APR/MAY 2005 | REGIONAL | EAST
Spirit Of Belgium IV
The Spirit of Belgium conference, organized by the BURP
(Brewers United for Real Potables) homebrew club
in the Washington, D.C., area, was held January 14–16
in Arlington, Va. Focusing on Belgian and Belgian-style beers,
Belgian beer culture and technical sessions, the event is
one of the best of its kind. It is held only every three or
With guest speakers such as Tim Webb (The Good Beer Guide
to Belgium), Jean-Louis Dits of Brasserie Vapeur, and Peter
Bouckaert of New Belgium, along with a host of American brewers
producing some top Belgian-style brews, the two days of talks
were of great interest.
The event began on Friday night with a reception featuring
some very tasty Belgian-style homebrews and escalated with
a Saturday night tasting of a superb selection of Belgian
brews, with six on tap and about 70 in bottles, including
a number of small Wallonian brews never before offered in
the United States.
Geert Criel of the Belgian Embassy welcomed attendees with
opening remarks. Beers from five of the six Trappist breweries
were available, as were Abbaye de Rocs, Blaugies, Cantillon,
Fantome, Girardin, Gouden Carolus, Dupont, Kerkom, St. Bernardus,
Vapeur and many more.
On Sunday, a Belgian-style beer tasting was held, and the
brews of McKenzie Brew House, Ommegang, Pizza Port, Russian
River and Victory Brewing, among others, were very well received,
to put it mildly.
A real highlight of the event was the beer banquet held after
the Belgian-style beer tasting, featuring a five-course meal
with Cuisine a la Beer, paired with Belgian and Belgian-style
brews. I had the Veal Osso Bucco braised in Sweetwater Tavern
Dubbel Barrel Ale, which was excellent. The Chocolate Mousse
dessert paired with De Dolle Stille Nacht and Special Export
Stout was also superb.
BURP also had a hospitality room open all three nights after
the tastings closed, where more beers were available. Belgian-beer
lovers gathered here to open special brews and savor more
beers van ‘t vat, and to talk about their shared passion
for Belgian and Belgian-style brews. A grand time it was.
Chuck Cook is a freelance writer living in
Richmond, Va. His passions are beer and travel, and he has
written for various beer publications. He can be reached via
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.