Brussels Beer Challenge: Belgium’s World-Class Beer Competition

Published on November 15, 2013.

I was honored to be a Taster (Judge) at the second edition of the Brussels Beer Challenge the first weekend in November. Held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Liege, the competition featured nearly 600 beers from 15 countries around the world, and 52 International beer judges.

I was one of only four judges from the U.S.A. The competition featured about six tasters per panel, with about nine panels.

The organizing staff, including Luc de Raedemaeker and Julie Guillot, made sure that each tasting panel was as International as the competition. At my table, Italian beer guru, “The Prince of the Payottenland,” Lorenzo Dabove, was our Table Captain. The other judges were from Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, and the Netherlands. That’s about as varied as you can get!!

The judging lasted from about 9 am to 1:30 pm on Friday 1 November and Saturday 2 November.

The tasting was completely blind, and we only knew the styles that we were judging and the parameters of the style. The more interesting ones included Fruit Lambics, Brut Beers, Specialty beers, and Barleywines. You know the old saying about being a tough job, but someone has to do it.

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The event was very well organized and well-run. I was a steward at the GABF blind tasting in 2002, so I have seen events like this from both sides. Students from local HORECA (Hotels, Restaurants, and Cafes) were the stewards for the event, and did a fine job.

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The BBC organized a “meet and greet” with brewers, importers, judges, and others in the beer world, with about 15 Wallonian breweries present, at a function room in the new Liege train station on Thursday, 31 October. I’d guess more than 200 people were in attendance. Small breweries such as Brasserie Bellevaux, Flo, Marsinne with their Leopold 7, Val-Dieu, Elfique (Au Grimoire de Legendes) and others poured some fine brews to an enthusiastic crowd.

The BBC also organized trips for the judges to the Abbey and Brasserie of Val-Dieu, and Brasserie Bellevaux. The buffet meal at Val-Dieu was to die for, with about a dozen local specialties, and a dessert plate with numerous fantastic cheeses.

More about the Brussels Beer Challenge 2014 when information becomes available on it.

For a slideshow on the event, click here

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