For the past six years, Ashley’s of Westland has hosted it’s Belgian Beer Week, serving only beer brewed in Belgium over an eleven day period. In 2015, they added the North American Belgian Beer Festival and this year are adding a second ‘festival within a festival’ by hosting the Ultimate Funk Beer Fest.
Friday February 12 is the inaugural Ultimate Funk Beer Fest. This event will feature more than 120 beers from 60 breweries in 8 countries. The featured styles will include lambics, gueuzes, Berliner weisses, goses, Flemish red ales, oud bruins, wood-aged ales, rauchbiers, and more. Beers aged in bourbon barrels will be well represented as well, with stouts, quadrupels, Scotch ales, barleywines, and other styles making an appearance.
“As we evolve to ‘Craft Beer 2.0,’ brew enthusiasts are seeking the next big thing,” said Roy More, co-owner of Ashley’s. “American consumers are just now really beginning to discover sour and other funky ales that are in reality based on centuries-old styles. Many are blended and aged for years in oaken barrels, called foeders, before being ready for release like fine wines. The resulting beers are often delicately complex and a rewarding experience for those who have cultivated a taste for them.”
“Since 1983, Ashley’s has existed to help people have a good time and discover new tastes,” said More. “This inaugural Funk Beer Fest is in line with our mission of expanding our guests’ experiences in new ways.”
Saturday February 13 sees the return on the North American Belgian Beer Festival, the country’s largest Belgian-only beer event. The event is sponsored by the Consulate General of Belgium/Flanders Investment and Trade, a partnership that blossomed at last year’s inaugural event.
As many as one thousand attendees will be able to sample more than 220 beers from the more than 80 Belgian breweries represented.
“You would have to go to Belgium to find this many Belgian beers in one place,” said Xavier Van Honsebrouck, fifth generation owner of Van Honsebrouck brewery in Ingelmunster, Belgium — who attended the 2015 festival and plans to attend again this year.
Belgium is recognized by many experts as one of the world’s top beer nations, with Belgian brewers creating more recognized styles of beer per capita than any other country.
“This event showcases exclusively craft beers brewed in Belgium,” said Luc Strybol, head of the economic mission of Flanders. “There will be breweries that trace their roots back a thousand years, breweries that have been owned by the same family for over a hundred years, and others that just formed in the past few years.”
Festival attendees will also have the chance to pair the many unique specialty and boutique brews with a menu of Belgian-inspired “cuisine à la bière.” Brewers and other Belgian beer experts will be on hand to help educate and guide guests through the amazing diversity and complexity of the Belgian beer world.
Due to the success of the last year’s festival, the 2016 event will take place in an expanded, heated tent next to Ashley’s. It will include several educational sampling sessions that cover the history of Belgian brewing, the Trappist monasteries that make beers, and beer blending. New this year is a VIP suite within the festival that will include a private Belgian-inspired buffet as well as exclusive samples.
“To address the growing interest among beer drinkers, many American craft brewers are making their interpretation of Belgian beers,” said Roy More, co-owner of Ashley’s. “This festival offers guests the opportunity to try the originals.” More, along with co-owner and brother Jeff, are frequent visitors to Belgium, where they were both knighted last fall by the Belgian Brewer’s Guild in recognition of their support of the Belgian beer industry.
Tickets for both events are available online at the following links-
Ultimate Funk Fest- www.ashleys.com/events.xhtml
North American Belgian Beer Festival- www.nabbf.org/registration.