If you haven't read about their adventures from last year, you're missing out on an enjoyable and descriptive recap of the trip. Their two posts are here and here. These are some of my favorite excerpts from their trip:
Vapeur, which means steam in French, is the only remaining steam- powered brewhouse in the world. All the pumps, mash-tun rakes...everything mechanical in the brewhouse is run off of a single steam engine. A system of pulleys, belts, freewheels, clutches, and brakes emanate from this engine. Not necessarily a model of efficiency in this day and age, it takes Jean Louis a full day to prepare a brew and a full day to clean up. For this reason they brew but once a month, but fortunate for the public at large, it is an open brew for all to come and witness on the final Saturday of each month. In this regard Brasserie Vapeur is a living museum.
We had a bit of an old west saloon moment when we walked through the doors of the dusty and dark De Kelk. The twelve or so patrons, all locals I would presume, turned in unison upon our entrance as if to say, "who are you?" That all changed quickly when we asked the bartender for a beer list and asked for recommendations. A bit uninviting at first glance, De Kelk was one of those places that you just needed to trust in and in return it would trust in you. I guess that's ultimately what you have to do whenever youare a stranger in a strange land.
The passion of Kris Harteleer, De Dolle began in 1980 after he and his brother entered a brewing competition normally reserved for commercial beers. They won the competition and soon thereafter their mother financed the purchase of the 19th century brewhouse they continue to brew on to this day. Kris' mom was our tour guide on our visit and she will go down as one of the most passionate tour guides I have ever encountered. She spoke, in English, at great length of the healthful benefits of beer. There was an impassioned speech about the "power of the seed." That all life comes from seeds and beer is brewed from seeds. So much nutritional power is packed into seeds and beer harnesses that nutrition. She would back up her assertions with anecdotes of doctors that had visited the brewery over the years and confirmed her beliefs in the "power of the seed".