Big Belgian Beer Tour
with Terrapin Beer Co.
Hosted by Owen Ogletree February 2009
Owen Ogletree & Kerri Allen - Posted February 2009
After years of anticipation, the crew of Athens, Georgia's Terrapin
Company (along with other friends) finally talked Owen Ogletree into
taking them on an amazing,
week-long tour of some the best beer bars and breweries of
Belgium. This webpage chronicles the journey.
Contact Owen (link at bottom) if your group
would like to hire him to plan and host a special beer trip.
Most of the group arrives at the amazing Grand Place in Brussels on the
first day of our visit.
After viewing Manneken Pis, the group enjoys its first beers at the
Poechenellekelder pub (located just across the street from the small
Lunch and beer at Chez Leon near
the Grand Place proved to be quite satisfying. Leon's house beer is
brewed by our friends at St. Feuillien.
The little known Janneken Pis statue can be found just outside Delirium
Cafe on Impasse de la Fidelite in central Brussels.
Spike takes about one hour to choose a beer from the enormous
beer menu at Delirium.
upstairs pub (Delirium Taphouse) pours only draft beers and
incorporates an attractive, custom draft system.
Delirium's Philippe Vallee conducts a video tour of the famed Brussels
Jordan, Spike, Eric and Nick take in the ambiance of Delirium Taphouse.
This pub group offers the largest beer selection in the country.
Le Bier Circus'
Patrick D'hane welcomes us to his cozy and attractive beer pub that's
located just a 20 minute walk east of the Grand Place.
We finish the day with a multitude of beers and a glorious Valentine's
Day menu at the delightful Bier Circus (57 Onderrichtsstraat, Brussels).
The rest of our group joins us on Day 2 as we board our private bus in
the morning. We are off to the area of Westvleteren.
We stop in Poperinge for a private tour of the informative Hop Museum
One of our very best meals of the trip took place at the personable Hommelhof restaurant in the small
town of Watou.
Spike meets a fellow brewer in Watou.
A local hop farmer found our group at the Westvleteren abbey cafe and
shared some of his fresh hop shoots.
The area around Poperinge produces some of Belgium's best hops.
Pictured above is a local hop cultivator.
The group hangs out at Westvleteren'sIn de
Vrede cafe for about three hours enjoying the Westvleteren
Blonde, 8 and 12.
In de Vrede sells
gift boxes that include two Westvleteren Blondes, one 8, one 12 and a
Trappist ale glass.
We make our way the next morning to meet our friend Dominique Friart of
St-Feuillien in the town of Le Roeulx.
St-Feuillien's brewer shows off his mash. Could he fit any more in that
Owen snaps photos of the brewing process. St-Feuillien's beers exhibit
a delightful range of aromas and flavors from the use of the best
malts, hops, yeasts and spices.
Not wanting to leave St-Feuillien:
(L-R) John, Lori, Gwin, Brittany, Brian, Terri, Steve, Dustin and
Next we made the drive to the abbey of Orval
in the southeast of Belgium. Owen and Kerri are pictured above at the
famed pool where Countess Mathilda of Tuscany dropped her wedding ring
and had it returned by a miraculous fish.
The ruins of the old Orval abbey sit next to the impressive new
facility. Tickets sold at the gift shop allow for walks through the
ancient portions of the abbey.
Francois de Harenne conducts the group around the beautiful new
brewhouse at Orval.
Spike mugs with the massive dry-hop bags used by Orval to impart a
spicy aroma and flavor to their unique Trappist ale.
Francois explains the workings of Orval's bottling line.
We await beer and cheese at the Orval cafe. Orval offers its regular
Trappist ale at the cafe along with the monk's table beer (a low ABV
version of the commercial pale ale).
A one hour drive through gnome-infested forests brings us to the Achouffe Brewery tavern for beer
and dinner. Spike is excited.
We imbibed four Achouffe beers at the tavern: La Chouffe, Mc Chouffe, N'Ice
Chouffe and Houblon. Our special dinner menu included wild boar, guinea
fowl and a scrumptious tira-mcchouffe
Getting in touch with our inner gnomes at Achouffe.
The next morning brings us to Malheur Brewery - where
brewery president Manu De Landtsheer brings us up to speed on what
makes his champagne-like Belgian beers so impressive.
Brittany and Terri stick their noses where they definitely belong - in
a big bin of aromatic Saaz hops in the Malheur brewhouse.
Eric Johnson, owner of Athens, Georgia's Trappeze Pub, sniffs the bung
of a special, barrel-aged batch of Malheur 12.
In Brugge, we participated in the entertaining tour and beer tasting at
De Halve Maan Brewery
Terri and Dustin are surrounded by paparazzi on the rooftop of De Halve
The best beer bar in all of Brugge has to be the Brugs Beertje (5
Kemelstraat). The owners choose their range of beers with intelligence
Owen Ogletree poses with the wonderful Daisy Claeys, Brugs Beertje
Tim Webb, author of The Good Beer
Guide to Belgium, says, "You cannot call yourself a
well-traveled beer lover until you have been to Brugs Beertje."
Dinner at Bruges' Hotel
Erasmus. L-R: Nick, Steve, Jordan, Ed, Melissa and Rene.
Hotel Erasmus (35 Wollestraat, Brugge) prepared an excellent four
course dinner with appetizer, oysters with baked scallops, Waterzooi of
fish, and creme brulee with ginger. We enjoyed the food alongside
Kempisch Vuur, Alvinne Oud Bruin, Avec Les Bons Voeux and Melchoir
Tom Allewaert, Hotel Eramus' manager, poses with his head chef after
our luxurious beer dinner.
A special morning tour of Westmalle
Trappist brewery began our next day in Belgium. Westmalle rarely offers
tours, but made an exception for our group of beer writers and brewery
Check out the thick bed of hops on top of the wort of the Tripel at
Our band of beer explorers savored the exquisite Westmalle
Dubbel, Tripel, and Trappist cheese at the recently remodeled
Cafe Trappisten across the street from the abbey.
This is all that remains of the old Cafe Trappisten. It's kind of a
Next stop was the city brewery of De
Koninck near the center of Antwerp. De Koninck produces wonderful
examples of Belgian pale ales, blondes and strong ales.
Dennis De Potter, brewer for De Koninck, gives the group a walk through
the old and new brewing facilities.
Dominique Van Den Bogaert of De Koninck brewery
provides a short greeting.
Nick Allen, Jordan Fleetwood and Ed Hamrick ponder over the massive
beer list at the Kulminator Pub (32 Vleminckveld, Antwerp).
Our last day in Belgium started with a tour of the amazing Cantillon lambic brewery and
museum in the Anderlecht region of Brussels. Pictured above is
Cantillon brewer Jean Van Roy (son of famed Cantillon brewer/owner
Jean-Pierre Van Roy) handing out samples of the morning's hot wort.
Spike Buckowski, Terrapin brewer/co-owner, gets a steamy facial next to
the Cantillon mash vessel.
Owen Ogletree takes a video walk-through of the Cantillon tasting area.
Here is a portion of our tour guide's presentation from our morning at
Steaming wort at Cantillon is pumped into this shallow "cool ship" in
the attic to drop the temperature enough for wild yeast to move in and
begin spontaneous fermentation.
Cantillon's Sophie Matkava poured samples of the complex, tart
Cantillon lambic, Gueuze and fruit beers. These are marvelous examples
of ancient beer styles.
Lunch at Heeren van
Liedekercke - our waiter describes some of the beers made
exclusively for this special beer-oriented restaurant.
(1479 Lenniksebaan, Vlezenbeek) employs massive, expensive wooden
vessels to ferment and store their classic lambics.
Our guide at Lindemans pours the group samples of Gueuze Cuvée
René. Bottle conditioned, unsweetened, acidic and complex - this
is our favorite beer brewed by Lindemans.
The final stop of our journey brought us to the very traditional 3 Fonteinen (Drie Fonteninen)
lambic brewery/blender and Lambic-o-Droom tasting room in Beersel (just
Terri poses with a lambic barrel at 3 Fonteinen.
Ed wonders just how much lambic he can check on the plane ride home.
Armand Debelder, brewer/blender of the 3 Fonteinen lambics and gueuzes,
discusses his passion for this ancient, rare beer style.
Wild yeasts and microbes cause a spontaneous fermentation in the lambic
inside this wooden barrel. Delightful, tart flavors of sherry and sour
fruits combine with earthy, mineral-like notes to produce a remarkable
Armand's wife Lydie explains how important the wooden barrels are in
the production of traditional lambic and gueuze.
3 Fonteinen gueuzes make a delightful accompaniment to certain cheeses.
The sun sets on another amazing beer journey.
Our fantastic visit took us to all corners of this small, but beer-rich