When there is a 20-page booklet waiting for you at the entrance describing all of a beerfestival you know you’re at the right place. September 23 and 24 the Borefts Beer Festival was held on the grounds of Brouwerij De Molen. The two-day festival attracted the cream of European artisinal brewing and many lovers of great beer who took the various forms of transportation transportation from all over the world it seemed at times to reach the brewery right under the now iconic windmill. After paying the 16 euros for a glass, 5 coins, the booklet and a bottle of water a new world of beer flavors opened up.
De Molen expanded in the last year with a new part of the brewery about 200 meters down the road. This was now also used as festival terrain making it a little less crowded which was perfect. You could walk around the new part while sipping on a beer, what better location can you have than that, especially when the weather was as great as it was.
The BBF is a very good gauge of where European brewing is at the moment. Belgium is losing it’s place as the premier beer country. Only one Belgian brewer was present, De Struise, and they are not exactly a typical Belgian brewer with their stouts, IPA’s and even a 39% beer. The brewers now making name are located mostly in Scandanivia which made it’s presence felt with a quartet of excellent breweries: Amager and Mikkeler from Denmark, Närke from Sweden and Nogne O from Norway. England is also showing to make more than simple ales with Marble, The Kernel and Thornbridge. Upcoming Italy was present with LoverBeer and the Netherlands had Emelisse and St. Christoffel.
All these breweries make the Borefts Beer Festival reign supreme when it comes to overall quality. We did not have one bad beer. Imperial Russian Stouts, Barleywines, Sour Ales and Lambics galore. Experimentation is the fad these days and why not. Mikkeler brought some interesting lambics made with cherries or rhubarb or blackcurrant. Närke had a great smoked porter with juniper. The English breweries did not go that far in their experimentation but their craftmanship is amazing. Maybe we just had the right beers but to us the level of quality seemed even higher than last year.
Last year there was a contest about who brewed the best Vuur & Vlam. This year De Molen brewed a beer for the festival with a special ingredient that drinkers had to guess. No one had the right answer. Who could ever think that a beer made with balsamic vinegar could turn out that great. Yet somehow De Molen managed to brew yet another superb beer that was our personal highlight of the day. Let’s hope the Eer & Geweten makes its way into your local bottle shop soon.
Once again the festival seemed a success, making the last weekend of september a date you can write down in notebooks and smartphones as a must if you enjoy the better things in life like beer.
by Martijn Buisman
photos by Martijn Buisman and Sara Uckelman