Winters BierFestival In Images | 10 Defining Festival Photos

Winters BierFestival In Images | 10 Defining Festival Photos

The second ‘Winters Bierfestival’ organised by the ‘Waregemse Bierfanaten’ (Waregem Beer Fans) and Bierhalle Deconinck took place on Saturday 29 November 2014 between 2pm and 10pm in this huge beer shop on Vichte’s Bosstraat.

WINTERS BIERFESTIVAL PHOTOS

Here are 10 photos which captured the atmosphere of the Winters Bierfestival.

1. THE CHANGING BREWERY LINE-UP

Of the 13 breweries that poured at this year’s Winters Bierfestival, 12 of them were doing so for the first time.

This is because the Waregemse Bierfanaten and Bierhalle Deconinck have taken a decision to bring as new a line-up of breweries as they possibly can to the festival every year.

In this way, the festival maintains a fresh vibe and it means members of the beer club who attend every year, as well as the locals of Vichte, have the opportunity to try different beers from different breweries at each edition.

The Waregemse Bierfanaten and Bierhalle Deconinck are careful to ensure that this policy of diversity does not affect the quality of breweries pouring, with breweries as different as Brasserie les 3 Fourquets and Alvinne sharing the room, and emerging breweries such as D’Oude Maalderij present.

2. FAMILY FUN

Winters Bierfestival is a festival for young and old and this was evident looking around the Bierhalle Deconinck at the grandparents moving around with their grandchildren.

Some children even got more involved than others in celebrating Belgian beer culture at the festival, the small boy in the photo above deciding that the brewers needed a little bit of help with the presentation of some of the beers.

3. THE VILLAGE OF VICHTE

With a population of just a few thousand, Vichte might sometimes be overlooked.

But the village boasts a privately-owned 16th Century castle and it has a Roman church which now serves as a cultural centre.

Vichte is situated in the heartland of the Flemish red brown ale style, and the village’s own brewery, Brouwerij Verhaeghe, was there at the festival pouring their Barbe range as well as their famous Duchesse De Bourgogne.

4. THE INTERNATIONAL FLAVOUR

While this is certainly a Belgian beer festival, the inclusion of the White Pony Brewery gave an international flavour to proceedings.

White Pony’s owner is Roberto Orano (pictured above), a young Italian whose father was born in Liège in Wallonia. He brews between his own small unit in Padova, Italy and contracting out of ‘t Gaverhopke in Harelbeke/Stasegem.

His love of Belgian beer is obvious from the styles of his own line-up. ‘The Oracle’ is White Pony’s Belgian Barleywine of 10.7% ABV, an extreme beer which helped White Pony sell the most tokens of any brewery at the festival.

5. THE ‘WINTER’ BEERS

The Winters Bierfestival lives up to its name.

Every brewery pouring at the festival is asked only one thing: that they bring along a ‘Winter’ beer to the festival.

Winter beers are usually stronger (and often darker) ales which warm the cockles on long cold dark nights and there were some interesting versions available in Bierhalle Deconinck, including Brouwerij Ter Dolen’s aptly named ‘Winter’ (9.5% ABV) and Brouwerij De Vlier’s ‘Christmas Spicy’ (8.5% ABV).

6. THE WAREGEMSE BIERFANATEN

“A lot of work goes into the preparation and organisation of this festival,” says Secretary of the Waregemse Bierfanaten, Geroen Vansteenbrugge (pictured above). “The volunteers do amazing work.”

The aims of the Waregemse Bierfanaten are ‘to preserve and promote all aspects of Belgian beer culture by focussing on tasting and discovering different flavours, enriching knowledge about beer and beer culture, and raising the awareness of beer as the national drink of Belgium’.

7. UP CLOSE WITH THE BREWERS

Unlike a lot of festivals with much bigger line-ups of breweries, it’s possible to spend some time chatting face-to-face with the brewers of the beer.

Luc Vermeersch of Brouwerij De Leite spent the day telling festivalgoers the story of is his beers.

8. THE BIERHALLE DECONINCK

While the venue for this festival is essentially a large warehouse hall, it is also a family beer shop run by Stijn Dauw, his brother Bram, his mother Mieke, and his partner Melissa Dhooge. Their enthusiasm for this event was obvious.

“Bierhalle Deconinck are really important to us,” says Patrick Verbauwen, a volunteer at the festival.  “Without them, there would have been no festival.”

9. THE IRISH CONNECTION

There was even an Irish influence in the beer list.

It came in the form of the ‘Aul Bruin Bagger’, an ‘Oud Bruin’ style beer brewed at ‘t Hofbrouwerijke in Beerzel in a collaboration with Irish gypsy brewers, the Brown Paper Bag Project.

Cad í an Ghaeilge ar ‘Oud Bruin’?

10. THE EVA DAMES (AND DAVID)

There’s a bitter beer of 6.1% ABV called ‘Eva’ which is brewed in Belgium only by women.

As you have probably noticed from the picture above, there is one member of the group who is not a woman. It’s David Le Roy, representing his partner, Sofie Vanrafelghem, who is the creator of the ‘Vrouwen en Bier’ project.

Also in the photo are Gudrun Vandoorne (on the left of the photo) of Brouwerij ‘t Gaverhopke where Eva is brewed, and Melissa Dhooge (centre) of Bierhalle Deconinck.

Rumour has it that the next Eva beer will be brewed only by women called ‘Eva’.

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Certified Cicerone®. Accredited beer sommelier (UK Institute of Brewing & Distilling). Certified 'algemene bierkenner' (CVO Panta Rhei, Ghent). Beer Writer of the Year 2015. Best Young Beer Writer 2015. Best Beer and Food Writer 2015 (British Guild of Beer Writers).