So here’s the thing: I love Belgian beer. And not just all those storied Trappist ales, rustic saisons, and bottle-fermented lambics being produced at brasseries and monasteries from Anderlecht to Rochefort. I also really love how these styles, so firmly rooted in a unique place and tradition, have been adopted and translated across the Atlantic. South of the line, De Garde, Ale Apothecary, Jolly Pumpkin, and Upright immediately come to mind, but honestly, there are just too many fantastic US examples to mention.
Closer to home, there’s a host of top-drawer producers in Quebec (Trou De Diable, Le Castor, Brasserie Dunham), and then everything from Bellwood’s and Townsite, to Dageraad, Four Winds, and that endless assortment of seasonal deliciousness coming out of Conrad’s fouder at Brassneck. So it probably wouldn’t be too surprising to learn that apart from Farmhouse Fest (you do have your tickets already, don’t you?) the annual VCBW Biercraft Belgian Showcase has to be one of my favourite beer nights in town. Curated by none other than Biercraft’s part-owner, top local cicerone Don Farion, it’s an event that I’ve been attending for years now without fail.
Upon arrival last Monday night, attendees received their official VCBW 2017 Belgian Showcase passport setting out the extensive draft list and the select bottles offered by several local importers on hand. As with previous iterations, this year’s list was solid, and stacked with a number of producers and styles that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in town. Personal highlights included savouring the legendary Cantillon Gueze (the latest shipment of which into town is eminent my sources tell me), St. Bernardus ABT 12, and Duchesse de Bourgogne from their epic draft list, along with bottles of Pfriem’s stellar Oud Bruin and Upright’s Saison Bruge. Ever mindful of creating a memorable and (in light of the high ABV of our choices) prolonged tasting experience, Farion and his team served up a seemingly endless supply of savoury offerings (the poutine bar is a perennial fave), which definitely helped me brush off the night’s lingering effects with ease the next morning. And as always seems to be the case, the vibe in the room was chill, celebratory and super collegial, with a number of us year-on- year regulars ever happy to catch up and compare tasting notes.
If organizers manage to bring this event back next year it’s definitely not to be missed.
Pro Tip: If you weren’t able to make it out last Monday, don’t despair – Biercraft Cambie still has a number of kegs left over from the event. Be sure to make it over before they’re gone.