I got a hint about a Finnish beer festivity in Brussels. As a Finn, I felt obliged to attend to this event since Finland is absolutely not famous for its beers. Or anything else food related, which is a pity. We have a perfectly fine cuisine!
It has been a while since the last time I visited the Brussels center, so I think it was OK to go a bit touristic. In the evening time Brussels to me has somehow Christmassy feel to it. It has something to do with the lights of the city.
A street artist playing on the street, here, and another one there. And of course all the chocolate shops, with warm lights and doors open, tourists buzzing about them, hidden in the street levels of houses decorated with golden statues and complicated carvings.
We decided to go a bit stupid and bought Liege waffles with a heap of crème fraîche, speculoos crumbles and cream on top. I could hear some fatty body parts yelling out of happiness!
After munching on waffles we thought it was a high time to find some of the Finnish beer, lurking somewhere in the heart of Brussels. So we walked to the Grand-Place, took one of the narrow lanes leading into the old quarters of Brussels and entered into a small pub, full of buzz.
This whole event was put together by a group of Finns, who moved to Brussels, Belgium to brew beer, under the name of Monkey Monk. We met these guys by accident in Leuven beer festival this spring. I think there were a total of 4 Finnish people around, so of course we started chatting. It was a pleasant surprise to notice them organizing a festival with a Finnish theme!
In Brussels they were offering their own produce, a couple of nicely hoppy numbers of pale ale and a cavalcade of beers from Finnish micro breweries. Yummy! I noticed to be a fan of darker, little bit smoky beers this time. A brewery called Lammin Sahti had celebrated it’s 30 years of existence by giving birth to a Kotka beer, making it dark, soft and smoky. Me likey.
The nature of Finnish beer can be a surprise to someone who is more used to, say, Belgian beers. The balance is on different things. Finnish breweries clearly like to bring out the northern wilderness in their beverages. They use juniper and spruce sprouts and smoked malts.
Of course a beer festival is not all about beer. It is about the beer makers and beer drinkers. My absolute favorite type of people are those, who do what they love to do. You get endless amount of stories out of them, and the happiness and serenity that comes out of them is something truly great. In this event those people were standing behind the bar.
The other group of people, the ones dipping their noses deep into their classes, they were on the other side of the bar, scattered around a small room. There were Finnish people searching something homely and familiar from Finland. And then all the other nationalities, people who had found something new and exotic. Clearly some of the tastes from the glasses were very new to many of them. I even found a hint of rye bread out of one beer!
That was a pleasant evening, we ended up spending several hours in that little pub. Talking with fellow Finns and sharing thoughts on beer, Belgium and life in general. As a result, we now have to go to Wales and try out 12 bottles of tasty beer at home. Sunday well spent!