Sunday, February 16, 2014

Recap of Ashley's 4th Annual Belgian Beer Festival

Written by  Erik Smith
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For the fourth year in a row, Ashley’s of Westland is hosting their annual Belgian Beer Festival.
Featuring over 70 Belgian Beers on draft, and over 200 in bottles, the festival focuses on the Belgian equivalent of the USA’s craft beer market- there won’t be any Stella Artois, Leffe or Hoegaarden served at this festival. One of the special features of the festival is the use of the breweries’ special glassware- which required a special permit as the use of logoed glassware is against Michigan liquor laws. Ashley’s also offers a special Belgian-inspired food menu for the event.

Each year, Ashley’s brings in a featured brewer, and this year’s is Brasserie de Silly of Silly, Belgium. The brewery’s very own Lionel & Bertrand Van der Haegen were on hand for the first weekend of the festival, introducing their beers, interacting with guests, signing bottles, and participating in a question and answer session at an event with homebrewers on Sunday afternoon. The cousins are the 6th generation of the family in the brewing business. They brought a full line of their products, including standards Scotch Silly and Silly Saison, but also the well-reputed Silly Sour and Silly Noel. As a special treat, bottles of Scotch Silly aged in either port or Bordeaux barrels were available for carry-out while supplies last.

The banner event for the festival took place on Saturday, February 8th, the ‘festival within the festival’ known as the Belgian Bottle Festival. This sold out event featured over 200 bottles of Belgian beers, many of which are rare and highly sought after, available at 10 stations through the restaurant. Each guest received an Ashley’s Belgian Beer Festival Glass and 20 tickets for 2 oz. sample pours. (Some of the rarer beers were 2-3 tickets.) The event truly had a festive atmosphere, with happy beer drinkers interacting with brewers, distributor representatives, and fellow drinkers with a passion for quality beer. One of the most popular stations was hosted by Christine Celis, the daughter of famed Belgian brewer Pierre Celis, who founded the Hoegaarden Brewery back in 1966. She is now working as an importer for Austin-based Authentic Beverage Management, and they are important some great Belgian boutique beers, which were highly reviewed by visitors to the Bottle Festival.

The Festival continued through Sunday, February 16th, with special happy hours throughout the week and special dinnerson Friday and Saturday. The Scaldis Dinner on Saturday night (3 course fixed-price dinner paired with Dubuisson beers) offered not only the opportunity to sample great Belgian food, but also meet Marc Lemay of Brasserie Dubuisson.

More information is available at their festival’s website-http://abbf.ashleys.com and also at the Facebook page- Ashley’s Belgian Beer Festival.

Erik Smith

Erik Smith

Erik Smith is a relative newcomer to craft beer, having first been turned on to the scene by a chance encounter with "The End of The World" (Unibroue's La Fin du Monde) during the summer of 2011. Since then, he has increased that love of beer by serving as the 'un-official' photographer for the many beer events at Ashley's in Westland, MI. His goal is to visit every Michigan brewery. An avid traveler, beer tourism has played a prominent role in his travels since 2012. 

Find him on Untapped at eriksmithdotcom and at his blog at http://onmyfeetorinmymind.com/