I had no idea I would have so much fun at the Independent Bar's Cheers to Belgian Beers! event Tuesday night, where distributors and brewery representatives handed out samples of Belgian beers for $1.50 a pop.
Brewers may have the sexiest job, but distributors and brewery reps need some love, too. After Tuesday night's event, I have a real appreciation for them.
As the sun set behind the Independent's converted garage on Florida Avenue, the reps lined up their Belgian beers, which included many Trappist offerings. That means monks are making them, as they have for centuries. And it usually means they're good.
A few beers being served up Tuesday are brand new to the United States, including a particular offering from Brewery Wolf, which I was told made its U.S. debut at the Independent.
If the manic response to the Westvleteren 12's release in December has taught us anything, it's that American craft beer fans love hard-to-get stuff. I think the rarity factor made this Wolf beer's dark nutty/pear aromas seem that much better.
My friends and I also enjoyed tasting beers from La Trappe's line of Trappist beers, as well as totally unique offerings from Troubadour Brewing, which makes hoppy Belgians — a strange and delicious approach for a European brewery. My favorite was their Obscura, a mix between a Belgian beer and a stout.
While all of these beers were delicious, the best part was talking to the Brewery reps and distributors themselves. A few were from Belgium, including the Troubadour guy, Stephaan, who is an engineer at the brewery in Antwerp. And because a lot of these beers have high alcohol-content, it was fun to sip slowly while talking to the workers about beer, Europe and travel.