So early last year we went to a beer dinner at the Meddlesome Moth featuring the beers from the Brasserie D'Achouffe in the village of Achouffe, Belgium. It was a very small gathering and the featured speaker was the founder of the brewery, Chris Bauweraerts, an entertaining fellow of Flemish decent who charmed the group silly with animated stories of the beginnings of the brewery that he started with his brother in law. Perhaps he was caught up in the moment or perhaps it was a U.S. style 'Let's do lunch' type of statement, but he invited us to come to Achouffe and give us a tour of the brewery. So we did.
Mr. Bauweraerts, though not longer the owner of the brewery (now owned by Duvel) he is still employed by Duvel to be their ambassador. He travels worldwide attending beer festivals, visiting distributors and schmoozing with other brewers. He is kind of like a beer geek's rock star and is visited by the biggest names in the American craft beer industry. We are not brewers, nor writers of multi-read publications and being relative nobodies in the beer world (other than this blog) we really didn't expect much from the tour.
The town of Achouffe is tiny, quiet and is a one industry town with the brewery being pretty much the only game in town. Chris met us at the brewery early in the morning, before the brewery opened and before the beer tourists and geeks started gathering.
For the next hour or so he and his assistant gave us the tour, with stories of the founding and growth of the brand as well as impressing us with his technical expertise. We were quite impressed and flattered that he had taken time out of his busy day to give the dog and pony show to us Texas bumpkins. Very kind indeed. But he did not take his leave after the tour as we expected, he spent the next couple of hours with us having lunch, showing us the town (along with his favorite tree) and showing us his favorite hang out, the InterPol Pub, which hopefully you read about earlier.
When you visit Achouffe (you should, you know, it's cool as shit) you can stay with Pol and Tine at the Vieille Forge (http://vieilleforge.freehostia.com/index.php?Itemid=54) or with our friends Ivo and Anja at Hotel l'Espine (http://www.lespine.be/page.asp?langue=EN&DocID=119948) which is a short stroll away from the brewery.
After the tour you should hang out at 'Taverne-Restaurant' where you can sit by the fire continue to feed your buzz with all of the beers from the brewerey. The chef, Jean-Luc Teugels prepares fine versions of traditional Belgian fare (I highly recommend the meat balls) and has a dandy patio where you can spend your day.
I cannot put into words how flattered we are to have Mr. Bauweraerts spend so much time with us and for his hospitality. I will now return to my sarcastic, smart ass self and will quit gushing like a school girl.