Breweries "Visited"

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 588: Beercycling to De Plukker

From July 5 to July 17, Mr. Blog Named Brew and I were off on an adventure of a lifetime--nearly two weeks spent exploring Belgium and Luxembourg. Ten of those days were spent with a group from Beercycling. What's Beercycling? Only the greatest way ever to experience Belgium! Evan and Henk are fantastic guides and I can't begin to express how much I appreciated Henk hanging with me at the back of the pack while we were tackling hills. Hills are not part of my regular rides and they gave me plenty of grief in Belgium. Lucky for me, Henk has the patience of a saint.
Evan, Mr. Blog Named Brew, me and Henk celebrating
the finish (victory?) at Cantillon.
The Beer Cycling Gang!
I honestly can't recommend this trip enough. If you like cycling even a little bit and if you like amazing Belgian beer, you need to start saving your pennies and make this trip happen. We enjoyed it so much, we're already talking about doing it again in a couple of years. Here's some highlights from the trip. I hope to recap in a bit more detail during the next several days. I'm still having a hard time believing I actually did this!
Location of our first beer of the trip
What was it like? We saw towns and cities of all sizes...from sleepy Zwalm to bustling Bruges to historic Ghent. Most of the brewery tours were incredibly personal as in a sixth generation family brewer came to hang out with our group and open a magnum of Gulden Draak that's been aging since 2009. Yeah, that happened.
Seriously. The entire country looks like a damn postcard.
Those experiences were contrasted nicely with a couple of "standard" tours like the one at De Halve Maan.
More history, less brewery in action. Loved the Bruges Zot!
It was peaceful. It was hot--evidently I can't flee far enough to get away from the heat. It even finds me halfway around the world! I learned so much about beer and about Belgium. I also learned that I am a hell of a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. The nine miles of hills on Tuesday morning proved that. Pedaling 220+ miles in broiling temperatures also provided some evidence.

Typical lunch setting. Park the bikes, set up a picnic,
pinch myself to prove it's really real.
It wasn't all biking, beer and goofing off. This is the Last Post
ceremony--conducted every day to honor the war dead. Poignant.
After the tour ended, we were off to Luxemburg City for about 30 hours. I think I'm going to let the photos do the talking. 
Memorial celebrating Luxembourg's freedom
Luxemburg City. A city divided by a massive ravine. 
As we do here in the States, Luxemburg City had an art installation
involving tons of these fun little elephant statues. This one
reminded me of Belgium with the giant wind turbines!

I wasn't kidding about that ravine!
One of the highlights of this trip--and there were many--was the chance to meet the owners/brewers of such a variety of breweries. Take for example, De Plukker. We met Joris Cambie, who is one of the two owners of what's best described as a nanobrewery. He comes from a long line of hop farmers and a couple of years ago with a good friend decided to start brewing with his own hops.

Sadly I won't be drinking these hops next year.
I don't think De Plukker will be distributing to the U.S. for awhile.
One of the highlights of this trip--and there were many--was the chance to meet the owner/brewer of such a variety of breweries. Take for example, De Plukker. We met Joris Cambie one of the two owners of what's best described as a nanobrewery. He comes from a long line of hop farmers and a couple of years ago with a good friend decided to start brewing with his own hops. The result? De Plukker blond. An amazingly refreshing blond ale that hit the spot during one of the hottest days on the tour. Coolest part about this stop on the tour? Sitting drinking a beer brewed with hops that were grown right outside the brewery's door.


The Keikoppen bier (blond) poured a hazy deep straw color with a huge craggy white head. It had a great--and very refreshing--citrus aroma. The flavor is well balanced with the hops having just a bit of an edge. Lots of good beer flavor, a hint of pepper, good amount of citrus. Very smooth. Maybe it was the heat or exhaustion influencing my notes, but I thought this was an excellent beer.

Beer stats
Style: Blond
ABV: 6.1%
IBUs: 32
Rating: Excellent

Previously reviewed from De Plukker
This is the first!

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