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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Belgian Beer: History, Trips, and Sips

Evening Program with Tasting

Friday, November 16, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1B0291
A toast to Bruges, Belgium

Belgian beer dates back to the first Crusade, long before Belgium became an independent country, as French and Flemish abbeys brewed and sold the beverage as a means to raise funds. During the seven centuries that followed, the traditional artisanal brewing methods known today evolved and were heavily influenced by Belgium’s abbey breweries.

Modern abbey breweries range from microbreweries large ones, and even though all their products do not conform to rigid brewing styles, most tend to include the most recognizable Trappist style beers: dark brown dubbel ales, strong golden tripel ales and blonde ales. With approximately 235 breweries producing thousands of different beers, Belgium is a favorite destination for beer-loving travelers from all over the world.

Join CharlesChuck Cook, a journalist and photographer specializing in writing about Belgian beer, as he surveys some of the country’s can’t-miss breweries and tasting cafes, some of which date back 200 years. Based on his visits to more than 175 breweries during 35 trips to Belgium, Cook offers a personal guide to hidden gems, must-see sites, and tips and tricks for making the most of a beer-focused trip through Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels. He also examines regional differences among breweries, including brewing styles.

Then Tom Peters, the owner of the iconic Monk’s Café in Philadelphia who has been dubbed the “Godfather of Belgian Beer,” offers suggestions on places in America to enjoy authentic Belgian brews if you can’t make it to Europe. He explores how the evolution of American craft beer has influenced Belgian makers, talks about his collaboration with Brussels brewery Brasserie de la Senne, and leads a tasting that contrasts the fruit of their Belgo-American collaboration, a special new double saison labeled Major Tom, with a more traditional saison.

Other Connections

“To find one the most important bars in America, look for a small neon sign that reads ‘Beer Emporium.’ It’s down a dark street in Philadelphia, barely out of the reach of the sports bars with thumping music that echoes down the street. Above that sign is a black awning adorned with letters that look like they belong in Bruges. The only way to know you’ve really made it is to push open the large red door and walk down a dark hallway, until you reach the Holy Grail that is Monk’s Cafe.” Learn how Monk’s Café—and Tom Peters—became legends in the craft-beer world.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)