Den Dyver, Bruges
It seemed to good to be true. Tourism Flanders was inviting me on a four-day trip of Belgian beer, and the only thing they required in return was that I write at least one blog post about it? With no constraints whatever on the content? The email seemed way too professional for a scam, though, and the conditions and details were very convincing and well thought out. So in the end I decided manna really had descended from heaven, totally unexpected, and undeserved.
They'd invited eight Scandinavian beer bloggers, who were all going to travel together. I had already planned a one-week beer journey in May (more to come on that). Was I going to do yet another trip without my family? I showed the email to my wife, but she understood at once. "Of course you have to go." So that was that. I really was going.
I had some difficulty understanding why they'd choose me. I don't really market myself as a beer blogger, and the blog also covers other things besides beer. The guy responsible for the tour, Stijn, said they used Google PageRank and Alexa, plus reading of the contents to pick blogs. Most of my visitors come from Reddit, so I guess in one way I probably owe the good readers of Reddit for this tour. Thank you all! I hope this series of blog posts in some way pays you back.
The actual tour was planned in detail by Stijn, who sent us a very detailed programme, describing our itinerary, where to show up, options, timing, what to with luggage, how transport was handled, and so on. All that remained for us was to follow the plan like robots, take lots of photos and notes, and at the end translate it all into blog posts.
The itinerary was long and detailed, sometimes starting as early as 0915, sometimes ending as late as 2300. The only real breaks were when we were driving from one place to another. That may sound tiring, and it was, but on the other hand we were doing what we loved most, and we did not have to do anything much except tag along and not get too drunk. So I'm not complaining.
The whole group, at Boelens
The bloggers themselves were an interesting group, and a lot of fun to travel with. Note that in the list below, only the first blog is in English. It's also the only one I've read so far (except BeerTicker), but I'm adding the other ones to my feed reader now. After all, Tourism Flanders says they're the best Scandinavian beer blogs!
- Knut Albert
- Probably the Norwegian blog about beer in English, and one that's been around for many, many years. He's also a fellow Ratebeerian and friend.
- Swedish blog by Jens Skrubbe, barman at Pressklubben in Stockholm, and a long-time entusiast of Belgian beer. By now he's gathered an encyclopedic knowledge of Belgian beer, which was very useful on the trip.
- Another Swedish blog by Johan Lenner, focusing on beer and bar reviews. He's also a bartender, at Pitcher's in Falun.
- Also in Swedish, also with a focus on beer reviews, but with other more miscellaneous things in between. This one by Magnus Bark, who, like me, is a beer civilian.
- Malt Humle Jäst och Vatten
- Written by the bar manager at Mikkeller and Friends in Copenhagen, Fredik, who writes about events at that bar, beer reviews, and miscellanea. Why he writes in Swedish if he lives in Copenhagen? Because he's Swedish.
- A blog by Peter Myrup Olesen that covers everything that happens in the Danish beer market, which is actually a lot, so it's a busy blog.
- Carsten Berthelsen
- Last, but definitely not least, Carsten Berthelsen, who must be the best known "beer personality" in Denmark. He's written a number of beer books, writes regularly in newspapers and magazines, and also runs something like 2-3 beer tastings a week.
I'll get back to the actual contents of the trip later. For now, suffice it to say that travelling with a group of hard-core enthusiasts was a fun experience. Especially when they knew so much about Belgian beer and could provide additional background to what we saw.
Stijn had hired a driver, Jan, and in a typically Belgian touch, Jan runs his own beer tour company. His wife is Japanese, so he speaks Japanese and has driving Japanese tourists as his speciality. As in Lithuania, the driver got a little beer, too, on the brewery visits, although only very small amounts. Although this would be anathema in Norway I've come to accept that things are different elsewhere. As Skrubbe shouted when he bought a Stella Artois in Leuven: "when in Rome, do as the Romans."
Our minibus, outside de Kroon
One of the benefits of this kind of tour is that you get to meet the people behind the various bars and breweries, and to hear them tell the story behind the company and explain how they think
Read | 2014-05-09 16:05
Arriving at the de Kroon Brewery we're met by a smiling, kindly man in his forties
Read | 2014-05-19 21:08
Dave Pawson - 2014-05-03 03:06:58
I'd challenge a couple of statements Lars? "... and undeserved" I think you'd make an excellent choice. " I don't really market myself as a beer blogger," True... but false? Your beer blog entries sell themselves. They do it for you? Hence false.
Look forward to it.
Lars Marius - 2014-05-03 04:05:26
Thank you, Dave. That really is much appreciated. :-)