This year, we were lucky enough to be invited to Cooperstown, New York to take part in Brewery Ommegang’s annual camping and music festival, Belgium Comes to Cooperstown.
It’s a famous festival in the northeast, with thousands of people setting up for a full weekend of bottle sharing, music, food, and of course, the beer festival part. And this year, as part of our Underwriting collaboration with Brewery Ommegang, we wanted to help lead a conversation around this idea of Belgian. Weather it’s Belgian-inspired, as you’ll hear U.S. brewers often say, or it’s authentically Belgian, or Belgian style, or anyways strain, or it’s some part of a brewing process, an ingredient, or even the mystery and closely guarded secrets that sometimes distinguishes Belgian brewing from other traditions. And of course, what parts of that even matter in 2018 when so much of what’s happening in the most popular aspects of American craft beer seem to be moving in the opposite direction. At least for now. Even Brewery Ommegang, somewhat of a trendsetter when they opened back in 1997, is on that 2018 juicy IPA trend with an excellent entry of their own. And if you look at the history of Belgian brewing, full of pilsners and English ales, and the likes, no one can reasonably scoff at the idea. Keeping the lights on and brewing beers that people want, even if only for a time, is as much a part of the Belgian brewing tradition as anything else we associate it with. Brasserie Dupont taught me that.
But that’s only one part of the conversation. There are so many aspects of American craft brewing we take for granted that are basically driven by the brewing traditions Belgium then and now. And we wanted to talk about all of it as part of our underwriting series called Message in a Bottle.
So we invited a bunch of brewers, a few cider makers, and people who work in the longer value chain of craft beer around the world to try and get a sense of where this long tradition of Belgian influence hots America’s shores today.
This episode is the keynote conversation called “Message in a Bottle”
Generations of brewers have been inspired by Belgian brewing. What’s so appealing? How has it been put to use? And where is it going next?
The panelists are:
Geoff Wenzel, New Belgium Brewing
Nick Purdy, Wild Heaven Beer
Phil Leinhart, Brewery Ommegang