Brussels’ first international beer festival celebrates brews from around the world


The inaugural edition of the BxlBeerFest takes place this month, with a focus on small, independent breweries

On food and drink in Flanders

Belgium has a beer culture that's recognised across the world, but - despite being the capital of that culture - Brussels has never had an international beer festival of its own. Until now.

The BxlBeerFest will take place at Tour & Taxis, featuring upwards of 50 breweries, the majority of them from outside Belgium.

“We have the Belgian Beer Weekend on the Grote Markt, but it’s not the same thing,” explains Kevin Desmet, one of the organisers. “That’s wholly for Belgian beer – the big industrial brewers and the big family brewers. We’re focusing on smaller, independent breweries from Belgium and outside Belgium. We have about 50 breweries, and only about 21 from Belgium. The others are from outside Belgium – about six from the USA, four from Canada, the rest are from Spain, Italy and so on.”

The idea came from a meeting of four beer enthusiasts at the opening almost two years ago of the Brewdog pub opposite Brussels Central station – a pub created to sell the beers of a Scottish brewery. “We were sitting there and decided we should really do something,” says Desmet. “Every other major city has its own international beer festival except Brussels, despite it being known for its beer.”

As well as Desmet, who blogs as the Belgian Beer Geek, the four were Jean Hummler, owner of the Moeder Lambic beer temples in Sint-Gillis and central Brussels; Olivier Desmet of the beer restaurant Nuetnigenoeg in central Brussels; and fellow blogger Vincent Callut of the webzine Happy Beer Time and the website

Fifty breweries are now involved, serving 200 beers. They include familiar Belgian names like Cantillon, Brasserie de la Senne and Brouwerij ’t Verzet (pictured), as well as Ocelot and Melvin (US), Dunham from Canada, Lambrate and Hilltop from Italy, and Anspach & Hobday from the UK.

“We’ll have food as well. There’s an onsite restaurant managed by Dirk Myny from Les Brigittines in Brussels, where you can have a full menu at a table in the festival but a bit removed at the same time. Outside we’ll have a range of food trucks offering specialities. Not the usual fricandelles, hamburgers and frieten. It will be a bit better than that.”

Photo courtesy ’t Verzet/BxlBeerFest

26-27 August, Tour & Taxis, Havenlaan, Brussels