Beer Birthday: Marc Lemay

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Today is the birthday of Marc Lemay, who runs Brasserie Dubuisson Frères in Pipaix, Belgium. I first met Marc at a beer dinner in Chicago several years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. Best of all, after another dinner at the Belgium Brewers Guild house in the Grand Place a few years ago — where inexplicably no frites were served, a unpardonable sin, especially in Belgium — and so afterwards, Marc took me too his favorite late night frites spot in Brussels (which I’ve been back to several times since). Marc’s a terrific person (plus I love his beer). Join me in wishing Marc a very happy birthday.

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Marc in 2013 showing off a bottle of Cuvee des Trolls.

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Marc with Wendy Littlefield during a beer dinner in Chicago in 2010.

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Marc at a dinner in Brussels in the Belgian Beer Guild’s hall in the Grand Place.

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Pouring us some beer during a lunch at the Dubuisson brewery.

ABI Buys Brouwerij Bosteels

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I was at a conference in Sacramento most of the day, but it was hard to escape the jaw-dropping news that Anheuser-Busch InBev has acquired another brewery to add to its growing portfolio. That kind of news is becoming almost routine, but this time the brewery they bought is a little surprising. Brouwerij Bosteels, who until this deal was a member of the Belgian Family Brewers, makes a trio of high profile, well-known beers: Kwak, Tripel Karmeliet and DeuS. Until now, the brewery had been in the same family — the Bosteels — for over 200 years, and seven generations, having been founded Evarist Bosteels in 1791.

While the price was not disclosed, the rumor is $225 million, or “15 times enterprise value to Ebitda,” according to The Street, by way of reports coming out of Belgium. Antoine Bosteels will continue to run the family business

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Antoine Bosteels (center, with his father to the right) during a visit to the brewery in 2013.

Via Craft Business Daily, Korneel Warlop, who is the Manager External Communication BeLux & Global at Anheuser-Busch InBev, said “Bosteels will continue brewing its heritage brands Tripel Karmeliet, Kwak and DeuS in the original brewery in Buggenhout, Belgium.

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The Bosteels brewery during a second trip there, also in 2013.

Beer Birthday: Frank Boon

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Today is the 62nd birthday of Frank Boon, from the Belgian lambic brewery Brouwerij Boon. In 1978, Boon acquired the small “R. De Vits” Lambiek brewery that dated back to 1680, relocating the brewery to downtown Lembeek in 1986. His beers are imported to the U.S. by Latis Imports. Like most lambic fans, I’ve enjoyed his beers for many years, and was fortunate enough to meet Frank a few years ago during Philly Beer Week. Join me in wishing Frank a very happy birthday.

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Tom Peters, Frank Boon, Jean Van Roy, Fergie Carey and Armand Debelder at a Lambic Beer Dinner held at Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia a few years ago.

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Frank and me at the Great Lambic Summit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology & Anthropology on June 9, 2010.

Beer Birthday: Don Feinberg

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Today is Don Feinberg’s 61st birthday, along with his wife Wendy Littlefield, ran the Belgian export company Vanberg & DeWulf. Their portfolio included such great beer lines as Dupont, Castelain and Dubuisson (Bush). They were also the original founders of Brewery Ommegang. Five years ago they celebrated their 30th anniversary of being involved in the beer industry and bringing great beer to America. Plus, they’re great fun to hang out and drink with. Unfortunately, a little over a year ago they sold Vanberg & DeWulf, and are taking some time off, before deciding on their next project. Hopefully, we’ll learn something soon. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.

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Don, along with the Dubuisson brewmaster, being poured Lambrucha in Chicago in 2010.

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Wendy and Don at a dinner in Belgium last year.

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Wendy Littlefield, Don and Greg Engert at a Vanberg & DeWulf tasting in Washington, D.C. (photo by Chuck Cook)

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Wendy and Don in 1979.

Historic Beer Birthday: St. Arnulf of Metz

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While records going back this far in time are notoriously unreliable, some sources put the birthday of St. Arnulf of Metz at August 13, 583 C.E., such as Find-a-Grave, among others. He’s also known as Anou, Arnould, Arnold of Metz, and his feast day is July 18. Although even the year is not settled, and some sources give it as 580 or 582 C.E., so the actual likelihood that any of this is correct is pretty low.

“Saint Arnulf of Metz (c. 582 – 640) was a Frankish bishop of Metz and advisor to the Merovingian court of Austrasia, who retired to the Abbey of Remiremont. In French he is also known as Arnoul or Arnoulf. In English he is also known as Arnold.” Metz is located in northeastern France.

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Also, Arnulf is one of at least three patron saints of brewers with similar names, although he is the oldest, and essentially first one. That’s one of the reasons I chose his feast day, July 18, for the holiday I created in 2008, International Brewers Day.

The Saint Arnold most people are familiar with is Arnold of Soissons, and he’s from much later, almost 500 years, and is thought to have been born around 1040 C.E. Less is known about the third, St. Arnou of Oudenaarde (or Arnouldus), and he’s also a patron saint of beer and specifically Belgian brewers, because Oudenaarde is in Flanders. His story takes place in the 11th century.

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Here’s his bio from Find-a-Grave:

Saint Arnulf of Metz (c 582 — 640) was a Frankish bishop of Metz and advisor to the Merovingian court of Austrasia, who retired to the Abbey of Remiremont.

Saint Arnulf of Metz was born of an important Frankish family at an uncertain date around 582. In his younger years he was called to the Merovingian court to serve king Theudebert II (595-612) of Austrasia and as dux at the Schelde. Later he became bishop of Metz. During his life he was attracted to religious life and he retired as a monk. After his death he was canonized as a saint. In the French language he is also known as Arnoul or Arnoulf. Arnulf was married ca 596 to a woman who later sources give the name of Dode or Doda, (whose great grandmother was Saint Dode of Reims), and had children. Chlodulf of Metz was his oldest son, but more important is his second son Ansegisen, who married Saint Begga daughter of Pepin I of Landen.

Arnulf was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. In iconography, he is portrayed with a rake in his hand.

He was the third great grandfather of Charlemagne.

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St. Arnulf in the Metz Cathedral.

The Legend of the Beer Mug

It was July 642 and very hot when the parishioners of Metz went to Remiremont to recover the remains of their former bishop. They had little to drink and the terrain was inhospitable. At the point when the exhausted procession was about to leave Champigneulles, one of the parishioners, Duc Notto, prayed “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.” Immediately the small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot multiplied in such amounts that the pilgrims’ thirst was quenched and they had enough to enjoy the next evening when they arrived in Metz.

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And here’s another account from Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites:

During an outbreak of the plague a monk named Arnold, who had established a monastery in Oudenburg, persuaded people to drink beer in place of water and when they did, the plague disappeared.

Arnold spent his holy life warning people about the dangers of drinking water. Beer was safe, and “from man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world,” he would say.

The small country of Belgium calls itself the ‘Beer Paradise’ with over 300 different styles of beer to choose from. Belgium boasts of centuries old tradition in the art of brewing. In the early Middle Ages monasteries were numerous in that part of Europe, being the centers of culture, pilgrimage and brewing. Belgium still has a lot of monasteries and five of these are Trappist, a strict offshoot of the Cis­tercian order, which still brews beer inside the monastery.

During one outbreak of the plague St. Arnold, who had established a monastery in Oudenburg, convinced people to drink beer instead of the water and the plague disappeared as a result. Saint Arnold (also known as St. Arnoldus), is recognized by the Catholic Church as the Patron Saint of Brewers.

St. Arnold was born to a prominent Austrian family in 580 in the Chateau of Lay-Saint-Christophe in the old French diocese of Toul, north of Nancy. He married Doda with whom he had many sons, two of whom were to become famous: Clodulphe, later called Saint Cloud, and Ansegis who married Begga, daughter of Pépin de Landen. Ansegis and Begga are the great-great-grandparents of Charlemagne, and as such, St. Arnold is the oldest known ancestor of the Carolin­gian dynasty.

St. Arnold was acclaimed bishop of Metz, France, in 612 and spent his holy life warning people about the dangers of drinking water. Beer was safe, and “from man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world,” he would say. The people revered St. Arnold. In 627, St. Arnold retired to a monastery near Remiremont, France, where he died on August 16, 640.

In 641, the citizens of Metz requested that Saint Arnold’s body be exhumed and ceremoniously carried to Metz for reburial in their Church of the Holy Apostles. During this voyage a miracle happened in the town of Champignuelles. The tired porters and followers stopped for a rest and walked into a tavern for a drink of their favorite beverage. Regretfully, there was only one mug of beer to be shared, but that mug never ran dry and all of the thirsty pilgrims were satisfied.

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A modern portrait of St. Arnulf by American artist Donna Haupt.

From Sewer To Brewer: Making Beer From Urine

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If that headline surprised you, it really shouldn’t have. But like the beer made from John’s beard, or the chicha Dogfish Head made using human spit, it just sounds unappetizing. Until you remember that it’s all sterilized and boiled so the finished product is as sanitary as any other beer.

So when I saw the headline from Reuters, “Belgian scientists make novel water-from-urine machine,” and another, First We Feast, “Scientists Have Finally Discovered a Way to Turn Human Urine Into Beer,” my first thought was “sure, why not.” The story, it turns out, is about a team of researchers at Ghent University who have invented a “machine that turns urine into drinkable water and fertilizer using solar energy, a technique which could be applied in rural areas and developing countries.” The explanation of how it works, from Reuters:

While there are other options for treating waste water, the system applied at the University of Ghent uses a special membrane, is said to be energy-efficient and to be applicable in areas off the electricity grid.

“We’re able to recover fertilizer and drinking water from urine using just a simple process and solar energy,” said University of Ghent researcher Sebastiaan Derese.

The urine is collected in a big tank, heated in a solar-powered boiler before passing through the membrane where the water is recovered and nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus are separated.

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First We Feast added:

The scientists recently put their invention to the test during a 10-day festival in Ghent. Using the hashtag #PeeForScience, the team encouraged festival-goers to stop by their stand and donate to the cause by relieving themselves. The researchers ended up collecting a whopping 1,000 liters of pee from everyone who participated.

The team believe its machine will have its biggest impact in rural areas, wherever water is scarce and throughout the third world. But apparently as in other projects the Ghent team was involved in, they’ll use some of the water collected to make beer. Program director Derese called this part of the plan “from sewer to brewer.”

There’s many old jokes about American beer being horse piss, so maybe now it really can be. If it reduces costs even a little, you know the megabrewers would be willing to give it a try.

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Beer Birthday: Hildegard Van Ostaden

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Today is the 41st birthday of Hildegard Van Ostaden, brewmaster at Urthel, one of only a handful of female brewers working in Belgium. Inspired by a trip to Alaska’s barleywine festival, she also brewed the first American-style Imperial IPA in Belgium. Her beers are all great, and I love the illustrations on the labels that her husband Bas does. Join me in wishing Hildegard a very happy birthday.

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Hildegard with Brian Hunt of Moonlight Brewing at the Beer Chef’s Urthel dinner.

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Outside the Falling Rock, fellow GABF judges Carl Kins, from the EBCU (on left), and Hildegard (on right) along with her husband Bas (in the middle) during GABF in 2007.

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Bas van Ostaden, Bruce Paton and Hildegard after their dinner in 2007.

Beer Birthday: Jean Moeder

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Today is the 39th birthday of Jean Moeder, founder of the Moeder Lambic bar in Brussels, Belgium. I first met Jean at his bar a few years back and have run into him since a couple of times. He’s very passionate about beer, and his place (both of them now) are amazing. Join me wishing Jean a very happy birthday.

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Jean and good friend Jean Van Roy, from Cantillon, at Brasserie de la Senne earlier this month.

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In front of Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia: Pierre Tilquin, Jean, Jean Van Roy and owner Tom Peters, in 2012.

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But this is by far my favorite, again with Jean and Jean Van Roy, this time from 2014.

[Note: all photos purloined from Facebook.]

Historic Beer Birthday: Prosper Cocquyt

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Today is the birthday of Prosper Cocquyt (June 9, 1900-October 22, 1954). He was born in Astène, Belgium, near Ghent, and is primarily famous for being an aviator.

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Prosper Cocquyt was called “the uncrowned king of the airline pilots.” Shortly after learning to fly, in his early twenties, joined Sabena World Airlines in its inception, and opened several routes for them, including to the Belgian Congo. He flew for them for over 25 years, and was even “the favorite pilot of the Belgian royal family and the personal pilot of the kings, Albert I and Leopold III.” Flying Zone has a lengthy biography of Cocquyt, and so does another website.

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He was married to Elza Timmermans, and they had two children, a boy and a girl. It’s possible she was part of the Timmermans brewing family, but I’m not sure. But there’s another reason he’s included here.

When World War I broke out, Cocquyt was only fourteen, and he had to abandon going to school and find work. He was hired by a brewery run by a friend of his father as a mechanic. He distinguished himself by his knowledge of mechanics, and so impressed his boss, at sixteen, he was named chief mechanic, and even received a degree in mechanic engineering and electrical engineering at 21, before abandoning working in brewing to begin his career as a pilot. As far as I could tell, he never looked back.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Louis Hennepin

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Today is the birthday of Louis Hennepin (May 12, 1626-c. 1705). Hennepin “was a Roman Catholic priest and missionary of the Franciscan Recollet order (French: Récollets) and an explorer of the interior of North America.” His names was used for a Farmhouse Saison brewed by Brewery Ommegang known as Ommegang Hennepin.

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Here’s his biography from Wikipedia:

Antoine Hennepin was born in Ath in the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Hainaut, Belgium). In 1659, Béthune, the town where he lived, was captured by the army of Louis XIV of France. Henri Joulet, who accompanied Hennepin and wrote his own journal of their travels, called Hennepin a Fleming (i.e. a native of Flanders).

At the request of Louis XIV the Récollets sent four missionaries to New France in May 1675, including Hennepin, accompanied by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. In 1678, Hennepin was ordered by his provincial superior to accompany La Salle on an expedition to explore the western part of New France. Hennepin was 39 when he departed in 1679 with La Salle from Quebec City to construct the 45-ton barque Le Griffon, sail through the Great Lakes, and explore the unknown West.

Hennepin was with La Salle at the construction of Fort Crevecouer (near present-day Peoria, Illinois) in January 1680. In February, La Salle sent Hennepin and two others as an advance party to search for the Mississippi River. The party followed the Illinois River to its junction with the Mississippi. Shortly thereafter, Hennepin was captured by a Sioux war party and carried off for a time into what is now the state of Minnesota.

In September 1680, thanks to Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Du Lhut, Hennepin and the others were given canoes and allowed to leave, eventually returning to Quebec. Hennepin returned to France and was never allowed by his order to return to North America. Local historians credit the Franciscan Récollect friar as the first European to step ashore at the site of present-day Hannibal, Missouri.

Two great waterfalls were brought to the world’s attention by Hennepin: Niagara Falls, with the most voluminous flow of any in North America, and the Saint Anthony Falls in what is now Minneapolis, the only waterfall on the Mississippi River. In 1683, he published a book about Niagara Falls called A New Discovery. The Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton created a mural, “Father Hennepin at Niagara Falls” for the New York Power Authority at Lewiston, New York.

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The Thomas Hart Benton mural “Father Hennepin at Niagara Falls”

Because of explorations with La Salle throughout the Great Lakes region, there are geographic places named for Hennepin in Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ontario Canada, but especially Minnesota, where he’s considered the unofficial godfather of the state. For example, here’s a more thorough entry on Hennepin from the Minnesota Encyclopedia:

Father Louis Hennepin, a Recollect friar, is best known as an early explorer of Minnesota. He gained fame in the seventeenth century with the publication of his dramatic stories of the exploration of the Mississippi River. Father Hennepin spent only a few months in Minnesota, but his influence is undeniable. While his widely read travel accounts were more fiction than fact, they allowed Hennepin to leave a lasting mark on the state.

Louis Hennepin was likely born in 1640, although some sources suggest it was as early as 1626. The son of a wealthy banker, he was baptized in the small town of Ath in what is now Belgium on April 7, 1640. Hennepin joined the Recollect Friars at a monastery in Béthune, France, and was ordained a priest in 1666. A few years later, Hennepin asked his superiors for permission to join the Recollect missionaries in North America. In 1675, he sailed to Quebec.

The Recollects were a French branch of the Franciscan order. They were active throughout France’s territory in North America. Hennepin spent his first three years as a missionary in the area of the eastern St. Lawrence River, ministering to voyageurs, colonists, and American Indian communities. In 1678, Hennepin was chosen to accompany René-Robert Cavelier Sieur de la Salle on his exploration of the Mississippi. In 1680, while on La Salle’s expedition, Hennepin and two other members of the party, Michel Accault and Antoine Auguelle (Picard du Gay), were sent to explore the section of the Mississippi north of the Illinois River.

The three men set out early in March 1680, progressing north while avoiding ice that remained on the river. They had just reached Lake Pepin on April 11 or 12 when they encountered a Dakota war party. The Dakota took the three men captive and transported them to a village near Lake Mille Lacs. Hennepin, Accault, and Auguelle lived in the Dakota village until late June or early July of 1680.

At midsummer, Hennepin and Auguelle received permission from the Dakota to canoe down the Mississippi to the mouth of the Wisconsin River. There they planned to collect supplies that the La Salle expedition had left for them. During this trip Hennepin and Auguelle first encountered the waterfall on the Mississippi that Hennepin named in honor of his patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua.

During his own expedition, Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, heard rumors that the three men were being held captive. On July 25, 1680, Greysolon arrived at the Dakota village to negotiate the release of Hennepin, Accault, and Auguelle. By August, the three captives had begun their journey back to French forts in the east. Hennepin left Canada in the fall of 1681 and returned to France.

Once in France, Hennepin embarked upon the literary career that would bring him both fame and criticism. His first book, A Description of Louisiana, newly discovered to the South-West of New France, was published in Paris in 1683. It detailed his travels, his experiences living with the Dakota, and his discovery of St. Anthony Falls. From the start, Hennepin’s work was a blend of myth and fact. In his travel accounts he made waterfalls much higher and wildlife far more dangerous. He depicted the American Indian populations of North America as barbarous savages. An egotistical and vain man, Hennepin portrayed himself as La Salle’s favorite and most trusted confidant.

In his following two books, published in 1697 and 1698, Hennepin exaggerated further. He claimed that he had traveled from Illinois down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico and back before being captured by the Dakota. The details of his improbable canoe trip, covering some three thousand miles in only a month, were taken directly from accounts of La Salle’s own trip down the Mississippi two years after Hennepin’s time in Minnesota. While his books continued to circulate widely, his reputation was significantly damaged.

Little is known about the end of Hennepin’s life. Around 1700 he traveled to Rome to seek funding from Franciscan authorities. Some say that Hennepin died in Rome around 1701, while other sources suggest he returned to Utrecht and died in 1705. Hennepin’s memory lives on in the many parks, landmarks, schools, and streets, including one in his home city in Belgium, named in his honor.

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Painting of Father Louis Hennepin at St. Anthony Falls by Douglas Volk, c. 1905.

Perhaps most amazing, Hennepin is believed to be the first European to see the splendor of Niagara Falls, and at a minimum his journal account of seeing them in 1678 is the earliest known written reference to the famous falls.

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Father Hennepin at Niagara Falls in 1678. Drawing by C.W. Jefferys.

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