There’s plenty to whet your appetite at Brussels’ annual Belgian Beer Weekend. From September 1st to September 3rd, all the best Belgian breweries will be showcasing their wares in the historic Grand Place.
Of the 450 varieties of Belgian beer, around 350 of them will be presented for your delectation and delight at this year’s Belgian Beer Weekend. Visitors to this Brussels festival can sip world-class drinks from centuries-old breweries like Brasserie Dupont and Roman, pick up some new niche favourites, and learn about the craft from leading industry experts.
Soak up the ambience: drinking in the Grand Place
Brussels’ most famous landmark serves as the venue for this weekend of revelry. The aptly named Grand Place is a group of buildings around a quaint market square, collectively an astounding feat of Gothic and Baroque architecture. Proof if proof were needed of Brussels’ lucrative mercantile past, it's considered so culturally significant that it’s earned a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Our Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Brussels is only an eight-minute walk away, putting you right at the heart of the action.
The weekend’s proceedings
Entrance to the Grand Place is free, but beers can only be bought with BBW-crowncorks, which cost €1 each and can be purchased throughout the buildings. You’ll also need to pay a small €3 deposit for a glass. Your drinks and glasses will be given to you in an ice bucket, ensuring your beer stays perfectly chilled.
As well as the phenomenal range of local produce on offer, there are also tasting demonstrations, parades showing off Belgium's rich brewing history and sessions with industry insiders.
The all-important question: what to drink
With over 40 breweries represented at the festival, ranging from global companies to local artisans, you’re going to be spoiled for choice. Flavours vary wildly, from the dry, light and floral notes in a classic Brasserie Dupont Saison, to the richer fig and caramel notes in Brouwerij Het Anker’s dark ale. Look out for the Brouwerij Sint-Sixtus’ Westvleteren 12, reputed to be the best beer in the world. It's brewed by Trappist monks in Flanders and is produced in such small quantities that it's almost impossible to track down.
Program of events: Friday is brewers' day
Let it never be said that the Belgians take drinking lightly. Festivities kick off at 1:45pm with a celebration of Saint Arnold, patron saint of brewers. The beer is consecrated in the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral before the stands and site are inaugurated in the afternoon. The Grand Place opens to the public at 6pm, serving up beer until 9:45pm.
Saturday brings history to life
From 10am, traditional brewery carts gather at the fish market. They’ll later form a procession through the city's cobbled streets, followed by a brewers’ parade at the Grand Place at 2:30pm. The festival is open from 11am to 8:45pm for a full day of merriment.
Sunday keeps it low-key
With the Grand Place sites and stands opening at 11am and closing at 7:45pm on Sunday, the last day of the festival is a quieter affair. The main event is another parade at noon celebrating Belgium's brewing community, but this is really a day to drink up the final beers on offer and hunt down those elusive rare brews.