KOREAN BEER KID
Once a year, brewers and beer enthusiasts around the world gather up in the beautiful city of Amsterdam in Netherlands to attend lectures and tasting events of various breweries as well as people in the industry to embrace the funk. I had the opportunity to attend the Carnivale Brettanomyces last year, and found out how beautiful this "festival" is (I will talk about about why I put parenthesis there).
Unlike other beer festivals, which just consists of various volunteers pouring two ounces of beer to taste, the Carnivale consists of numerous lectures and different tasting events hosted by the head brewers so people get to ask any questions they may have directly with people from the brewery. This year was biggest yet, and has been such a rollercoaster ride.
Carnivale Brettanomyces started with the home brewers and a few other breweries meeting up at the Oedipus Brewing in Amsterdam-Noord. The kick-off party is always so fun, this year it consists of several home brewers including, but not limited to, Wild & Cultured from Edinburgh, Scotland, 'T Pomphuizeke in Ghent, Belgium and many others. There were also some other breweries including Schneeeule and Bruarei Kemker from Germany as well as Black Project from Denver, CO, USA.
One of the highlights were definitely Wild and Cultured from Scotland as well as the Baltic Bay Brewing, who consistently bless the funk-ers with Russian cold Rhubarb-Kvass soup which had potatoes, radish, dill, cucumber and sausages topped with mustard and sour cream. I am not lying when I say I waited a year to eat this delicious funky soup again.
This kick-off party also helps the brewers and enthusiasts who arrived to Amsterdam the day before or the day of some chances to link up with some friends they have not seen in a while, and sets up a ground for many people to meet others in the industry. For me, I went as a beer enthusiast this year, but I spent most of my time talking to my friends who I have not seen since the last Carnivale. Not to mention, to drink some really good beer and prepare yourself for the week of funkiness.
I'm gonna talk about some of the events I participated or visited this year. First one I would like to talk about is the one and only Antidoot Wilde Fermenten, who are two brothers making amazing wild beer, natural wine and wild cider consisting of harvests from their farm. I'm still drooling about some of their stuff. Not only they are very passionate about what they brew, they are also passionate about different harvests and how even each small grapes can affect the final result. Their love and passion for Brettanomyces truly inspire me and their humbleness warms me. They started the tasting session with their peach wild beer, then moved on to natural wine, cider, Kriek beer, and framboos beer. They were absolutely fantastic, if not one of the best beers I had the chance to have at the Carnivale Brettanomyces. Also a huge shout out to Altbrau not only helping the brothers but also bringing in fantastic beers for me to try at the opening party.
Second event I am going to talk about is Geuze 101% Tasing Event by Raf from Bokkereyder. As many of you would know, Bokkereyder is renowned home blendery and they make some amazing lambic blend. This event particularly was very intersting because not only you get to hear about their blending process but you also have chance to blend four different lambic and make your own blend. I absolutely loved this event because I know many people do not have the opportunities to have young lambic from different breweries and learn more about blending your own beer. I called my blend "Cuveé de KBK" and it was so much fun,
The 101% tasting also opens your eyes towards how the aging process can totally change the beer that you blended. However, my favorite part of the event is that it is in such a chill environment, and you can ask as many questions as possible to Raf. Some of the questions that was asked during my session were distinguishing the differences and preferences of small barrels over big barrels, and went further on to discuss how each lambic affects the final result. This tasting is one of the most innovative tastings I have ever been to and I learned more about blending, which very much interests me.
Another tasting I am going to mention is the Meet and Talk with Tommie Sjef Wild Ale. Tommie is located in the northern part of Netherlands near Texel called Den Helder. I had the opportunity to visit the barrel house a few months ago and had developed friendship with Tommie. You can read my post here. At Tommie Sjef tasting, we also had the opportunities not just to try several of his beers, but also to learn more about his idea and knowledge behind blending. We tasted several beers straight from the barrels such as unblended base beer, Groen, Druif-Burgundy and more. Just like other tasting events from Carnivale Brettanomyces, attendees had the opportunities to ask questions directly to Tommie, and opened up the conversations to other people, who may have already prepared some questions even before the events that they had not opportunities to ask before. Meeting these brewers in person not only help the attendees but also help the brewers to understand how the customers view and value their beer and what can be improved in their beer as well.
As much as I love going to different tasting events and lectures, my all time favorite reasons to go to Carnivale Brettanomyces is the dinner collaboration with brewers and the one and only Wilde Chutney. If you don't already know about Elaine Olsthoorn, she is the mastermind behind these amazing dinners, and I personally call her either fermentation goddess or fermentation mom. I am drooling just thinking about her amazing dinner and how each pairing was just perfect. They work for months prior to the Carnivale to provide the best pairing and best quality ingredients to the attendees.
I attended two different dinners during the Carnivale. The first dinner I went to was in collaboration with Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen in Beersel, Belgium. From the Cuveé Armand & Gaston Honing to the new Framboos 2018 that was recently bottled, and to the Oude Geuze Vintage 2014, which is possibly one of my favorite beer, the pairing were just fantastic. Starting with three different types of fermented honey: pine, coffee, and cacao nibs to portray deconstructed Faro, to the fantastic funky cheese plate, each beer complimented the food it was served with, and each food complimented the beer it was served with. You can read more about it HERE.
The second dinner I attended was in collaboration with Tommie Sjef Wile Ales and Nevel Artisan Ales. In order to properly portray the beauty of beer from two different breweries, Elaine worked very hard to provide 11-course dinner. ELEVEN COURSES. AND THEY WERE ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. There were several variations to the first dinner I went to, and this dinner was just outstanding. Tommie Sjef brings out the nice bit of acidity and fruitiness of the dishes, and Nevel brought out the funkiness of each dish. One of my favorites from this second dinner would be the tomato dish that consisted of quickly blenched tomato with its inners taken out and made into sauce, and put it back inside of the tomato served with very young fermented turnip. Another favorite was the potato salad that was served with capers, sunflower seeds and leek flowers. These leek flowers blew my mind: it tasted like the combination of garlic and spring onion and provided such a bright spiciness to the dish. Absolutely beautiful. You can read more about it HERE.
Each dish came with little story from Elaine. The most interesting one would be her seaweed sorbet, which she improves and tweaks every year. Compared to her seaweed sorbet last year which I also had the opportunity to taste, this year's sorbet was absolutely amazing. Using Japanese Seaweed, Wakame, this sorbet tasted just like a frozen version of Japanese seaweed salad that you can get at sushi restaurants. Absolutely delicious and made me super happy, not to mention the sweetness and the coldness helped to cleanse palettes before the next course was served. This festival is definitely one to remember and one to always come back to. As Richard Preiss from Escarpment Laboratories in Ontario, Canada specializing in the research of yeast mentioned, "Carnivale Brettanomyces is like a funk-nerdy summer camp!" and I could not agree more. This fantastic "festival" which consists of lectures, tasting events and amazing dinners definitely has a special place in my heart and attracts me to come back to the beautiful city of Amsterdam every year.
More information on Carnivale Brettanomyces:
Carnivale Brettanomyces usually happens on the last week or the one before in June in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. It is spread out over several different bars all over the city including Oedipus Brewing, De Bierkoning, Arendsnes, Foeders, Beertemple, Walhall and many more. Definitely one of the best festivals in the world for Brettanomyces lovers.
You can check out their Facebook page and website for more information about each venue and possible dates for the next Carnivale.
Hope to see you all there.