Sunday, February 09, 2014

Ashley’s to Host Country’s Largest Belgian-Only Beer Festival Eleven Days of Belgian Beer Tastings, Events, and Guests Take Place Feb. 6-16

Written by  Paul Starr
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 Ashley’s to Host Country’s Largest Belgian-Only Beer Festival Eleven Days of Belgian Beer Tastings, Events, and Guests Take Place Feb. 6-16

Sixth-generation brewers and owners of Belgium's Brasserie de Silly will kick off the largest pure Belgian beer festival in the U.S., hosted at Ashley's Beer and Grill in Westland Thursday, February 6. The 11-day event features more than 200 beers in bottles and on tap, all brewed by around 80 different Belgian family and boutique breweries. Unlike other such festivals, Ashley’s offers only the “real McCoy,” excluding “Belgian-style” ales brewed in America.
Ashley’s to Host Country’s Largest Belgian-Only Beer Festival Eleven Days of Belgian Beer Tastings, Events, and Guests Take Place Feb. 6-16“With the explosion of craft beer in the U.S., many American brewers are making their own versions of Belgian ales,” said Ashley’s co-owner Roy More. “We believe it’s important for beer lovers to experience the originals in order to put the imitators in their proper context, so that’s what we offer with this festival.”

Cousins Lionel and Bertrand Van Der Haegen will travel from Silly, Belgium, to Westland to meet with festgoers and local homebrewers and talk about Brasserie de Silly, their family-owned brewery founded in 1850 and this year’s featured festival brewery. Attendees will have the chance to sample from Silly’s diverse portfolio of ales as well as ask questions of the brewers.

“Belgian beers represent the highest end of the quality spectrum and are enjoying a surge in popularity as more folks find out about them,” according to Steve Villani, president of the Boston-based Global Beer Network, an importer specializing in Belgian ales. Belgian beers are appreciated by both craft beer drinkers and sophisticated wine drinkers, he noted, and like wine, many Belgian beers are living liquids that evolve with age and are described in the same terms of look, aroma, and taste as is fine wine.

In fact, Belgium has more recognized styles of beer per capita than any other country. Ashley’s festival, now in its fourth year, showcases what Villani and other experts recognize as among the best beers in the world through Belgian-inspired food, hosted happy hours, educational events, beer-paired dinners, Sunday waffle brunches, a Valentine’s Day beer-and-chocolate pairing, and more.

New this year is the February 8 Belgian Beer Bottle Festival, an affordably priced “festival within the festival” whereby guests can taste a diverse array of rare and otherwise hard-to-find bottled beers, many of them typically costing more than the average beer buyer may be willing to spend alone. Opportunities for multiple year vintage “vertical” tastings of certain beers will also be available.

Ashley’s also plans to introduce more than 20 new beers with the help of another special guest, Christine Celis, daughter of the late influential Belgian brewer Pierre Celis and Belgian beer liaison for importers Authentic Beverage Management.

“This festival gives our guests a rare opportunity to explore the diversity of all these amazing Belgian beers at one time and in one place, as well as the culture of a unique country,” said More. “With up to 45 different Belgian beers on tap at a time, it even surpasses anything you could find in Belgium itself.”

About Ashley’s:

With locations in Ann Arbor and Westland, Ashley’s is known as “Michigan’s Premier Multi-tap.” DRAFT magazine has repeatedly named Ashley’s one of the 100 best beer bars in the country and in 2013 CraftBeer.com ranked Ashley's among the top 3 in the Midwest. Last year marked Ashley’s 30th anniversary of promoting America’s craft beer renaissance, featuring monthly releases in both Ann Arbor and Westland of specially brewed commemorative beers from some of the country’s leading breweries. More information on Ashley’s can be found at www.ashleys.com and on the Belgian Beer Festival at abbf.ashleys.com.

Paul Starr

Paul Starr

Paul Starr is the creator of the I'm a Beer Hound and one of the organizer and the driving force behind Art & Craft Beerfest, Lansing Beer Fest, Beerfest at the Ballpark Spring & Fall. When he's not working on Beer Hound he's probably watching the Lions, Tigers or Red Wings. Being a recent new Dad of twins, he doesn't have much extra time these days for mischief.