Belgian beer festivals bring together brewers and bar owners, along with enthusiasts, to celebrate one of the things that the country is most famous for.
The use of different fermentation methods to create beer and the locals’ appreciation of them have been integrated into communities throughout the country over the past centuries. In 2016, Belgian beer was even included in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Sven Gatz, the Minister of Culture at the time, said that “We love our beer and appreciate the endless diversity within it, something that can’t be equaled anywhere else in the world. In Belgium, beer doesn’t have to give way to wine or other drinks in terms of quality and diversity.”
And indeed, Belgian beer is unrivaled anywhere in the world. Because of this, what better way to celebrate one of the things that the country is proud of than through the conduct of festivals?
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown off almost everyone’s plans, if not all. But with the easing of restrictions, it’s time to head out of the homes that many have been cooped up in over the past few years. Citizens and foreigners alike can experience what Belgian beer festivals have to offer once more.
Belgian beer festivals are held anytime and anywhere. Individuals shouldn’t be surprised to see one scheduled when they look at the calendar. They are set up in different locations, such as out in the open, under tents, or in exhibition centers, inside and outside of the cities of Brussels, Leuven, Bruges, Antwerp, and Tongeren. There is also a festival for all brewers, no matter how small-scale, medium-sized, or large they are.
With this, going to Belgian beer festivals is one of the things that locals and travelers should not miss out on.
Belgian Beer Festivals Happening This Year
End and start the month of April with two of the most anticipated beer festivals in the country.
Bruges Beer Festival
Citizens shouldn’t have to wait any longer. In just 21 days, the 14th edition of the Bruges Beer Festival will be held at the Bruges Meeting and Convention Center.
Attendees will discover around 80 different breweries that are partaking in this festival. But the number of beers that one can taste is five-fold greater than that. There are more than 400 beers that attendees can take a sip of, many of which are sure to surprise them. Beers that have only been released last year will be included in the Bruges Beer Festival. So, make sure to prepare yourselves for a long two-day weekend ahead.
Expect to taste beers from Trappist breweries such as Achel, Chimay, La Trappe, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren. Other than beer, non-alcoholic drinks will be available. Attendees could also go home with free beers, glasses, or other prizes in the raffle that will be drawn.
There will be food trucks that serve both hot and cold meals, which attendees can pair with any of the beers they get to try. Those who live outside of Bruges can also opt to book a room for the night. Since this festival is two days long, it might be more convenient to stay nearby, especially since attendees will be drinking the day away.
To get to the venue, attendees can take the train since it is more or less 1 kilometer away from the station of Bruges. There are also nearby areas where individuals driving to the festival can park their cars.
The festival will comply with the COVID-19 restrictions under code yellow of the coronavirus barometer. Because of this, face masks and the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) are not mandatory to be able to participate in the event. Interested individuals should just bring themselves, or maybe go with a group of friends, to enjoy this beer festival.
A fee of 20 euros entitles an individual to a 15cl BAB tasting glass, a booklet, a chip card that contains 5 BABcoins, and free use of the toilet. If the presale package were to be purchased, the buyer would additionally be given access to the fast lane.
Venue: Bruges Fair, Meeting, and Congress Center
Address: Zonnekemeers, 8000 Bruges
Date and Time: April 9, 2022, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; and April 10, 2022, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Zythos Beer Festival
Towards the end of April, one of the largest beer festivals in the country, and even outside of it, will be held in the city of Leuven. After being put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zythos Beer Festival will once again showcase an extensive range of Belgian beers. There will be around 100 different breweries and beer companies from across the country that will offer over 500 unique craft beers. Because of this, attendees will surely have no trouble finding the style and flavor of beer that suit their preferences.
There will also be food stalls where attendees can enjoy savory dishes.
Transportation will not be a concern for anyone because the organizers have got it covered. A free shuttle service will pick up participants at the Leuven Station and bring them to the Brabanthal, which is where the festival will take place. A return trip is similarly available. There will also be spacious parking areas where participants can leave their cars.
Interested individuals can purchase the starter pack at a price of 26 euros for a one-day pass or 31 euros for both days. It is already inclusive of a ZBF tasting glass, a booklet of the program, and 10 tokens. A glass of beer from any of the exhibitors costs around 1 to 2 tokens.
Those who do not drink beer are still encouraged to come. There is a 10-euro package that allows them entry to the festival and gives them 2 tokens for soft drinks.
Furry friends, excluding guide dogs, can not enter the venue.
Outside the festival, the rest of the city of Leuven also joins in the festivities. Local restaurants serve dishes cooked or paired with Belgian beer. Individuals may also happen to encounter a workshop particularly for beers. This is a great way to expand one’s knowledge and appreciation of them. Some hotels even have exclusive packages during the festival. The atmosphere in the city during this time is truly full of energy and zest.
Address: Brabantlaan 1, 3001 Heverlee
Date and Time: April 23, 2022, 1:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; and April 24, 2022, 12 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Beer Passion Weekend
Around the middle of the year, head on over to Groenplaats, or Green Square, which is right at the heart of Antwerp city. The 21st Beer Passion Weekend will feature over 100 specialty beers.
Attendees will get to taste all of the beer styles in the country, such as witbier, Spéciale Belge, Bière Brut, and trappist beers, to name a few. As is usually done, participants will be surprised with beers they haven’t tried before. Live music, featuring brass bands and Dixieland jazz bands, will also add to the festivities of the event.
Beer books and gadgets will be available for sale at the Beer Passion Shop. So, the experience doesn’t have to end when the weekend does.
Entrance comes at no cost. However, a starter pack is available for only 10 euros. It already includes a Beer Sommelier tasting glass, a Beer Passion Weekend keychain, a catalog that lists all the beers, and 2 tokens.
Venue: Groenplaats, Antwerp
Address: 2000 Antwerp
Date and Time: July 1, 2022, 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m.; July 2, 2022, 1:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m.; and July 3, 2022, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Billie’s Craft Beer Fest
Similarly held in Antwerp, Billie’s Craft Beer Fest will finally take place again this year. It is a four-time winner of the “Best Belgian Beer Festival”, awarded by the Beer Awards Digitaal Festival.
There are more than “50 of the world’s best craft brewers” who will showcase what they have to offer. On each day of the festival, there will be 200 different beers. So, one shouldn’t worry about tasting the same beers despite going on both days.
Individuals will also enjoy scrumptious food, play exciting games, and listen to the beat of good music.
Compared to other Belgian beer festivals, there is no token system at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest. Because of this, attendees can try any of the beers they wish without being held back by the cost. It allows more room to explore new flavors and breweries since there is no fear of wasting hard-earned money. Freely take a small sip or gulp down a whole glass.
A day ticket that costs 85,00 euros per person will entitle the holder to the following: access to the festival, a BCBF tasting glass, bottomless beer tasting, and a refillable bottle of water. Purchasing a combi ticket, which gives access for both days, costs 160,00 euros. Make sure to buy a ticket as soon as possible. There will only be 1,400 tickets sold per day.
Venue: Waagnatie Expo & Events
Address: 150 Rijnkaai Antwerpen, 2000
Date and Time: November 11 to 12, 2022, 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m
Christmas Beer Festival
Celebrate the holidays with 200 Belgian Christmas and winter beers, 22 of which will be on draught. Exclusive beers will be featured at the Christmas Beer Festival. Because of this, it might be the only chance to get to try them, or at least try them for the first time ever.
These can be paired with any of the snacks that will be offered during the festival. Attendees can munch on some cheese and salami dishes or BBQ balls.
Anyone can also take home a bottle of the beer they like the most. It would be a great addition to the table spread when Christmas comes.
Purchasing a ticket will cost 25 euros each. It already includes entry to the festival, 7 tokens for beer, 1 token for a bottle of water, a tasting glass, and a festival guide. A shuttle service will also be available to and from Essen Station.
Due to the fire legislation that the venue must comply with, only 900 tickets will be sold on both days.
Address: Kapelstraat 7, 2910 Essen
Date: December 17 to 18, 2022
There are many more Belgian beer festivals to look out for this year. But starting with this list would be a good way to go.