Brussels Beer Project : Leave the abbey, join the playground

If you’re under 30 and living in Brussels, you’ve probably heard of the Brussels Beer project (and if not, that’s what the I Love Belgium team is here for!). Before the summer of 2013, the Brussels Beer Project was just a couple of guys brewing beer in Olivier de Brauwere's basement. Now, three years later, the BBP team has over 16,000 devoted followers on Facebook, collaborate with brewers from all over the world, and have reinvented the way beer can be brewed (we’ll give you a hint: it involves recycled bread).   

Families and abbeys in Belgium have been brewing their secret recipes for hundreds of years and people have been raving about them for just as long. However, what sets Brussels Beer Project apart is exactly the opposite of what has traditionally made Belgian beer so great. Instead of secret recipes, all of their beers have the ingredients stamped on the back of the bottle. Moreover, the ingredients are not the same ones that have been used for the past 500 years but instead tend to be comprised of a balanced 50/50 split of traditional components and experimentation ranging from Tonka beans to Earl Grey. 

Entering their new brewery/bar on Dansaert in Brussels, you are welcomed to the playground, where collaboration, innovation and transparency are the watchwords. Here, the team is always inventing a new limited edition brew, inspired by anything from Halloween to the Disney movie, Aladdin. In fact, within just the last eight months, the team has created 26 new beers. Many of these beers have been collaborations such as the stout beer Salvation, which was created with the British band, Editors (who just so happen to be represented by the Belgian music company we recently wrote a post on, PIAS).  

It is truly a 21st century enterprise. Funded by Kickstarter and the promise of #BeerForLife, meaning crowdfunders who gave 160 euros will receive 12 beers every year for the rest of their lives, the project has grown purely through excellent use of social media and word of mouth. And, no wonder the BBP consumers have a lot to talk about! They play a larger role in the project than being mere customers.

In 2013, BBP brewed four prototypes dubbed Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, then invited the Brussels beer community to taste and chose the best one. In the end, Delta was crowned King and became the first in BBP’s classics which are brewed regularly and distributed by the Project’s partner, Bier Anders. This has become a BBP tradition and just last month over 2,000 people showed up at the historical Halles Saint-Gery to chose the newest classic: the red one with a name yet to be determined. Now the people will vote for one of the names they wrote down as suggestions during the tasting: P’tite Rough, Red My Lips, or Quartier Rouge.   

This ritual has happened every year since the founding of BBP with the exception of 2015. Instead, that March, after learning that about twelve percent of food waste in Brussels is bread, BBP launched their first beer made with recycled bread, Babylone. Now, the Project recycles up to eight tons of bread each month to create new brews and have kindled a new eco-friendly trend in the brewing community. 

Brussels Beer Project is constantly collaborating and sharing to create the best new beers in Belgium ranging from pale ales to Russian Imperial Stouts. There’s no telling what flavors they’ll decide to try out next and we at I Love Belgium cannot wait to discover them. 

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