Belgium is reportedly home to 195 breweries, 93 beer firms and five gueuzeries.
But you don’t need to visit Belgium to enjoy the country’s amazing beers.
The season of beer festivals is upon us in full force; the Coachella Valley may not be the home of as many festivals as our neighbors in Los Angeles or San Diego—but you can always make a day trip to one of those aforementioned cities.
That’s what I’ll be doing on Sunday, May 15. Join us as we head out on the party bus from the Coachella Valley to Belgian Fest 2016, at Stone Brewery World Bistro and Gardens at Liberty Station in San Diego for a wonderful day of Belgian brews paired with delicious dishes. The bistro opened in May 2013 in Point Loma’s now-historic Naval Training Center.
More and more craft beer lovers have descended upon the desert, and a loyal group of us are planning a second annual trip down to Stone Brewery. Last June, we chartered a bus and took a trip down to Stone’s headquarters in Escondido for the Stone Sour Fest.
This year, prepare for dubbels, tripels, quadrupels, wits, saisons, lambics, gueuzes and Flanders-style red ales—all without taking a trip to Brussels.
A $125 ticket includes:
- A round trip luxury bus tour; the motor coach leaves from Coachella Valley Brewing Co. at 9 a.m.
- Breakfast at CVB before departing.
- A bottle share on the bus.
- Stone Belgian Fest admission.
- A commemorative glass.
- All tasters are on draft, and Belgian-inspired food dishes at the event are included.
The second annual Stone Belgian Fest is held at the hip gastropub and brewery, which encompasses more than 23,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor dining and bars.
Food stations will be set up throughout the gardens. Enjoy Flemish carbonnade (with caramelized onions and beer-braised Belgian beef) or croquettes—with a thick, creamy beer-cheese filling! Don’t miss the dessert station, featuring apfelstrudel, Belgian chocolate raspberry truffle tarts and a waffle bar.
While Belgian beers may account for only 1 percent of all beer produced in the world, they have an unrivaled heritage and display some of the greatest diversity among the original beer styles.
A partial list of what will be poured at the festival:
- Brasserie D’Achouffe La Chouffe, an outstanding Belgian pale ale with notes of Belgian yeast, caramel and brown sugar.
- Cascade Brewing Barrel House Kriek Ale, a gold-medal-award-winning barrel-aged and sour beer from Portland, Ore. This “Belgian Flanders Style Red Ale” is re-fermented with a blend of fresh whole Northwest cherries and then hand-bottled.
- Dogfish Head/Victory/Stone Saison du BUFF, a collaboration between the three award-winning breweries. Sam from Dogfish, Greg from Stone and Bill from Victory joined forces to create the Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor (BUFF). The saison is brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme—with the same recipe at each brewery. The 2016 release will be from Stone.
- Epic Brainless on Peaches. Utah’s Epic took the award-winning Brainless Belgian, added organic peach puree, and aged it in French chardonnay casks from Sawtooth Winery. This is delicious and perfect in warm weather.
- Mikkeller / To Øl Juicebag Barrel Aged Grand Marnier—a collaboration and a treat. To Øl is a gypsy brewery out of Denmark, while Mikkeller’s Mikkel Botg Bjergso is one of the most innovative and cutting-edge brewers in the world. Find notes of chocolate, apricots, sour raisins and red berries.
- Off Color Brewing Apex Predator, an outstanding farmhouse ale with a solid aroma of banana, melon and lemons.
- Sierra Nevada Ovila Quad With Cherries: Think clove, banana, cherries, vanilla, bubblegum, fig and brown-sugar complexity—done beautifully.
- Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale: What can I say … this one goes to 11! This 9.4 percent alcohol by volume ale is brewed with Anaheim chiles from New Mexico’s Hatch Valley, plus whole cinnamon sticks.
- The Bruery Tart of Darkness is a sour stout aged in used oak barrels that previously housed Bruery beers such as Sucré or Black Tuesday. “Sour stout” may sound weird, but it’s nothing short of amazing: It starts like a tart wild ale and finishes like a dark roasted stout, with gorgeous complexity in between.
- The Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme, an 11 percent ABV American wild ale aged in bourbon oak barrels with sour cherries for one year, giving it layers of vanilla and sourness. This is a big beer; pair with one of the dessert dishes.
To reserve your ticket on the bus, contact Gary Grotsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This isn’t a typical beer festival—this is a festival for beer geeks. This is a festival for foodies. This is a festival for Belgian beer lovers. Enjoy it with your fellow Coachella Valley craft-beer drinkers!