Twenty Belgian beers won prizes at this year’s European Beer Star Awards, an international beer competition held in Germany at the beginning of November.
2,395 beers from 44 countries were judged for the prestigious awards with Germany and Belgium featuring most prominently among the prize winners. Four Belgian breweries won two prizes each: AB InBev (Leuven), Huyghe (Melle), Atrium (Marche-en-Famenne) and Boon (Halle).
“I am very proud to win those two medals,” Alain De Laet of Huyghe told The Brussels Times.
Their Sint-Idesbald blonde earned a silver medal in the blonde Belgian-style category. Their iconic Delerium Tremens with its renowned pink elephant on the label won a gold medal.
“We have participated in different competitions throughout the years and have won medals several times, but these ones are the most important in our collection. It’s the highest-rated competition in Europe, so we are very, very proud to win against all those other breweries.”
The European Beer Star has long been one of the most important beer competitions in the world, honoring beers that are “unadulterated, full of character and of high quality.” Most of the awards are aimed at brewing styles with European origins.
Still, the brewmasters of Huyghe don’t intend to rest on their laurels. “This doesn’t mean we have the best beer in the world,” De Laet explained. “It’s a guarantee of high quality, and confirmation for all my brew masters that we’re doing well. They deserve the congratulations for a beautiful result. They did a great job.”
While Huyghe currently exports to 104 countries, De Laet says they’ve got even bigger ambitions.
“We’re still a family-owned company and we’ll always be one, but I have a dream that one day we will be recognized worldwide as the top brewers of Europe.”
Another winner was Boon, a brewer of Oude Geuze beers, which won a gold medal for its Mariage Parfait and a silver medal for its Framboise Boon.
“We’re quite happy – we sent in two beers and both won a prize,” Karel Boon told The Brussels Times. “[Mariage Parfait] is our core beer, so winning a gold medal with that is fantastic.”
The brasserie was also thrilled to take home a silver in the fruit beer category – one of the most competitive categories.
“It’s a bit cliché to say, perhaps, but in our brewery we always focus on the quality of the beer,” Boon said. “Every investment, all our research, each step in the brewing process and the smallest of details, it’s all in pursuit of quality.”
Boon sees the benefit of this uncompromising attitude in the awards their beers have earned, including regular wins in the World Beer Cup.
“There are no technical mistakes, and in a competition judges will always taste first if there’s a technical mistake – something that tastes out of place within the style. Then it needs to be full flavoured, nuanced and interestingly flavoured. Apparently we achieved that: that’s what we’re aiming for.”
This was Boon’s first time participating in the European Beer Star Awards, which he says “is perhaps the most interesting competition and the best in terms of the quality of judges.”
Another double-winner was Atrium, a micro-brewery from the Luxembourg province, which won a bronze medal for its The One and a gold medal for its imperial stout Onyx.
AB InBev, which is also the world’s largest brewer, saw its subsidiary Bosteels’ Tripel Karmeliet win the strong blonde category, and their Hoegaarden Grand Cru came in second in the Belgian-style tripels.
Other great classics from the Belgian brewing world were also awarded, such as Palm with a bronze medal and Rodenbach (Vintage) with a prize for best sour beer in cask.
The other award-winning Belgian beers were produced by the breweries De Halve Maan (Bruges), Het Anker (Mechelen), Wilderen (Limburg), Caulier (Hainaut), Alken-Maes, Malheur (Buggenhout), Vander Ghinste (East Flanders), Roman (Oudenaarde) and by Viva Brews and Kompel.
A Dutch trappist brewery, Bierbrouwerij de Koningshoeven, took home three awards in the categories Belgian-Style Blond Ale, Belgian-Style Dubbel, and Belgian-Style Tripel.
Despite the name, all breweries around the world can participate in the European Beer Star Awards, no matter their size or country.