Beer Birthday: Pierre Celis

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A true brewing legend, who was treated like a rock star in Belgium where they care about their national beers, Pierre Celis would have been 89 today. Celis single-handedly revived the style witbier in the 1960s when he was a brewer at Hoegaarden. He later moved to Texas to start a microbrewery with his daughter Christine, which was sold to Miller in 1995. More recently, he was making three cave-aged beers under the label Grottenbier at St. Bernardus in Belgium. Unfortunately, Pierre passed away almost three years ago in April. Pierre was a terrific person and his absence is still deeply felt. As I understand it, his daughter Christine is working on a great-sounding project that will honor her father’s memory and also produce some terrific beers, too. Join me in drinking a toast to the memory of Pierre Celis.

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With Pierre at the Craft Brewers Conference in New Orleans a number of years ago.

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At GABF in 2006.

The New Belgian Flag

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The Association of Belgium Brewers recently launched a campaign to celebrate Belgian beer … in Belgium. The marketing push, called “Fiers de nos bières” or “Proud of our Beers,” is trying to persuade the people of Belgium what beer lovers all over the world already know: that Belgian brewers make great beer that they should be proud of.

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There’s also a website, proudofbelgianbeers.com, and a Facebook page (in Dutch). I’m something of an amateur vexillologist, so by far my favorite part of the campaign is the new Belgian flag that the ad agency DDB Brussels created. Such a simple idea, slightly modifying the existing flag to add some angles and a put a creamy head on the middle of the flag. Genius. You can even buy your own Belgian beer flag for €20.

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Beer Birthday: Wendy Littlefield

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Today is Wendy Littlefield’s 58th birthday. Wendy, along with her husband, runs the Belgian export company Vanberg & DeWulf. Their portfolio includes such great beer lines as Dupont, Castelain and Dubuisson (Bush). They were also the original founders of Brewery Ommegang. Two years ago was 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. Join me in wishing Wendy a very happy birthday.

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Michael Roper, owner of the Hopleaf, Jonathan Surratt, and Wendy, when we had dinner there a couple of years ago.

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At an Avec beer dinner a few years ago.

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Wendy with husband Don Feinberg in Ghent at a beer dinner with Dilewyns last week.

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Don Feinberg, Anne (from New York’s Ginger Man) and Wendy in Belgium.

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Wendy and Don in 1979.

NOTE: Photos purloined from Vanberg & DeWulf’s website and Facebook.

Beer In Film #47: Orval — Beer Force One

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Today’s beer video, is a short love letter to Orval, a beer which I drank quite a lot of over the past week in Belgium, including a few glasses at the brewery cafe. The name of the video comes from the music used, which is taken from the soundtrack to the Harrison Ford movie Air Force One, and was written by Jerry Goldsmith.

Beer In Film #40: Analyzing American & Belgian Beers

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Today’s beer video, in honor of it being Sour Sunday, is a film of a talk given by Jeff Clawson, who’s the Pilot Brewery Manager at Oregon State University’s Food Science & Technology Department. In the 23-minute video, Clawson “discusses a recent study on sour beers at a Science Pub event at the Calapooia Brewery in Albany, Oregon. OSU is one of the world’s leaders in research on hops and the brewing sciences, and many graduates of the fermentation sciences programs go on to have a huge impact in the industry.”

Beer Birthday: Jean Van Roy

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Today is the 46th birthday Jean Van Roy, who took over the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels from his father a few years ago, though he’d been working there all of his life. Considered a working brewery museum, they make some amazing lambics, and the tour is one everyone should take at least once in their life. Down an unassuming alley in Brussels, and not one you’d feel safe meandering along at night, Cantillon has been located there since 1900, when it was founded. I’ve only met Jean a few times, but he seems like a man with beer in his blood, and a passion for what he’s doing, which makes him a kindred spirit as far as I’m concerned. Join me in wishing Jean a very happy birthday.

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Me and Jean at the Great Lambic Summit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology & Anthropology on June 9 during Philly Beer Week in 2010.

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Tom Peters, Frank Boon, Jean, 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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Jean (on right), Yvan De Baets (center, who plans to open Brasserie De La Senne by the end of the year) and I believe Bernard (on left, also from De La Senne) at Deep Ellum in Boston during CBC in 2009.

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Yvan de Baets, Vinnie Cilurzo and Jean at CBC when it was in San Francisco a few years ago.

The Belgian Kings

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Today’s infographic, De Belgische Koningen, is a chart of Belgium’s six kings, although a seventh was crowned earlier this year. I met King Philippe this past June, when he was still just the crown prince and was leading a trade delegation to San Francisco. Plus, today is last full day in Belgium, though so far we’ve had no sign of the king.

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Click here to see the chart full size.

Beer Birthday: Armand Debelder

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Today is the 62nd birthday of Armand Debelder, master blender and owner of Proef 3 Fonteinen — a.k.a. Drie Fonteinen — a lambic brewery and blendery making traditional geuze and kriek in Beersal, Belgium. According to their U.S. importer, Shelton Brothers:

Drie Fonteinen is the only remaining traditional geuze blender in Belgium, using only 100% spontaneously fermented lambik beer, aged in oak casks, with no artificial sweeteners or other additives. The blendery is connected to the very popular Drie Fonteinen Restaurant in Beersel, on the outskirts of Brussels. The proprietor, Armand Debelder, buys pure lambik from three breweries in Belgium, ages them in oak, and blends them, employing the skill, knowledge, and supreme passion for real geuze that his father handed down to him.

I had a chance to meet and talk with Armand a couple of times during Philly Beer Week a few years ago. And, of course, his beer is amazingly good. Join me in wishing Armand a very happy birthday.

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

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