Over the years, I’ve sampled rather a lot of different Belgian beers, but I’d never actually been to the country so when an invitation from Heverlee dropped into my inbox inviting me on a trip to discover their heritage I jumped at the chance.
I first tried Heverlee about 5 years ago now at a little pop-up event in Glasgow that they were sponsoring. For a beer that I’d never tried before I remember thinking that it went down quite well. Heverlee are big on street art too and at that very event they had signed up a Belgian artist called Dzia to create a few murals around the space of the pop-up.
I knew little of the Heverlee story, so as I arrived in the Belgian city of Leuven, I was looking forward to finding out how it all began. My tour guide for this Heverlee discovery trip was a quirky Belgian guy called Joris who is also (rather handily), the Heverlee master brewer. He told the story of how he actually grew up in the sprawling grounds of Park Abbey, Heverlee and that an ancient order of monks, the Abbey of the Order of Premontre based at the Abbey used to make beer on the site many years ago.
It all started as at the time the water from the nearby spring wasn’t clean enough to drink so by turning it into beer, they avoided anyone falling ill. It of course had been quite some time since that last batch was brewed by the monks but Joris and his team took inspiration from books in the abbey’s library that told of a light, fresh tasting beer. It was from the descriptions in these ancient books that Heverlee was re-born.
From the home of Heverlee we travelled north to Antwerp, a Belgian city which sits close to the border with Holland with a pretty vibrant street art scene. As I mentioned above Heverlee are pretty big on street art and have enlisted a few big-name Belgian artists over the years to produce the art work for their cans and glasses.
Dzia in particular Dzia produces a lot of nature inspired work and has just come up with the art work for a limited run beer can. We were lucky enough to meet him and watch on as he finished a brand-new mural in the city right before our eyes. It was pretty neat to watch.
I know that I only managed to see a tiny part of it but Belgium was a country that took me by surprise. The people were friendly, the architecture was stunning, the beer was good (obviously) and well, proper Belgian waffles! It reminded me a lot of Holland and I suppose that’s down to the very close proximity.
I’m definitely keen to see a bit more of it and the fact that it’s just short flight from the UK with good connections to most major cities makes it the perfect spot for a weekend break away.
If you’ve yet to try Heverlee and fancy a pint then you can use their handy ‘Find A Pint‘ locator.
This is a partnership post with Heverlee but all words and opinions on the brand are my own.