Keeping it real … Real Ale
I love Belgium, those that know me will know and roll their eyes most probably but it’s true I do! I own several Anderlecht shirts and controversialy I also own a couple Club Brugge not to mention seriously considering ditching my home countries continuously boring football matches for my adopted motherland in time for the world cup! I guess the beer has a huge factor in why me (and any beer fanatic) enjoy being in Belgium but there is just something about being there that makes me feel so relaxed! Time seems to slow down when sitting outside a cafe with great views, tastes and smells that Belgium has to offer. My first visit as an adult was a few years ago when me and my girlfriend visited Brussels for a quick one night stay and we instantly fell in love! The Belgian people have always been super friendly in all my visits and speak better English than my Essex speaking self!
I work in travel and although I have been to some far and exotic places my favourite place to go is Bruges, this can get a nose quite scrunched up and an eyebrow raised by a lot of my work colleagues other than those who have also visited Belgium.
I introduce (force!) Belgian beer as often as I can to my friends who may or may not usually drink beer, I truely believe that in such a huge and diverse market that there is at least one beer that every single person be it alcopop, cider, wine or mass produced lager drinker will enjoy. Even last week I was surprised by a friend of mine who prefers lager to ale, during a quick pre darts match brew in the Dovetail in Farringdon he not only liked Brugge Zot blonde (I thought he would) but it really like the tart sour tastes of the special Leffemans Curvee, a style of drink that can test the tastebuds of any beer drinker let alone a newb!
This leads me onto the main subject of this post, why don’t the Belgians shout about how good their country is? Their towns are picturesque, their cuisine is amazing and can easily match their world famous foodie neighbours of France and their beer is the best in the world! The whole country produces some amazing beer which in comparison to its size is incredible. Yet they almost keep it like a home grown secret, they don’t seem to boast about their beers or work together as a collective force to push their product forward like America does or even the London craft beer scene.
Cue Belgian Beer and Food magazine! I cannot even remember how I stumbled on to the website for the magazine but I saw it and thought I would give it a go. And I am glad I did so as last week my first copy turned up at my door. Editor and publisher Paul Walsh, an Irishman making Belgium his own after moving in there to escape Northern Ireland’s conflict in the 80’s, feels the same as I do with regards to what I mentioned earlier with Belgium needing to be proud and boast about their countries great treasures.
To help spread the word and educate the masses Paul and his team have put together a top notch Belgian Beer and Food magazine, packed with stories of Belgian breweries, sneak peeks into different parts of Belgium and food pairing with great beers and wonderful food. From first page to last it is beautifully packed with enough #beerporn to keep everyone happy, the layout is smart, elegant and well presented but most importantly interesting and great to read.
This issue looks at Poperinge, located in Flanders, and it’s rich history of hop growing. I really enjoyed the articles on Poperinge as its a part of Belgium I have never known about before. Although I love Belgian beers and like to think I know a good number of their beers actually finding out about them can be difficult so this magazine is a great way to keep up to date with all the new happenings as well as learning about the history of Belgium.
When my copy came through the post I was also pleasantly surprised to get a hand written letter with it too from Paul himself! I thought this was a lovely touch and made me feel like I was helping this magazine grow! There was also a invitation for a beer in Brussels one day which I may take up on my next lot of Belgian travels!
The production of the magazine is new, this being only the second issue, and I hope they do really well and keep the printing flowing! There are four issues a year and us in England can have the magazine sent to us for £15.50 a year which is a good price for a magazine of this quality sent from Belgium to my house! I look forward to the next issue and hopefully can try and get hold of the first issue. I really recommend visiting their website for more details http://www.belgianbeerandfood.com