#63: Bruxellensis Festival of Characterful Beers (93) [DEFUNCT]

Note: Finalizing blogs on “Places on the Growler List.”  

This is #93 on the list … I hit a milestone with this entry … I’m made it over halfway there on the All About Beer Magazine’s “Growler List” 125 best places in the world to have a beer.

However, this is also a substitution … if you’ve read through my blog, you will see that some of the entries I’ve modified slightly.  There are two types of modifications–first, if the venue is closed, I substitute (what I feel) is an appropriate replacement.  The other is a “suitable sub.”  For instance, I’m not a fan of SEC football, so I substituted another “experience” entry.  I did that for about 5 entries (I think).  This entry, #63 for me, is a substitute for a defunct festival: Bruxellensis.  I’m sad about that because the festival looked very interesting.  My replacement, though, is a fantastic option (I believe).

The Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival (formerly in Vail, CO but now in Breckenridge, CO is incredible.  If you go to just more than the festival — you can spend the whole weekend celebrating beer at this event — all the better.  Sign up for seminars, sessions, cigar tastings, etc, etc.

IMG_20170107_101627792

This event entered its 16th year in 2017 and you can really appreciate the maturity.  There are scheduled activities starting even earlier in the week and continuing through Sunday.  The basic format is — beer dinners/tastings/seminars/competitions early (Monday through Friday) and then the big Festival on Saturday.  And this is about Big Beers!  How about a 1994 Triple Bock from Boston Brewery?  The Utopias at 28%?

IMG_20170107_150556669

Many of the craft industries long-time members really go all out in support of this (Dogfish Head, Avery, and the Lost Abbey to name a few (Oh, and Boston Brewery?  see above)).

However, you also get the newer entrants in the industry as well — all focused on big beers or Belgians … and not just big, but great beers.  If you look at the link above and walk through some of the activities, i’m sure you’ll agree … worthy of a place on the list and as a replacement for Bruxellensis.

Finally, this is also on Beermentor’s 100 Places list … now there are two officially, this Festival and Russian River Brewing.  I will be adding my list soon … really.  🙂

Enjoy!

Beer Mentor

Napa Alternative: Bear Republic!

I was recently in Napa Valley doing some “wine country” touring.  Having had my wine fix and needing to chase it with a beer AND since I was heading north from there (from Calistoga) I decided to roll through Healdsburg, CA and visit Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Located right downtown they have a nice location, excellent patio, and cool staff.  The beer is excellent, you can do the samplers, and the food is excellent as well.  Marcin Furmankiewicz, the restaurant general manager, really takes the time to make sure you feel welcome.  You can tell they like what they do!

Definitely west coast style ales!  The tasters are a nice size and they will give you related flights.

Although they are in a shopping plaza (aren’t most really cool craft breweries now??) they make full use of the space.  Check out the barrel room if given the opportunity … they even have some hops growing out back!

The Racer 5 IPA is their well known beer. However, drink them all and see what you think!  Enjoy,

Beer Mentor

Brazil Microbrewery: Hop n’ Roll!

I visited Curitiba, Brazil (a city of 5 million) last week and my girlfriend and my new friends took me to a Cervejaria … Hop n’ Roll!

IMG_3783 IMG_3791

Who knew Brazil was starting to brew beers other than Lagers?? Actually, Brazil is the fourth largest producer of beer (recently surpassing Germany in production).  Apparently there are microbreweries in all of the large cities … some notable ones are Cervejaria Colorado and Choperia Baden Baden.  

This was a very cool place — great layout and decor … check the photos here.  They had an outdoor beer garden and a nice indoor pub.  They had parking in the rear … no problem.

IMG_3784 IMG_3785 IMG_3788 IMG_3787 IMG_3771IMG_3773 IMG_3772

 

Great artwork.  Below pictures show the chalk board with the available beers.  You could get local craft beer, American microbrews, and several Belgian options to include Trappists.  Really a nice selection of beer!

IMG_3761 IMG_3760 IMG_3779 IMG_3780 IMG_3778

Not only could you drink there, you could also brew!  They had a brew your own set up … it takes about 4 hours — if we had more time I was going to brew a batch for my friend to drink later.  Here’s a few photos of the setup …

IMG_3755 IMG_3756 IMG_3757 IMG_3758 IMG_3759

 

I can’t say enough about how nice the folks were — great location.  The food was good too.  They had an interesting way of tracking your consumption (thank goodness for my Portuguese dictionary … haha).  Here I am paying the tab … inexpensive too … $58 for all of us to have a bite and drink a few beers.  Very nice.  If you are in the area, stop in for a brew!

IMG_3768 IMG_3770 IMG_3774 IMG_3786 IMG_3776 IMG_3790

Enjoy!

Beer Mentor

 

#56: Copacabana Beach (85)

I took the opportunity to travel to Brazil in January — you always need a break from the cold, right?  Soooooo … since I’m working through The Growler List, I figured I might as well add another to my list … #56 for me  … drink a beer on Copacabana Beach.

IMG_2532

I gotta tell ya, I wouldn’t put this place on the Growler List for “best places to drink a beer in your life.”  I would put it on there for “best places to drink a Caldo de Coco or a Caipirinha.”  IMG_2570

Definitely put it on your Bucket List.  Let’s be honest, Brazil is not really know for great beers … however, they do sport a wide array of Lagers/Pilsners due to a large German population the South.  As a matter of fact, the Blumenau Oktoberfest is one of the largest in the world.  Brazil is experiencing a small renaissance of microbreweries — we will see if they take hold.  I visited one in Curitiba and will have another post about it.  But back to Copacabana.  Wow.  What a great location and a great beach.  Whatever you choose to drink here, it will be memorable!  Highly recommend,

Beer Mentor.

IMG_2774 - Copy IMG_2787

 

#40: Blues Bar (Stone Town, Zanzibar) (#41)

This is the first of several entries to catch you lucky readers up with my Growler List visits. This is my 40th stop on the Growler List (#41 on their list).   I was in Africa for most of 2012 and decided to spend my New Year’s in Zanzibar.

There were several reasons, but chief among them was the desire to visit the Blues Bar.  Imagine my chagrin when I realized this place was closed… if you look closely at this photo you can see the fallen down building that used to be the Blues Bar.

DSC_0703

Of course, I didn’t realize it was closed until I had already booked my trip.  No problem!  I knew it would be an awesome time anyway and it was.  Fantastic even.  We stopped in at Mercurys right on the beach.  This place was named in honor of Freddy Mercury who was born in Zanzibar.  The picture above was taken from the deck.  Here’s a series of photos of the place so you can see the feel is quite awesome.

DSC_0676 DSC_0679 DSC_0695 DSC_0725 DSC_0729

Great place to drink a beer … and even better when you are drinking a Gin and Tonic!  Hey, I like other things besides beer!  Although this place was spectacular, I would probably rate the sunset cruise (with beer) even better … or even the Sunset Bar at the Africa House.  Both of those were awesome!

DSC_0942 DSC_0951 Nope, not pirates … thank goodness!

What kind of beer you ask?  What everyone drinks in Africa … a lager.  Haha.  Another one off the Growler List … I will keep them coming!

Beer Mentor

 

Beer 27/Day 27 – Rochefort 10

Well, I said I was going to drink only fantastic beers for the next two weeks–this is an awesome start!  Many beer-aficionados say that Rochefort 10 is one of the best beers in the world.  Ranks in the top 20 on beeradvocate and in the top 10 on ratebeer.  Of course, these websites are heavily skewed by Americans.  So the rankings on these sites are like calling the American Major League Baseball Championship the “World Series.”  Regardless, this Rochefort 10 is an amazing Quadrupel (Belgian Strong Ale).

IMG_2005

 

Of course I am of the opinion that, if you can get them, it is appropriate to drink a beer out of the glass designed for that beer.  I bought this glass at Achel Brewery (they had an amazing beer glass selection too!)

IMG_2006

 

Actually I bought this case of Rochefort at Achel too–I was living in Germany at the time.  I drank all of that beer.  Fortunately, not 5 minutes from my house is Randalls.  Awesome store.  Their beer selection is amazing.

IMG_2007

 

Currently I have some nice homebrew in this case ready for consumption!

I visited this brewery in 2009 and I have to say it wasn’t very inviting.  It is kind of outside of a small town and there’s no real signs to guide you to any “visitor’s center.”

rochefort-locale1 rochefort-locale2 rochefort-locale3

Both Achel, Westmalle, and Westvleteren are similar, except they each have focused visitor locations.  The beer store at Achel is amazing.

Achel-Locale1 achel-locale2 achel-locale3 achel-locale4

The Cafes at both Westvleteren and Westmalle are exceptional.  The two most inviting Trappist breweries are Chimay and Orval.  Many times there is a Monk answering questions at Chimay and you can enter some of the grounds.  Orval has a nice tourist setup and  you can also schedule tours of the brewery.  Well worth a visit.

Enjoy!  Beer Mentor

365 Beers … in 365 Days? First: Perennial Artisan Ales Hommel Bier!

Woo Hoo!  I took this 180 beers in 180 days challenge two years ago (see previous posts) … and I ended up making it to 250 beers/250 days.  This time … I’m going for the full year!  (I have to pad my Beer Drinker of the Year resume … (haha).

The first beer?  It is a Perennial Artisan Ales work … the Hommel Bier.
IMG_1479

Yep, I went for the growler!  Beer advocate gives this beer an 89 and I have to agree.  It is almost a match to the Poperinge Hommel Ale (almost) … I just close my eyes and I’m back at the Hotel de la Paix enjoying one on draft!  But I digress … I liked this beer so much I did a taste test while at Tripel in Lafayette Square.
HOMMEL-ALE

If you are in St Louis, I really recommend a visit to Perennial.  They are a little difficult to find (the GPS address takes you to the backside of the place … just drive around the block!)  The folks are awesome, they are really passionate about their brews and you can tell.  The Head Brewer has some side projects on-going and they usually have something really special on tap.  Worth a Trip!    Here’s a few pics of the place …
IMG_1472 IMG_1473IMG_1474 IMG_1476 IMG_1477

Enjoy!  Beer Mentor