Editorial Dept.'s picture

European News (Issue 26)

by Carolyn Smagalski 

First Ever Scottish Beer Awards

Scotland’s brewing landscape hit a high note this year, exploding into global prominence with the launch of the first ever Scottish Beer Awards. An independent panel of 19 leading experts, including such names as Hilary Jones (Chair), Dr. Bill Simpson, and author Roger Protz, judged the annual beer and business performance competition on May 31st, 2016 in Edinburgh.

Finalists were chosen from a field of 154 beers in the taste segment of the competition. The panel also scrutinized 55 entrants on innovation, export record, product development, business acumen and more.

Finalists for Scottish Brewery of the Year include Black Isle, BrewDog, Edinburgh Beer Factory, Fallen, and Tempest Brewing Company.

Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals will be presented on September 29, 2016 at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange.

Truth in Brewing

Dougal Sharp of Innis & Gunn believes it’s time for honesty and integrity in the U.S. Presidential Campaign. Weaving the magic of alchemy into Smoke & Mirrors, his latest innovative release, Sharp endeavored to extract the truth out of America’s candidates by personally sending bottles of the new release to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Brewed with licorice root, mullein and vine essence, the new beer should put an end to foggy memory and flabby allegations on the campaign trail. But since Trump is a teetotaler, there’s not much chance the truth serum will subdue his loose tongue.

Photo Courtesy Innis & Gunn

Preserving the Pub

With the support of CAMRA, Geoff Brandwood has created a new edition of his book, Britain’s Best Real Heritage Pubs, featuring 260 U.K. pubs of historic significance. Long the force of positive community activity throughout Britain, the pub still lives within the hearts of its citizenry. The new edition focuses on watering holes with enduring legacies, traditionally unchanged for 70 to 100 years, as well as roadhouses, railway pubs, Victorian designs, and recent award winners. Released in time for the Great British Beer Festival in August, the new book has become a fan favorite and is expected to sell out by mid-September.

Historic Firsts for Great British Pubs

The Wandsworth Council of South London has logged a historic first, focused on preventing the demise of pubs of “historic or architectural value.” In a move which singled-out 120 pubs in the region, Council took steps to protect heritage pubs from being converted into flats or shops without prior approval of the councilors. CAMRA applauded the move, encouraging neighboring councils to follow the lead.


by Carl Kins

Show Me the Money

Brewery Het Anker in Mechelen sold a minority shareholder-ship to BNP Paribas Fortis bank for an expansion to the brewery, aimed at more than doubling the brewing capacity.

The Bosteels brewery shareholders, i.e. the family and the private equity company Waterland, which had bought circa 30 % about two years ago, were looking to sell out. In the Belgian press, speculation ran that Heineken and Duvel were possible take-over candidates. Meanwhile, ABI announced they have an agreement. I am convinced they paid a hefty price to keep Heineken from having the Bosteels brands (most importantly Tripel Karmeliet but also Kwak and finally Deus). So, you see, ABI not only buys U.S. or Brazilian craft breweries, but also Belgian ones.  

New Breweries and/or Locations

There’s a new location for Annick De Splenter of the Ghent city brewery Gruut. At the end of August she officially opened her new spot in the Dodoensdreef, the street between Steendam and the Baudelopark. 

Armand Debelder’s LambikOdroom was officially opened in Lot (Molenstraat 47), close to the Senne river. The Lot location contains all except the brewery which remains in Beersel. So, that includes the beer storage, a tasting place, etc. while a Schaarbeekse kriek orchard is being planted.

Brewery De Graal moved to a new location, Industrielaan in Brakel, and is hugely expanded of course, allowing more than doubling the capacity. The main reason was to be able to accommodate even more brews on demand.

The Musketeers, known for their Troubadour beers currently brewed at De Proefbrouwerij, will start their own brewery located in an old brickworks “De Herleving“ in the Reepstraat in Sint-Gillis-Waas.

Hildegard and Bas van Ostaden, formerly of Urthel (brand taken over a few years ago by Bavaria), and now running the restaurant Hoppeschuur and a small brewery now also have a small distilling installation and have launched two gins, Bassets Flanders Dry Gin & Bassets Scarlet Gin.

Van Honsebrouck new brewery (Castle Brewery), named the Beer Castle is finished. The brewery has daily brewery tours, and there is a restaurant on premise. Definitely worth a visit.

L’Ermitage in Brussels have brewed a beer called “Lanterne” in Brasserie de Bastogne, but are looking to open their own brewery. They have placed a bid on a few buildings. Wait and see. This shows more and more breweries will open in Belgium’s capital in next months and years.

Decision has been taken by Antwerp Brewing Company (ABC), brewers of Seef and Bootjesbier, owned by Johan van Dyck, former marketing guru of Duvel. Their brewery will be located in the Noorderpershuis (old pump house for the cranes and sluices of Antwerp) and is expected to be operational at end of 2017.


Eric Verdonck and Luc De Raedemaeker, both well known in Belgian beer circles have co-written a book about Belgian beer, called “The Belgian Beer Book”. You could say, there are already many, but they took a special angle, resulting in a “biblical” size of 2.6 kg (5.7 pounds).  

Belgium’s second biggest beer fest, the one in Bruges goes back to its starting location, the Belfry. However, as this is too small, a big tent will be erected on the Market Square.

Super special “recycling” initiative in beer circles. In 2015, the University of Ghent brewery students made a beer with water, recycled from a brewery’s waste water. They called the beer “From Sewer to Brewer”. This year they took it to a whole different and crazy level. They made an installation running mainly on solar power, that captured people’s urine and filtered this, leading to a dry paste that can be used as a fertilizer, and clean water. With that clean water, they made beer. The idea is to export this water purity device to undeveloped countries where clean water is scarce.   

ABI is the biggest brewery conglomerate in Belgium (and the world), hence there is always news from them. ABI will stop distributing the special and widely used “ridged glasses” for Stella Artois in Belgium. Stella is not perceived as a premium brand in Belgium, merely as an ordinary pils. Pub owners will now only receive either a “smooth” normal glass or a chalice. This is a huge change for the Belgian Stella drinker. And ABI’s aim is of course to erase the idea of non-premium that tourists may perceive when visiting Belgium.

The European Commission, which also serves as the EU’s antitrust watchdog, has launched a probe into ABI over concerns that it is using its dominant position in Belgium to prevent “parallel trade” of its own brands from neighbouring countries. The probe voices concerns that ABI may be “pursuing a deliberate strategy” to curtail imports of its own beers from less expensive countries such as the Netherlands and France to the more expensive Belgian market. They are doing so by having and selling all kinds of different bottle and can sizes.

Photo Courtesy of Seef

by Max Bahnson

Ales on the Rise

It would have been unthinkable just a few years ago: Plzeňský Prazdroj, the largest brewing conglomerate in the Czech Republic and producer of one of the world's most iconic beers, Pilsner Urquell, presenting an ale under one of their core brands, Velkopopovický Kozel. So far, it's been only one of the monthly special brews of the Brew Master's Selection, a series that began two years ago. Initially, the series was limited to presenting lesser known products of the group, but this year, they have introduced a couple of ad-hoc brewed beers, including this A.P.A. It has failed to get much love from the local beer enthusiasts, but it is clear proof of how far ale has gotten in Lagerland.

Speaking of things that would have been hard to imagine a few years back – Makro, by far the largest Cash & Carry chain, is offering beers from selected microbreweries in specially refrigerated shelves. On the other side of the border, in Slovakia, Tesco have taken things a step further. They have commissioned Karpát, a local microbrewery, to brew for them a series of beers under the brand Tesco Finest including an IPA, a porter and a stout. 

Photo Courtesy of Makro

by Jim Dykstra

Oktoberfest 2016: Beer Over Fear

The world's largest beer festival begins September 17 and will last until October 3. Why not until the end of October?

According to Oktoberfest's official website: "By moving the festivities up, it allowed for better weather conditions. Because the September nights were warmer, the visitors were able to enjoy the gardens outside the tents and the stroll over "die Wiesen" or the fields much longer without feeling chilly. Historically, the last Oktoberfest weekend was in October and this tradition continues into present times."

Sure to spawn hundreds of local festivals across the world, this year's Munich Oktoberfest will be marked by an increased focus on security, as tensions manifest from Munich's recent terrorist attack in which nine were killed. Backpacks will be banned and security checks will increase, as authorities have stated that they will not allow anything to "put a dampener on the festival."

"Security is our highest priority," said Josef Schmid, deputy mayor of Munich and managing director of Oktoberfest. 

This year, around 450 security personnel will be in place, up from last year's 250, which is expected to cost the city a couple million euros, and may ultimately be passed on to festival-goers. As such, attendance is expected to see a significant decline this year, as worries of hostile activity keeps many indoors. 

Here's to a safe celebration of beer in its fertile crescent. 


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