Antwerp, Belgium, most famously known for its Diamond District, is also a destination for beer lovers. Thus, it’s a great place for a beer festival to be held. Every year for the past 20 years Antwerp has hosted its own beer festival: Beer Passion Weekend (Bierpassie Weekend).
The festival takes place from Friday to Sunday, typically at the end of June. In 2019, the festival was held from 28 to 30 June. A plethora of breweries featured 200+ of their best brews for beer connoisseurs and lovers alike to taste and enjoy.
The festival, located at Groenplaats, a central area of downtown Antwerp, allowed for excellent walking distance to shops and restaurants. The festival did not only offer beer but some food vendors, as well. My friends and I enjoyed a hot dog, with all of the toppings you could dream of, from one of them. For lunch, we ventured away to a local Italian restaurant. We had to be sure that we put enough food in our bellies to balance out the alcohol! Belgian beer is known to be strong.
How does the beer festival work?
This was my first beer festival, nonetheless my first European beer festival. The concept was pretty easy. When you initially arrive, purchase a 20 cubic liter beer glass for €5. For beer, you buy tokens at €2 each. These tokens will be traded for beer, at an average of 1-2 tokens each. Food can also be purchased on the festival grounds in this way. The beer glass is yours to keep (souvenir!), and there are other actual souvenirs to purchase if you like.
What did I drink?
I was taking it slow because I knew I was going to be drinking beer all day and had to go home on a bus later that night. Drunkenness + 5-hour bus ride = a bad, bad time. So, I took my time and sampled 4 beers throughout my day at the Antwerp Beer Passion Weekend. The beers were:
- Rodenbach “Fruitage” – a mix of ales and fruit juice. Served with mint and lime
- Deus Brut – a sparkling beer, similar in taste to Champagne or Prosecco. Served in a flute glass
- Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie “Super Cadix” – a hoppy pale ale
- Deugniet – a Belgian blonde
The Deugniet was my favorite. It was refreshing, had a higher alcohol content than the other beers, but not too high.
Tips from an Antwerp Local
When we were sitting at a table within the festival, a local Antwerp journalist sat with us, and we began talking. He recommended the following places when visiting Antwerp:
- Museum at the river (MARS)
- Shopping streets – spread around the city
- Zoo (ZOO Antwerpen)
- Cathedral of our Lady
- Port of Antwerp – the main port of the city. The port is currently the second-largest European port and kicked Bruges out of its place way back around the 16th century, making it a large port even in the Middle Ages
Nightlife in the city is also good, he said.
I love getting tips from locals, and this guy gave us loads! Other places of interest to visit around Antwerp are the Diamond District and Grote Markt, the central square of the city that features Flemish Renaissance architecture. The city also has lots of street art, great culinary destinations/specialties (think waffles, frites, mussels, chocolate), and many museums that you can check out if that’s your thing.
There are plenty of things to see and do in Antwerp, especially the Beer Passion Weekend, held every summer. The dates for 2020 have yet to be announced but to keep posted on the festival information, visit its website.
I’ve never considered myself a “Beer Sommelier,” but I am now after experiencing the Antwerp Beer Passion Weekend in Belgium.
What is your favorite beer?
Fun Fact: Like other areas of Belgium, the residents of Antwerp (stylized Antwerpen) speak Flemish, a dialect of Dutch.
Until my next adventure,