have visited otherwise, because you were drawn there for a Trappist monastery or a special little bit of brewing history. There are a smattering of other beer guides to the region but none even come close to this one!

Here you have an opportunity to grab both the book and great beers for a very special price!

Now in its sixth edition, CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide to Belgium is the essential guide book for any beer lover travelling to Belgium. Its outline of breweries, beers and bars is so impressive that it is acknowledged as the standard work for Belgian beer lovers, even in Belgium itself.

The book includes comprehensive advice on getting there, what to eat, where to stay and how to bring beers back home. The new edition is suitable for both leisure and business travellers as well as for armchair drinkers looking to enjoy a selection of Belgian brews from their local beer shop.

As well as describing over 1,000 beers from every Belgian brewery and a guide to over 600 quirky cafes in Belgium, the book also gives a comprehensive listing of the best UK outlets for Belgian beers.

This is a must for any lover of Belgium and its beers.

Well done Tim!

Brewery #2 to watch in 2009 – Lovibonds Brewery, Henley-on-Thames

Catching up with a serious backlog of blog entries washing around in my head, SF Beer week review, Belgian Brew News, Barcelona Updates… I started a series of Breweries to Watch in 2009 – here’s another one of the breweries that I have been really impressed with.

Jeff a native of Wisconsin, an ex-long time homebrewer and Brewing Network fan, came on my radar through his activities on the website ProBrewer some time ago – when he was asking about barrel ageing beers in the UK!

Most of us in the beer and brewing circles know about the Lovibond colour scale, but not many are aware of the history associated with the name. When Jeff Rosenmeier was looking for a site to expand he stumbled across a site in the centre of Henley-on-Thames and uncovered part of John Lovibond and Son’s rich history. Despite advice from many he chose to revive the use of the Lovibond name, founding Lovibonds Brewery in 2005.

I recently shared a couple pints with Jeff… Lovibonds has gained quite a following and not always from the typical British beer enthusiast. Jeff has found a small niche in the British beer market, preferring to compete with the big brewers instead of other local craft brewers. Jeff explains, “I started out with a couple firkins and I was really disappointed with the variable nature in which my beer was presented in the pub. The main issue with dispensing from a cask is that the publican is ‘venting and tapping’ the cask, thus opening the beer up to the cellar’s less than sanitary atmosphere, causing it to rapidly decline. My desire has always been to serve our beer in its best possible condition, on a consistent basis, and this method wasn’t cutting it for me.” To guarantee consistent quality for his customers, as well as provide 100% return for the publican or bar manager, Lovibonds decided to deviate from a majority of small independent brewers in the UK by serving their beer from ‘keg’.

Jeff says, “I had been using kegs as a home brewer for 10 years with great success. You could come to my house and I would have at least 3 different beers on at any given time. This system kept my beer fresh for months, with the beer often getting better all the time as it further conditioned. We decided that we would serve all of our beer this way, alleviating the risk of our beer being served in a poor condition.” Jeff also found that this unique system allowed them to market their beer to customers that wouldn’t otherwise have a local craft brewed option on the bar. Jeff says, “We found that there are many local independent bar, hotel and restaurant owners that want to have a locally crafted beer on offer, but don’t have the knowledge or guaranteed throughput to make cask beer viable. What they end up with is a selection of the same mega beers you see everywhere else. In this scenario, we are able to offer a local beer, completely unfiltered, unpasteurized and unadulterated in any way, in a package that the customer already understands.”

This tends to rub certain British beer enthusiasts up the wrong way, but Jeff states, “We have a lot of people that would normally drink a bland mega lager that now realise that they have an local alternative.  We are taking custom away from the big boys, not our friends at other local breweries.”

Henley Gold was the first beer in the line up and is Jeff’s interpretation of a Bavarian wheat beer.  Jeff says, “There are a lot of small brewers in the UK doing wheat beers, but I found myself disappointed with many of them.  The brewers tend to just add a little wheat and carry on using their house yeast strain…what you end up with is a slightly more refreshing Golden Ale.  I wanted to do this properly and we start with over 50% malted wheat and use a famous Bavarian yeast strain, Bavarian noble hops and follow Rheinheitsgebot [Bavarian purity law] to the letter.”  The result is a highly drinkable wheat beer with loads of character.

In addition to Henley Gold, Lovibonds produce Henley Amber, a low gravity session ale that showcases Jeff’s love of hops.  Henley Dark, recently winning Silver medal in the Regional SIBA competition, is inspired by the London Porters of old and is a blend of seven different malted barleys, including one that Jeff hand smokes with local beech wood.

Lovibonds are also producing a Reserve series, which are limited edition and packaged in individually numbered champagne style bottles, hand dipped in wax.  The first was released in May 2008, Lovibonds Dark Reserve No. 1, which started as a strong version (7.4%) of Henley Dark that aged in whiskey barrels in the Lovibond cellar for 6 months.  Lovibonds Gold Reserve (7.3%) was just released and is tagged a ‘Wheat Wine’.  Jeff explains, “Most people have heard of a barley wine, we wanted to spin off of this and took our Henley Gold recipe to the extreme.  When you have a big beer like that, you tend to loose drinkability.  To counteract the heaviness of that much wheat we chucked in over 60kg of local honey and fermented with our Henley Gold yeast.  The result is a rare treat, full of flavour and character, yet dangerously drinkable.

Rumour has it that Jeff is now setting his sights on producing a proper IPA, none of this 3.4% IPA rubbish…. given that he’s not adverse to hops.. rolllll on!

It’s always worth passing by, getting in contact – I was also drinking something completely accidental that was well…. if I said what it was that’d give the game away!

More information about Lovibonds Brewery can be found at their web-site www.lovibonds.com

Triple Rock Sour fest and Brewing Network

Tom Daldorf of the Celebrator

Sunday, 1pm – Berkeley – Triple Rock Brewery, the very same place that I brewed.  A Sour Fest, hosted by brewer extraordinaire Rodger Davis.  A great selection of Belgian and US sour Ales.  Sourced from contacts in the brewing world, pulling strings, to get the Beltheham beers!  A top fest that I can see getting very very big!  especially seeing the size that the Double IPA fest has become in a few years.

I kinda forgot to take some more pics, but memorable brews – Belthleham Framboise, EffinGreat,  and the Green Flash beer Sour Wench.

I did steer away from the Belgians seemed stupid to take the opportunity away from the locals…

Great to hang out with friends too, Steve (AgentSteve) and Steve Altamari – from Valley Brew.

Some how I made it to the Brewing Network show that night too!  despite my taxi driver getting completely lost.

Casa De La Meurte!

The BN Studio


It was great to hang out with these guys, but completely unexpectedly the grabbed me to come sit in as a guest on the show!?!  WTF!   I am a big fan of their humor I will admit, so I was buzzed to hang out with these guys.

Listen Here

Double IPA fest pics

Somehow my posts are posting out of calendar sync.  I think either my PC is suffering from Jetlag or something weird is happening!?

Scroll down and just read, it should sort itself out, I hope.

Vintage T-shirts Galore... 😉

Blue skies, just not as hot as last year...

Ratman, a Ratebeerian from Colorado!

King Henry's on Tour at the DIPA fest.

Fanboys - but my god was she cute!

A whole road blocked off this time, for 1000 people! nice work mr K!

The winners,  Judges,  – Poormans IPA* from Port Brewing.   People’s choice – Pliney the Elder, a perpetual favourite.  IIMAX from Rodger Davis at Triple Rock got the star of the show, the second placed People’s Choice.

The Winners
1st – Poor Mans IPA by Pizza Port
2nd – IIMAXX by Triple Rock
3rd – Apex by Bear Republic
4th – Pliny the Elder by Russian River

Great work again by Cynthia and Vic!

*I thought that it was the Hop15, but Kevin mailed to suggest it was the Poormans.  Just checked with Rick Sellars site – here – even if for some reason, I flew in from Belgium?!