The Stadsfeestzaal in Sint Niklaas
I arrived about 30 minutes after opening at the hall was already quite full. It helps to have multiple people in your group as you have to stand in three different lines: one to buy tokens, one to buy a glass and another to buy a program. Being alone I had to endure all three lines while over 200 beers were waiting just yards away. But I persevered and soon had a beer.
The crowd at the fest
Each brewery (or sometimes a pair of breweries) has a stand. One of the nice touches is each stand has a glass washer and your glass is cleaned before they serve you a beer. With such a variety of styles it makes sense. I wish more beer festivals did this.
The above stand, De Leite had one of my favorites of the fest so for: Enfant Terriple. It is a triple with a good dose of hop bitterness. Some of those don't work, but this one did. Two thumbs up (both of them being mine).
Of of the more interesting beers was actually one recipe brewed by three different brewers. They all used the same ingredients and the same yeast, but the differences in their process (and I assume water) made the three beers slightly -- but noticeably -- different. The beer was called Trissen and I had one brewed by 'T Hofbrouwerlijke. The others were brewed by the Proefbrouwerij and Brouwerij De Graal.
The most unusal beer I had was "EXPRMTL Brew AD2010" from De Dolle. It was 9% abv, pale yellow in color and was brewed with no hops at all, just spices. The beer was very lemony and refreshing but fairly dry and not at all sweet. Eat your heart out Mikes Hard Lemonade!
As the day progressed, it got harder and harder to make your way around the hall to the brewery stands. I ended up drinking from only the 10 stands right in front of where I was sitting and finally left after about 5 hours. It was just too crowded.
The fest opens at 11am on Sunday and I plan to be there to continue our tradition of drinking lambic beers Sunday morning. Also on the list is the highly recommended Magma from Troubador -- supposed to be the best Belgian Double IPA ever brewed. I do need some hops.