The Belgian beer explorers at the Heeren van Liedekercke

beer cuisine restaurant near Brussels.
Brewtopia Events LLC

Big Belgian Beer Tour
with Terrapin Beer Co.

Hosted by Owen Ogletree

February 2009



Webpage/Photos by Owen Ogletree & Kerri Allen - Posted February 2009

After years of anticipation, the crew of Athens, Georgia's Terrapin Beer 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.

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Belgian Travelogue, Videos & Photo Album...

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 pissing statue).

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.

Delirium's 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 pub.

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 (Gasthuisstraat 71).

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's In 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 Brasserie St-Feuillien in the town of Le Roeulx.

St-Feuillien's brewer shows off his mash. Could he fit any more in that mash tun?

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 Melissa.

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 dessert.

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 (Walplein 26).

Terri and Dustin are surrounded by paparazzi on the rooftop of De Halve Maan.

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 and care.

Owen Ogletree poses with the wonderful Daisy Claeys, Brugs Beertje co-owner.

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 beers.

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 personnel.

Check out the thick bed of hops on top of the wort of the Tripel at Westmalle.

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 shame.

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 Cantillon.

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.

Lindemans Brewery (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 south of Brussels).

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 aperitif beer.

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 country.

© 2009 Brewtopia Events LLC
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