Sports and Belgian Beer

Beerdrinkers around the globe,

Sports has often been associated with beer. The crowd standing outside the lines even more than the team playing for the gold. At the upcoming world football championship in South Africa our national beerstar Joe – Piler (Jupiler) will be cheering on our orange upstair neighbor the Netherlands.
(http://www.standaard.be/artikel/detail.aspx?artikelid=VH2PRQTT&word=jup+holland+jup )
But if your in need of some exercise yourself, as from this summer you can try out the other famous sport – cycling – among the Belgians guided by some of our finest beers.

You don’t need to be Lance Armstrong or Tom Boonen to take your bicycle out for a good ride in the Belgian landscape.

A lot of “occasionally sporty” Belgians like to combine those tours with a good beer and make it a “kappelekestocht” – freely translated it means a much as “chapels tour”. By stopping in a few bars, some true chapels for beerlovers, along the road to quench their thirst.

Done by bicycle, or the shorter ones by foot, you can easily follow the similar looking numbered signs of the “Fietsknooppunten Netwerk” http://www.fietsnet.be/routeplanner/default.aspx .
As a big fan myself of these trails – all you do is just number out your trail – I was very amused to find myself at the press conference at Brewery De Koninck on May 11th. Four main breweries out of the Antwerp Province, together with the Antwerp Province Tourist Office combined some of those dots for us. Resulting in a walk around the city of Mechelen by “Het Anker” and 3 bicycle circles by the Trappists of Westmalle, the famous Duvel and the city brewery of De Koninck. www.beersofantwerp.be

If you want to give Belgium a visit on your next holiday, rent yourself a bike and follow at least one of these trails. If you like the countryside the Westmalle Beerroute is a 48km loop around the Trappist Abbey in West-Malle a must do. You can shorten the route to 28km by doing the upper or lower loop of the 8 that takes around abbey . In the upper loop you can find the female Trappist Abbey of Brecht.  Unfortunately the sisters don’t brew beer as their brother monks in West-Malle do.

Duvel – “the Knight” – has a true marathon set out in the idyllic surroundings of rivers and grasslands. By bike you can explore this route easily as it from now on follows the “Fietsknooppunten Netwerk “.  Just checking your list with numbers allows you to follow the route smoothly. But make sure the Duvels you drink along the road cloud the lessons learned along at the big boards you meet on your expedition.

“The King” – De Koninck has set out his “Bollekesroute”. A 34km cycling circle throughout urban and rural sites of Antwerp. You can start either at the brewery itself – www.dekoninck.be – or at the Provincal Park Rivierenhof – www.kasteel-rivierenhof.be – for a lovely daytrip. A stop for a visit in the historical center or a view at it from “the” Leftbank can easily be made. It passes at both sides of the riverbank and takes you for a walk underneath the river Schelde. Let the acoustic sound of the “pedestrian tunnel” as the Antwerp people love to call their Sint Anna Tunnel impress you in this refreshing break of your trail.

In Antwerp bikes can easily be rented in the city centre or at the basements of the train station Antwerp Central. Don’t let not being able to carry your own bike be an excuse for staying at home.

Come over to Belgium and enjoy a sportive and yet refreshing holiday!

Cheers,
Anneke

Belgiuminabox

Refreshing Belgian Gueuze beers

“Refreshing Belgian Gueuze beers”

When the sun is calling you to some lovely terrace in the city streets or a quiet place in the garden, make sure you have the right beer to quench your thirst. When the spring turns to summer, in these first few warm rays of light, a Gueuze is an ideal partner to enjoy those moments.

Important when choosing your Gueuze, is knowing about its style characteristics. Because an “Oude Gueuze” – Old Gueuze – is nothing like any beer you’ve ever drunk. Gueuze is a style of beer that is spontaneous fermented (mainly) on the south-west region of Belgium’s and Europe’s Capital – Brussels.

In this “Pajottenland”, the countryside along the banks of the river Senne, brewers still rely on  brewing methods like used in the old days. In the name “Oude Gueuze” old refers to the ancient process and techniques and not the age of the beer itself.  The Lambiek – brewed with at least 30% of unmalted wheat and hops older than a year – is spontaneously fermented by letting it cool down using the surrounding air. The bacteria’s native to this region – Brettanomyces Bruxellensis – will impregnate the Lambiek giving it its unique flavor.

After some rest in big wooden casks, the Lambieks are blended to become Gueuzes. Even though all come from the same area, every brewery has its unique micro-flora of yeasts and bacteria in the air. This results in a variety of sour tastes in the different brands of Gueuze.

If you’re experiencing a Gueuze-style beer for the first time, I’d suggest you start out with something mild sour to get used to the taste. An Oude Gueuze Boon (preferably in a 37,5cl bottle with a cork) can be a good starter. In case you’re not that much into this more lactic acidity, you can try a more acetic Gueuze leaning towards the vinegar acidity’s. Here a Gueuze 3 Fonteinen, is a nice start.
When willing to experience the more white wine-a-like soft sours, let the Oud Beersel, a Cantillon or a hard to get by De Cam seduce you to uncork the bottle.

Now all you need to do is pick your bottle, toast a slice of bread in the mean while. Uncork your bottle and poor the beer gently in your glass – by turning it in your hand palm wetting the inner glass with the Gueuze to create a fabulous famous. Last you rub the bread with some white cheese and add an overlay of sliced radishes and some fresh garden herbs.

Sit back. Take a sip. Take a bite. Enjoy the moment.

Kurt from Belgium In A Box has a nice selection of Gueuzes and Krieks to choose from.

Check out the online shop for new and often hard to get brews.

Belgium In A Box has direct links and the opportunity to buy before the beers come to market from the Gueuze brewers of Brussels  !

Santé ! Gezondheid ! Cheers !

Anneke – Belgium In A Box.