And I’m hungry like the Canis, #BCBF2018

Duran Duran told us they were Hungry Like The Wolf.  A situation familiar to any beer drinker whose “mouth is alive with juices like wine“.  Antwerp’s most famous beer-dog, Billie, the eponymous French Bulldog after which both the Craft Beer Fest and Bier Kafétaria is named, is a distant cousin of Canis Lupus — the wolf — yet it is Billie, the Canis Lupus Familiaris, that invites a national, international and intercontinental selection of beer-lovers and breweries to Belgium for this Friday and Saturday’s Billie’s Craft Beer Fest at Antwerp’s Waagnatie.

Do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo!

Amager Bryghus

(Published 16 November 2018)

The popularity of an overseas brewery at an international beer festival is a fairly accurate indicator of whether its beers are good or not.  If drinkers who are unfamiliar with a brewery and its brands continue to make return visits to the counter offering beer they have only encountered for the first time that day, the brewery can be assured it is doing something well.  Unfamiliarity is a great leveller and any brewery who can succeed purely on the merits of its beer is worthy of praise.

Anyway, we digress.

We have recently witnessed visitors to the counter of Copenhagen’s Amager Bryghus at a number of international beer festivals relish in its beers, often for the first time.  And that must certainly be considered some measure of success.  It is indeed evidence of what makes Amager Bryghus a Top 100 brewery in the world, and has been for many years.

Visitors to Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 shall be able to decide for themselves.  Not only will Amager Bryghus be there with its great beers, but it is also the collaboration brewer of “Billie the Butcher”, a double dry-hopped New England IPA that is the official beer of this year’s BCBF.

Beerbliotek Brewery

(Published 08 November 2018)

Another popular international brewery bringing a selection of its wonderful beer repository to Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018, a title or two from its catalogue of nectar delights and a chronicle of its library of classics is Gothenburg, Sweden’s Beerbliotek Brewery.  Don’t remain sitting on the bookshelf, come along to the Antwerpian Athenaeum that is BCBF.

Brasserie POPIHN

(Published 06 November 2018)

Brasserie POPIHN from north-central France may be one of the smaller, younger breweries attending Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 but it may certainly be one of the most capable.  It’s one we’re certainly looking forward to trying.

Brouwerij Alvinne

(Published 17 November 2018)

Omnipresence.  In the classic sense it describes something that is present everywhere — or seems to be.  Something that is present everywhere, in that sense, is a classic when it describes a great brewery.  Brouwerij Alvinne is not merely omnipresent at beer festivals, especially in Belgium and its neighbours, but is also a great brewery, a classic.  Visitors to Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 are therefore fortunate that Brouwerij Alvinne has an omnipresence that allows them to taste its great sour ales, the results of extremely successful experiments with mixed fermentation and ‘Morpheus’, its own yeast strain.

Based in Zwevegem West Flanders, Brouwerij Alvinne is not exactly ‘local’ to Antwerp province, but it is a Flemish brewery, and Flemish breweries are special insomuch as they have fairly exceptional beer styles that have evolved through a unique beer-history.  Brouwerij Alvinne and its brethren in Flanders who maintain the same beer-focus are certainly breweries not to be missed at BCBF.

Brouwerij Frontaal

(Published 06 November 2018)

There are over fifty breweries attending Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 of which four represent the Netherlands — the joint-fourth most represented country.  That’s about 8% of the total, which demonstrates how truly international BCBF truly is.

One of the most interesting breweries from one of the most interesting countries for beer (yes, we’re biased) is Brouwerij Frontaal from Breda.  A brewery that was one of the main international attractions at a large beer event in Poland only a week or two ago.  For anybody new to Dutch Craft Beer, it is certainly one to try.

Browar Rockmill

(Published 25 November 2018)

Any international visitors to the recent Warsaw Beer Festival would have quickly realised the quality of Polish Craft Beer is phenomenal, across-the-board; the synergy between Craft Beer, the national psyche and giving drinkers the optimal experience is unlikely anywhere else.  Things aren’t just ‘done’ in the world of Polish Craft Beer, they’re done ‘right’, every time, with each facet, thought, idea, suggestion and action implemented, learned from and improved.  Continuously.  Agility in action.  Sheer brilliance.  Anyway, this is beery-time, not quality and value enablement time.  That is another day’s work…

Despite Warsaw’s Browar Rockmill being only year or so old at the time, RateBeer awarded it with the title of Best New Brewer in Poland in 2017.  Unsurprising considering the passion with which the beers are created.  A trait shared with all its compatriots.

There are several common feature of Polish Craft Beer breweries that Browar Rockmill shares, capabilities in which it excels.  One is the astonishing production quality of beer styles prefixed with ‘Russian’, ‘Imperial’ or ‘Double’ — robust, heavy beers, and often barrel-aged.  Secondly is the somewhat unique approach of adding extra ingredients to beer in quantities and combinations that may be unfamiliar and surprising to western European palates.  But this approach works exceptionally well, and the flavours pack a mighty punch.

Anybody unfamiliar with the delights of Polish Craft Beer has the opportunity to get acquainted with Browar Rockmill at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018.  Having encountered the brewery on its home turf and tasted the calibre of its beer, it’s one we certainly recommend.

Dugges Bryggeri

(Published 29 November 2018)

Sweden’s Dugges Bryggeri was one of several international breweries that attended the recent Warszawski Festiwal Piwa #9, an honour insomuch as home-grown brewing talent is of a high calibre and only the very best of international brewing talent was invited.  That two-thirds of the international brewing crème de la crème that attended WFP9 is also visiting Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 is testament to ability of BCBF to attract nothing but the best breweries.

Dugges Bryggeri’s Master Brewery and CEO, Mikael, was the first person to be awarded the title “Ölgöteborgare of the Year 2017” — Beer Gothenburger of the Year — so it is no surprise the brewery was extremely popular with visitors to WFP9, and it is fair to believe it will be one of the major draws at BCBF too.

Gothenburg in Sweden, as we have seen, is a city with the capability to produce great beers from great brewers, time and again.  Dugges Bryggeri is also sprinkled with the Gothenburg magic-dust, yet it is now located in Landvetter, a short distance from the city and home to the city’s major international airport.  As will other breweries from Sweden; suggestive perhaps of the extra effort taken by brewers who brew amid extensive Swedish alcohol legislation.  Visitors to BCBF can determine this themselves by trying one or more of Dugges Bryggeri’s stouts or sours, or perhaps its tarty lager or IPA.

Ghost Brewing

(Published 07 November 2018)

The presence of Danish breweries at events outside Denmark is noticeably on the increase over recent years, and that is a good thing.  The quality is always superb.  Copenhagen’s Ghost Brewing is one we’re excited about, since it is attending Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018.

HillDevils Beers

(Published 23 November 2018)

Dare To Taste! Is it a statement or a question? Either way, it’s a challenge set by HillDevils Beers, a brewery with one of the best names in all of Beerdom. Not only a great name, but it also has a logo to match. In fact, when we first encountered HillDevils Beers a few years ago, a photograph of the logo was actually used as our personal profile picture for a while — nobody can resist the lure of a HillDevil.

Based in Wouwse Plantage, a small hamlet near Roosendaal in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, HillDevils Beers is celebrating its fifth birthday in 2018, although founders Marleen and Theo actually first dreamt of having a brewery ten years ago after drinking everybody’s favourite (or sometimes least favourite) wildcard brewery, Brewdog.

The backstory is a good one, a story worth telling. After attending a local beer-brewing course and deciding to start brewing commercially, Marleen and Theo immediately scooped a couple of awards — 1st and 2nd prize — for two of their early beers.

As an independent family brewery, HillDevils Beers is one of the smaller breweries in the Netherlands, but it has a big reputation and an even bigger grasp on great beers and flavours; its passion remains focused on US / British beer styles, with a portfolio including IPAs, Double IPAs and barrel-aging.

Whilst HillDevils Beers has one of the best brewery names, it also produces one of the best named beers we’ve heard for a long time: the ‘Woody Wall of Death – J.D. American Oak’, which visitors can try at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 along with the not-totally-black Not Totally Black IPA — just follow the Hilldevil.  HillDevils Beers is a late addition to BCBF, but better late than never.

La Quince Brewery

(Published 11 November 2018)

There is something mystical about Madrid’s La Quince Brewery — Untappd’s Best Spanish Brewery a couple of years ago.  And it’s not just the hypnotic owl on the logo or why the brewery is named after the number 15 that is mysterious.

Spain and its autonomous regions produce some of Europe’s best breweries that produce some of its best beers — that is clearly evident.  La Quince Brewery ranks high in the scale of great Iberian beer, and its mystique is the manner in which it swoops into sight occasionally, like an owl, attending an international beer festival and seizing the interest of beer connoisseurs with its talons and great beer.

In much the same way as owls do not, by and large, migrate over long distances to find a more temperate climate in which to relax during the winter, beer-lovers across Benelux and western Europe do not have to travel far during the winter to find comfort in great beer.  La Quince Brewery is bringing its comforting beers to Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018.


(Published 28 November 2018)

Within the last couple of weeks, the regional Chamber of Commerce in Stavanger, the city in southwestern Norway, named LERVIG “Company of the Year”.  To be recognised on this level in its home city and region is evidence of LERVIG’s national and international renown.  Outside Norway, LERVIG is recognised as one of the most well-known and visible independently owned and operated Craft Beer Breweries, aligning it with its goal to brew the world’s best beer.

With a keen eye on overseas markets (a large percentage of its production is for export), a People-First approach and a focus on growth, the brewery is committed to its international team that, aside from supplying a global perspective, ensure LERVIG continues to work outside its comfort zone, to push the boundaries and be creative in producing high-quality craft beer.  The effort is rewarding, as we have seen.  The effort is likely to be rewarding for any brewery willing to embrace a global-focus, global-presence and international outlook.

With its beers, LERVIG hopes to both satisfy the palates of beer-lovers, and produce styles and flavours that attract converts to the world of Craft Beer; and what is more, it also places a focus on producing “extreme” beers that serve to keep the hard-core beer connoisseurs happy.  Whether you are a willing convert or a hard-core connoisseurs — or simply wish to enjoy some great beer — the place to be for LERVIG beers is Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018.

LERVIG believes that you should drink less, but drink better.  We believe that you should drink more better beer, so choose LERVIG.

Nanobrasserie de l’Ermitage

(Published 22 November 2018)

Having opened its brewery in Brussels just over one year ago, Nanobrasserie de l’Ermitage is already one of the hottest Craft Beer breweries to emerge from Belgian over the past few years, although François, Henri and Nacim have been brewing together for several years.

In spite of referring to itself as a Nanobrasserie (a billionth of a brasserie?) and naming itself after a remote refuge, there is nothing miniscule or concealed about the flavour and quality of the beers at Nanobrasserie de l’Ermitage.  Taking its cue from US beer styles rather than the classics for which Brussels in renowned, Nanobrasserie de l’Ermitage is one to watch out for over the coming years.

Already a veteran of International Beer Festivals, the appearance of Nanobrasserie de l’Ermitage at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 will be relished by drinkers who have not yet had an opportunity to visit its brewery-cum-taproom in Anderlecht, the popular neighbourhood for beer-fans in the southwest of Brussels.

Narrow Gauge Brewing Company

(Published 12 November 2018)

It is the attendance of breweries like Narrow Gauge Brewing Company at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 that make the event so special.

Following in the footsteps of Perennial Artisan Ales from St. Louis, who attended BCBF in 2017, Narrow Gauge Brewing Company are visiting from the “Show-Me” State: Missouri.  Located in Florissant, a suburb of St. Louis that was once the terminus of the West End Narrow Gauge railroad that connected it with the city centre, and after which the brewery is named, Narrow Gauge Brewing Company appears to have a core beer-range consisting of IPAs, Porters and Sours.  All great beers that tick the three boxes shown at the top of our favourite beer-styles list.

Expectation is therefore high for Narrow Gauge Brewing Company, and we are hopeful its beers will not only be dependable like a railroad, but will also thunder into town like an express freight train.

Northern Monk

(Published 26 November 2018)

Think monks, think beer, think Belgium.  It’s an easy mistake to make, universally happening throughout the world at this precise moment.  Notwithstanding that Trappist and Abbey beers are synonymous with Belgium, and rightly so, there is no monopoly on the history.  Monastic brewing was happening in the north of England for millennia, much as it was in the rest of the saintly world, and it is with this heritage in mind that Northern Monk in Leeds adopts a progressive approach in both its brewing and sociocultural responsibility.

Together with a new brewing facility a short distance away, Northern Monk operates its brewery and Refectory taproom in the city at the Old Flax Store, a building designated as having particular importance of more than special interest.

It is in this historically important environment that Northern Monk not only showcases local creativity, art and design, but also aligns itself with organisations and charities that shares its benevolent views and principles.  It’s not all about drinking beer and northern stereotypes, although there’s an evident passion for brewing and crafting the great beer that provides the focal point around which its social and cultural pursuits revolve.  Moreover, Northern Monk collaborates on one-off, special-edition beer with talented local creatives in its Patrons Projects range.

Collaboration with likeminded brewing talent from overseas is important too, and Northern Monk will be presenting a selection of its impressive collaboration beers at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 along with other beers from its Patrons Projects and Trilogy ranges.

Maybe I am biased, but northern endeavours are always renowned for excellent quality and results, so Northern Monk beer will certainly be worth trying at BCBF.

O/O Brewing

(Published 09 November 2018)

There must be something fabulous in the water around Gothenburg that causes the city to produce more than a handful of top-notch breweries.  There must be something about the fabulous waters of the city that causes these more-than-a-handful of breweries to produce so many excellent beers.

O/O Brewing, another of the great Swedish breweries attending Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 is a great example.  The quality of the beers is high, as demonstrated by the brewery’s visit to Belgium earlier in the year.

O/O Brewing’s founders, Olle and Olof, are doing a great job.  We do wonder what the O/O stands for, though!


(Published 19 November 2018)

There is something singular about the brewing approach adopted by Stockholm’s Omnipollo, an uncommonness that sets it apart from many of its peers.  It is perhaps a Scandinavian thing.  Whilst a majority of beer producers in the world do not possess a brewhouse of their own in which to brew beer on an industrial scale, most obtain the capability through collaborating or partnering with another physical brewery in using its facilities.  This approach not only serves the needs of the beer producer who can then brew beer on a much larger scale, but it also provides an opportunity for the physical brewery to both utilise its spare capacity and partner with yet another physical brewery in increasing its own capacity in times of high demand.

Beer producers taking this approach tend to remain loyal to one or two physical breweries, ensuring familiarity equals consistency.  However, there is another approach: the one favoured by Omnipollo, and a method that aligns with our own motto — “Collaborate for success”.  Omnipollo travels around the world with its beer recipes, collaborating; brewing each of its beers with a different brewery and consequently gaining strength through continuous improvement and experimentation.

The word Omnipollo is itself derived from ‘omnipotent’ — having great power and influence — and a beer producer, like every commercial enterprise, gains it omnipotence from flexibility, agility and learning.  Sweden’s Omnipollo will be showcasing its omnipotence at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018.  Each of its beers has a uniqueness that not only stems from a great recipe, but also highlights the contribution made by each physical brewery at which the beer is brewed.

Oud Beersel Brewery

(Published 18 November 2018)

Tradition is vitally important, especially when it defines our cultural heritage.  None more so than the cultural heritage of brewing methods and traditions.  Few places on earth have a cultural heritage that is defined by beer; Belgium is one of a handful of countries that does, and its traditional lambic beer from the Brussels area is one of its most treasured possessions.

It is the presence of a specific microflora in the Brussels area that facilitates the spontaneous fermentation process so essential to lambic beer.  There aren’t many authentic lambic breweries remaining, but in Beersel, a short distance from Brussels, there is one authentic lambic brewery keeping the traditional alive and flourishing and prospering and attracting new fans and devotees.

Originally founded in 1882, Oud Beersel Brewery is one of the last remaining lambic breweries using traditional methods, and for this reason it has a global renown and is the deserved recipient of many prestigious and international beer awards.

Oud Beersel Brewery is attending Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 — a unique opportunity to get up-close and personal with some incredible and authentic lambic beer brewed using traditional methods.

Põhjala Brewery

(Published 21 November 2018)

Anybody fortunate enough to have encountered Estonian craft beer recently will agree with our assertion: there is a handful of superb breweries operating in the Tallinn area, high-calibre beer producers that we shall term the Brewing Talent from Tallinn.  And alarmingly we are perhaps only experiencing the first ripples of a much larger wave of brewing talent that is poised to burst forth from Estonia at any moment.

Põhjala Brewery is a deserving player in the unofficial Brewing Talent from Tallinn movement.  Moreover, it is a deserving player in the global craft beer industry, successfully exporting to almost every major beer market throughout the world, from South Korea to Brazil, Kazakhstan to Canada — even in our own markets of Japan, the USA and the Netherlands.

Põhjala Brewery’s current success is the result of a determined effort by a small group of Estonian home-brewers and beer fanatics to create locally-inspired beers with a unique twist, utilising regional and hand-foraged ingredients wherever possible.  Add a literal touch of Brewdog brewing experience, and it’s a winning formula.

Lovers of barrel-aged beers will be delighted at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 not only by the presence of Põhjala Brewery, but also by the number of barrel-aged beers it is planning to bring from its Cellar Series.

Pühaste Brewery

(Published 10 November 2018)

Estonian beers from Tartu’s Pühaste Brewery arrived in Benelux fairly recently in the chronology of Craft Beer, but their impact continues to resonate amongst both casual enthusiasts and hardcore beer-lovers, not least because of their good quality and striking design.  And a KeyKeg user to boot.

Pühaste Brewery is one to which drinkers will make a beeline for at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018.

Seven Island Brewery

(Published 15 November 2018)

The Ionian island of Corfu may not be in our Mind’s Eye when we think of Greek beer, and we may not even think of Greece when imagining Craft Beer.  However, it is usually an encounter with the artisans from undiscovered, untapped markets (pun intended) that prove to be joyous moments of serendipity; finding a source of new, delightful beers can be worth a million dollars.

Craft Beer from Greece will be a new experience for many, an experience we personally are highly anticipating, having encountered only Mythos when travelling through Hellas.  Corfu’s Seven Island Brewery has a passion for Craft Beer that it will be sharing with fascinated drinkers at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018.

Simply follow the winged Lion of Saint Mark to Seven Island Brewery and unite with the large number of drinkers at BCBF who will be keen to sample some great craft beer from one of the seven islands, some artisanal brews from the sunny Mediterranean.

Sori Brewing

(Published 20 November 2018)

Estonia’s Sori Brewing is certainly one of the hardest-working breweries on the international beer scene, and it has an amazing knack of ostensibly being present at every major international beer festivals worth its salt.  And most impressive of all, it does not achieve this by having a large team of representatives and ambassadors permanently criss-crossing the continent enabling it to be in every place at every time. No, it is the same handful of dedicated people, always delighted to share the story of Sori Brewing and let visitors discover its uncompromising beer, expertly produced in Tallinn.

Co-founders and former-Finns Pyry and Heikki, along with former-Australian Rob, seemingly appear to live and love the nomadic lifestyle, representing their beers and philosophy throughout Europe and beyond.  And we, the appreciative drinkers, are extremely grateful for it because Sori Brewing is one of the Brewery Talents of Tallinn.  The presence of Sori Brewing, its unconventional beer and its unorthodox approach at a beer festival is nothing to be ‘sorry’ about — no apologies needed.

To paraphrase Sori Brewing’s own outlook, being boring would be the worst nightmare and we’re thankful that Sori Brewing continues to push the boundaries.  We’re also thankful that Sori Brewing will bring its Nordic ideas and “serious beer for not so serious people” to Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018.

Tempest Brewing Co.

(Published 27 November 2018)

“That’s a brave god and bears celestial liquor,” said Caliban to himself. “I will kneel to him.”

In these few simple words, Caliban, the half-monster from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, conjures up everything we feel about brewers: alchemists we worship because of their virtuous processes that change a few basic, natural substances into nectar from heaven.

Tempest Brewing Co. from Galashiels, a small town deep in the Scottish Borders, may not welcome the divine comparison, but beer-connoisseurs pray for high-quality, unpasteurised beer that contains no unnecessary chemicals and is produced from local fresh ingredients and malt — a product of the terroir.  And it’s Vegan Friendly to boot.  Having a respect for its beer means Tempest Brewing Co. not only utilises the area’s fresh, natural water resources but also has its own lab equipment with which it propagates its own house strains of yeast.

The story doesn’t end there.  Tempest Brewing Co. is continually learning and evolving to maintain a high standard and higher levels of quality; unsurprising considering it was named Growth Business of the Year and Scottish Brewery of the Year in 2016 at the Scottish Beer Awards, a result of the collaborative efforts of a hard-working, multitalented team in producing creative, inspirational beer.

Last year’s Scottish Beer Awards also recognised Tempest Brewing Co., awarding it a handful of Gold and a handful of Silver accolades for its exceptional, unique beers.

Visitors to Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 will have the opportunity to try some of Tempest Brewing Co.’s award-winning and highly-regarded beers.

The Kernel Brewery

(Published 13 November 2018)

SE16.  It’s a south-east London postcode synonymous with Craft Beer.  Covering the neighbourhoods of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, SE16 is the direction in which any self-respecting Craft Beer Lover heads when visiting the metropolis.  SE16 is home, of course, to the two-mile strip of beery-heaven that is the so-called Bermondsey Beer Mile, stretching in a south-eastern direction from close to the south side of Tower Bridge.

A couple of fine breweries based along the Bermondsey Beer Mile are attending Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 of which The Kernel Brewery is perhaps the definitive example of how the burgeoning Craft Beer scene in London entered the consciousness of the city.

Anybody living, working or visiting London about 10-years ago, specifically in the City or the West End, would have struggled to find anything resembling artisanal beer in the pubs and bars.  And then bottles of Craft Beer began, slowly but surely, to encroach on the shelf-space of fridges in certain renowned hostelries, displacing the now-so-passé industrial beers; it was a revolution, a welcome revolution.

It is fair to say the shelf-space in fridges started to turn brown, a paper-bag coloured shade of brown: the intriguing and enticing labels from ‘local brewery’ The Kernel Brewery, described as the first of its kind in those long-forgotten, far-off days of yore in which “Craft Beer” was a term that simply didn’t compute with most people.

The Kernel Brewery is still supplying the renowned hostelries with great beer, and its own renown goes from strength to strength, not only locally but also nationally and internationally.  So, catch The Kernel Brewery at BCBF and experience a highlight of the Bermondsey Beer Mile in the northeast rim of Belgium.

WhiteFrontier Brewery

(Published 24 November 2018)

The name explains it all, and not only the ‘brewery’ designation that defines it as a producer of beers; WhiteFrontier Brewery is literally on the white frontier.  Located in the Swiss canton of Valais — home of the Matterhorn — it is not so much on the Alpine frontier as slap bang in the middle of the chocolate-box region of Switzerland.

Despite its proximity to the mountains, the frontier is metaphoric as well as physical in more ways than one.  Not only is the brewery pushing the frontiers of brewing science and state-of-the-art technology, but the people involved are frontierspeople with a penchant for outdoor pursuits, many of which are conveniently offered by the local landscape.

The brewery is inspired by the mountainous white frontier, of course, and with over 50 different beers the rugged wilderness is certainly inspirational to the multinational team at WhiteFrontier Brewery.

Lovers of the Emerald Isle who enjoy indulging in a pint of the Black Stuff now and again will certainly recognise the creamy white head resulting from its nitrogen dispensing methods.  WhiteFrontier Brewery has mastered the production of nitro-beers with their unique head (and one of the brewers is Irish, coincidently).  The white frontier — in this case, a creamy one — comes full circle.

The brewery’s motto is “Onto Your Next Adventure”, so visitors to Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018, can both commence and continue their adventure with WhiteFrontier Brewery.

Zagovor Brewery

(Published 14 November 2018)

“Craft beer from the deep end of the Moscow underground!”  It’s an intriguing description.  It’s a description as intriguing as the brewery is popular.  Anybody visiting Zagovor Brewery at recent beer festivals in western Europe would have had to join a lengthy queue to even get near to its taps.  In fact, there is an intense interest in all the breweries from Russia, as evident by the lines of anticipant drinkers.  Unless it’s a conspiracy, of course; ‘conspiracy’ being the keyword, insomuch as Riot & Conspiracy is a Russian Imperial stout from Zagovor Brewery, and Zagovor Brewery translates into English as a conspiracy.

Anybody wishing to try some delicious craft beer from the deep end of the Moscow underground at Billie’s Craft Beer Fest 2018 ought to arrive early because evidence suggests the queue for Zagovor Brewery may be lengthy.

BCBF2018 is unleashed. Hot diggety dog.

(Published 01 December 2018)

Let’s paws for reflection on the first day of Billie’s Craft Beer Fest — the annual beer-lovers paradise in Antwerp that gets us hot under the collar, the event that hounds us for the previous 12-months, tempting us with great breweries, great people and even greater beers.

BCBF2018 is unleashed. Hot diggety dog.

It’s said barking dogs seldom bite, yet that’s untrue when the barking dogs in question are some of the best national and international beers and breweries, let off the leash to quench the thirst of many, many anticipant and excited drinkers. All the beers deliver a mighty punch, a critical bite that satiates the need for a warming, hearty brew in these winter months when the dog days of summer are a distant memory.

Let’s be dogmatic: there’s no better place to be.

A few notable namechecks from day one are: Amager Bryghus, Beerbliotek Brewery, Brasserie Popihn, Brouwerij Frontaal, Ghost Brewing, HillDevils Beers, LERVIG, Narrow Gauge Brewing Company, Northern Monk, Pühaste Brewery, Seven Island Brewery, Tempest Brewing Co., The Kernel Brewery, Whitefrontier and Zagovor Brewery. Others we’ll try today with dogged determination.

Thanks too to Brian, Richard, Jaap, Roel and others for the post-event beers and chat at Beerlovers Bar. We really do owe you all a beer or two — ensure to demand it sometime.

Never mind the (dog’s) bollocks, BCBF2018 is the place to be. A diamond in the ruff.

And so it ends.

(Published 03 December 2018)

As the great and the good of the beer world begin to slowly unwind after two electrifying, exciting days of fun and friendship, thrills and brews, it is the magical memories of another successful Billie’s Craft Beer Fest that will keep us hungry for the 2019 event during the next 12-months.  As the brewers, both professional or amateur, the drinkers (professional or amateur), and all others in-between begin their homeward-bound journey from Antwerp, many travelling far and wide, it is the globally-dispersed catchment of participants and visitors that adds an extra layer of sheen to an already highly-polished event.  That non-participating breweries, taproom, café and bar owners, industry leaders and others who make a living from the world of craft beer are also compelled to attend BCBF2018 to see and be seen, despite having no direct commercial interest or involvement, is indicative of the respect this event now commands and rightly deserves.

As with any business endeavour on the ascent, feedback will be sought, lessons will be learnt and changes to the still-young occasion in the annual beer calendar will be applied to subsequent BCBF events.  Notable modifications to last year’s BCBF were evident, and it is the ability to listen to, hear and learn from visitors that will consequently propel BCBF to a seat at the top-table, the upper echelons of highly-regarded international beer festivals.  In fact, BCBF is already banging on the door, demanding to be admitted.