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1 The Belgian Beer Weekend, Brussels

Belgians are notoriously serious about their beer. For a start, their brews tend to average about 8 per cent proof. And so it only seems right to pick a nation that drinks the rest of the world under the table for the location of our top alternative beer festival.

This year, the 14th Belgian Beer Weekend is happening on the weekend of August 31-September 2. Beer lovers will see the Grand Place in Brussels filled with brews from both small and large Belgian brewers.

Not only is Belgian beer the most potent, but the country is also known for creating the biggest choice of colours and flavours in the world. There are 450 types of beer – fruity beers, red beers, golden beers and beers that have been brewed since the Middle Ages. And many have special glasses that are only allowed to be used for that type of beer. ‘Dedication’ isn’t the word.

While you swill the heady Belgian brew, you’ll see processions of historical brewery carts and beer wagons, plus live marching bands.

But the best part of the procession is the brewers themselves, who take tradition seriously. The ‘Knighthood of the Brewers Mash Staff’ –  aka the Belgian Brewers Guild, made up of those who have made a significant contribution to the profession – wear historical brewers’ garb as they parade through the streets around the Grand Place. The Mash Staff take their drinking so seriously, they’ve set up a series of annual festivals devoted to Gambrinus, the ‘King of Beer’ – a 13th-century Flanders monarch who loved his ale more than most.

Stay nearby, at 2 Go 4, just down the road from the Grand Place (rooms from £20 per person per night) – you’ll be thankful after a few litres.

Can you squeeze all 450 types of Belgian beer into one weekend?

Click the next page for more beer festivals


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