Paul, Ray and Terry
Visit the 11th Kempisch Bierfestival.
Kempisch Bierfestival, Geel, Billard Palace, Kulminator, Barbar, Postiljon, Cultureel Centrum (De Werft), Westvleteren 4.
The 11th Kempisch Bierfestival was to be held in the small town of Geel, 40km east of Antwerp. With the festival open on the Saturday and Sunday we decided to spend the first night in the provincial capitol before travelling onto the venue.
As with the previous trip to Antwerp, we stayed at the Billard Palace, adjacent to the Central Station. This time we made sure we visited
Kulminator (Vleminckveld 32): one of the best beer cafés in Belgium. The owners, Dirk and Leen van Dijk, were founder members of the OBP, and kept a truly amazing list of over 500 different beers. The illuminated beer cellar was on view at the rear of the café and Paul was envious of the collection of old beer glasses. Avoiding Tel’s suggested method of choosing a beer- opening the 100-page menu and sticking in a pin- is recommended if living is a priority. Located at the edge of the old town centre, this bar is a must.
Diner of Spaghetti Bolognaise was washed down with draft Barbar (Lefebvre) in a small bar near Vlasmarkt.
After such a good start to the evenings drinking the rest of the day, spent in the bars located in the old town centre (see Antwerp 1996), went quickly and well. Particularly our meeting, in the bar with the barrel organ, with the Dutch over 60’s women’s hockey team.
A slow start to the day was followed by the local train journey to Geel and our accommodation. With no hotels in central Geel, the Gasthous rooms were above the ground floor restaurant. Postiljon (Technische Schoolstraat 41).
The beer festival was held at the Cultureel Centrum (De Werft) and opened at 14.00. Ray was there for the start and had already made friends with the raffle ticket vendor by the time Paul and Tel arrived after their spek mit herren (bacon and eggs) at a local bar.
The programme detailed 128 different beers and we soon got down to trying at least one of each style. The list of beers tried is attached. One of the nicest was Westvleteren 4 a light blond Trappist beer from Abdij St. Sixtus whilst the most difficult to drink was Iris geuze from Cantillon, a paint stripper Ronseal would have been proud of.
A break was taken mid-evening for food and to try out the bars around the Market Square. Returning to the festival we found out that the raffle ticket vendor was well connected with the organisers and we ended up drinking with them, until the last beers at 2 am when they decided to go home.
When we went down to the restaurant to pay at about 11.00, we were not expecting breakfast, but the owner very kindly provided some. This enabled us to dispense with lunch and get on with a bit of sightseeing and bar visiting (everyone else was in his or her Sunday best) before getting back to the festival and our continued sampling. Having failed to win anything on the raffle the previous day, our ticket seller friend provided selection guidance. Our luck changed dramatically and we went home with some nice prizes! With the earlier close, making breakfast the next day at the correct time became possible.
A leisurely day travelling home.