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Tag: music

New Spring Beer Festivals

The beer festival season has well and truly started for me! After a very enjoyable trip to CBFS24 in Stuttgart in February, I visited two more beer festivals in Belgium I had never been to yet: The Beer Experience in Zolder, and Fest’IPA in Namur.

The Beer Experience – 24-25 March 2024

First up was The Beer Experience, which I visited on the 23rd of March. I arrived quite late—it was a two train trip, all the way to Zolder—so it was in full swing by the time I entered. There were lots of familiar faces, bot among the visitors and the stand holders, but more importantly, also a lot of breweries I hadn’t tried any beers of yet!

The location was quite special—an old mining site—and I didn’t quite get around to exploring all of it. Neither did I had the time to ‘experience’ all aspects of the festival fully, with its art exhibits spread out over the buildings, since there were simply too many beers to try! I did get to enjoy some of the live music, though!

This definitely is a festival I will visit again, and allow a bit more time for next time!

I also skipped the food trucks for once, since I had my heart set on something I can only get the way I want it in Limburg, it seems: a döner kebab in Turkish bread that doesn’t get squished in a panini grill, and with green peppers on the side. The appropriately named snack bar De Mijn had exactly that!

After a beer festival, train trips with a change to get home are always a bit risky, but I didn’t miss any connections, and made it back to Brussels without a hitch.

Fest’IPA – 19-20 April 2024

The next discovery was Fest’IPA in Namur. I already discovered that Namur has something to offer for beer lovers, but I hadn’t been to any events here yet. Fest’IPA is an event by Namur Capitale de la Bière, the organisation behind the festival with the same name, but also some other beer events in the city.

The location for the festival—La Nef—was already quite special. It was in fact the desecrated Notre-Dame church of Namur, but a lot of the artwork was still in place.

No entrance fee, no tokens, just one bar with six beer pumps and a couple of fridges. Apparently that’s all you need, since I had a great time tasting some of the beers they had selected. If I didn’t have to get up early the next morning, I would happily have spent a couple of hours more!

So that’s another, completely different, beer festival to look out for next year!

Music, Running & Beer

The Three Leaves of my Saint Patrick’s Day Shamrock

I’ve been organising a Saint Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl for years now, in one form or another. At some point this endeavour became more craft beer focused, and the last couple of years, a run became part of the tradition as well. This year, live music was added to the mix, as a third part of the trinity.

Saint-Patrick’s Warm Up at Magasin4

The musical part actually started a week in advance already, with a concert of the French female Celtic rock band Toxic Frogs, and the Belgian Celtic punk rock band Black Tartans, and a happy reunion with a friend I hadn’t seen for a long time. Although Magasin4 announced it as a Saint-Patrick’s Warm Up event, I decided to wear my black kilt, which better fitted the not-quite-Irish groups and music.

Beer of the evening: Zinnebir!

The Celtic Seven at Brasserie de la Mule

On the eve of Saint Patrick’s Day Brasserie de la Mule invited The Celtic Seven to perform. Surprisingly, most of their songs were in French—how Irish even is Les lacs du Connemara?—but there were a lot more green clothes in the audience and amongst the staff! This time I actually did wear my saffron kilt!

As Brasserie de la Mule is specialised in German beers, that was what I drank that evening.

BMPH³ Trail 1924 – Saint Patrick’s Day Trail!

Only slightly hungover, a little after noon on Sunday—actual Saint Patrick’s Day— I headed over to Demey metro station a to run the BMPH³ Saint Patrick’s Day Trail. Plenty of green on this trail, since those who didn’t wear any green risked getting a very unpleasant ‘down down’. Exceptionally, we had to provide our own beer for circle, so I brought some beers actually from Ireland, one by Kinnegar (from Letterkenny, County Donegal) and the other one by Brehon (from Inniskeen, County Monaghan)!

Saint Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl – Craft Beer Edition

After a shower and a change, it was time for the highlight of the celebrations: the pub crawl! Once again, no bars seemed to be actually importing any Irish beers this year, so we tried to just stick to beers in Irish styles—actually just Irish dry stout—and the bars serving those beers.

First up was BBP Bailli! Ever since they opened, they’ve been serving the MC Nitro Stout, in memory of the Michael Collins bar that used to be in that location. We had it last year on the pub crawl, and fully expected it to be available this Saint Patrick’s Day as well. However, as it turns out, the beer was discontinued last year… They did have Oatly Stout though, so that hd to do. Will this then have been the last time BBP Bailli was included in the Saint Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl?

The next bar was Moeder Lambic Original, where I was hoping to find some Stouterik, or even some stouts by The Kernel! No such luck, so to stay on the black stuff, I went for Dupont’s Monk’s Stout, and when that keg was finally empty, the brand spanking new San Francisco Porter by De Ranke.

The last planned stop was L’Ermitage Saint-Gilles, where they had Ceallach, an Irish stout they made in collaboration with the Irish brewery Land & Labour, from Galway. Unfortunately they closed over an hour early, thereby sadly cutting our pub crawl short…

Next year Saint Patrick’s Day will be on a Monday, which will pose a challenge again!

Razernij 2023

Beerdrinkers & Hellraisers

After a cloudy morning, the sun warmed up the festival terrain in Rumst, just in time for this year’s edition of Razernij to start!

There was a nice selection of breweries again, just enough to try new beers all afternoon, to then return to favourites when the concerts really kick off.

FyneFest Trip – Day 7

FyneFest: Leisurely Last Day

The last day of FyneFest, Sunday, is the most relaxing one of all!

For breakfast I went to Winston Churchill Venison again, for a breakfast roll with a square sausage—undoubtedly made with venison—black pudding, bacon, and a fried egg. Not sure how sustainable venison is—hard to find neutral sources about it—but it sure was tasty!

Sunday is also a bit of a ‘leftovers day’ when it comes to the beers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since I discovered some really good beers I had missed so far!

For lunch I had to have some of the masala roasted chicken loaded fries from Babu Bombay Street Kitchen, since they would probably pack up before dinner time. After some more beers in good company—you never drink alone at FyneFest—I had Ròst’s chicken burger for dinner.

By that time the bar in the already emptied out big tent had closed, and it was time to move on to the Mixtape tent. No more tasting notes, just enjoying a few familiar beers while enjoying some live music.

With the festival rounding up, and me retiring to my yurt for the last time, I have to give a shout-out to the team of staff and volunteers: they’ve been nothing but excellent!

FyneFest Trip – Day 6

FyneFest: Running Up That Hill!

This Saturday started with a bacon and cheese omelet from Real MacKay Stovie Co., to fuel up for today’s run. No hash today, but it was a run with beer at the end nevertheless!

The Good Time Running club organised a charity run to raise money for Arrochar Mountain Rescue. A couple of dozen people ran almost 5km from the Fyne Ales brewery, up the sunny glen to the Walkers Bar, where we were welcomed with a can of beer. Some even ran back down again, but I took it easy and just walked.

By the time I was back at the campsite, there weren’t any queues at the showers anymore, so the perfect time to freshen up a bit after all that exertion.

Not really hungry enough yet for a full lunch, I just had an ice cream from Highland Fold, before trying the first couple of beers at the main bar.

Just a few, because it was soon time for the first of the Meet-The-Brewers panel discussions moderated by Pellicle’s Matthew Curtis I would attend: “For Beer; For the Planet”

There was a ceilidh as well this afternoon, but before Rock & Reel was done with their first dance, I had to head back to the dark and hot tent for the second discussion: “Is independence in brewing more important than ever?”

For dinner I went to Winston Churchill Venison, for some venison chilli, to be topped up later with a venison sausage roll…

For the entertainment while continuing to taste beer: Tom McGuire & The Brassholes, and by now a FyneFest classic, Massaoke!