City guide

250 brews will fill the Belgian Beer Festival at Bálna Budapest

Photo : Norbert Juhász/We Love Budapest
250 brews will fill the Belgian Beer Festival at Bálna Budapest

Beer lovers in Budapest await the Belgian Beer Festival each year like kids anticipate Christmas. This metaphor might seem less strange if we say that during three days, the festival brings together 45 beer breweries presenting 250 types of intoxicating suds that guests can sip on – for instance, with a Be(er)hero ticket including 15 glasses of palatable potables, or with a beer-tasting ticket that provides visitors with a smaller glass for tasting tipples. In 2017, a total of 24 new breweries join the festival, but we also find some all-time favorites that we already tested and now recommend.

8th Belgian Beer Festival
It doesn’t matter if you are a dedicated or casual beer lover, because the Belgian Beer Festival is worth a visit either way. It is a must for beer enthusiasts, as 250 types of tasty tipples are presented here during May 19-21, but the terrace and its picturesque panorama entice everyone to this festival, where all visitors can find something to their liking. By the way, here it is definitely not embarrassing to ask for a fruity flavor. This hop-scented gathering is held for the 8th time in 2017, assembling and presenting the best Belgian beers, including IPAs, wheat beers, locally made libations, bottled beers, suds on tap, and the products of both small- and large-scale breweries.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
250 is undoubtedly a large number, but don’t panic, you can use a cheat sheet to keep track of what you’ve sipped (or gulped). On one hand, it is worthwhile to visit the festival’s website (which is unfortunately in Hungarian only), where detailed descriptions are provided about the various beer types, and on the other hand, we can also find guidelines in the “Belga Sörkalauz” (Belgian Beer Guide) available both online and at the festival. The beers at the festival will be distinguished by their flavors; different colors indicate sweet, bitter, fruity, and sour flavors.
Photo: Norbert Juhász/We Love Budapest
We found ourselves in a truly fortunate position when the beer expert of Belgaco Kft., György Salamon, gave us hints about what we really shouldn’t miss out on at the festival. Based on Gyuri’s recommendations, we even tried a few flavorful drinks from the assortment that all comes in pretty bottles. We truly loved this experience, because we learned from Gyuri that “raspberry is the new cherry” – eight raspberry beers will be available at the festival – and also because after trying a few drinks, we truly realized that this beer selection is truly colorful and sometimes surprising. We wholeheartedly recommend the Framboise Boon lambic beer that contains 25% of raspberry, and is matured for five years before bottling. We were told this by our beer expert, but we could truly taste the slight raspberry flavor in this refreshing and tasty tipple.
Photo: Norbert Juhász/We Love Budapest
The selection also holds several intriguing items, like Kasteel’s chocolate- and coffee-flavored Barista Chocolate Quad which really must be smelled before you take a sip. This was also featured at the festival last year in a bottle, but by popular demand, this year it will also be available on tap. Another interesting libation on the list of our beer expert was the extreme flavor combination of an even more extreme beer brewer: Prearis Smokey Li smoked-tea beer is recommended for those who have a thirst for something new.
Beside the Framboise Boon, our favorite was the Lefebvre Barbár beer, which is a limited specialty made for the brewery’s 140th anniversary. It contains honey and coriander, and promises to be a truly exciting flavor combination. Furthermore, the festival presents one of the strongest Belgian beers, the Busch (12%), and the exclusive brand of the Belga Sörök Háza, Gallica. See the full list of libations here (in Hungarian).
Photo: Norbert Juhász/We Love Budapest
The stands will be set up in the grand hall on the first floor of Bálna Budapest, as well as on the terrace adjacent to the Nehru Shore, awaiting beer lovers beginning at 5pm on Friday. Afterwards, they do not really close until 10pm on Sunday, as guests are welcome to come during noon-11pm on Saturday, and from noon to 10pm on Sunday. This year, there will be two types of festival glasses available: one is a 2 dl glass, while the other is a small 1 dl cup for those who would only like to taste. The entry tickets come with these glasses and tokens (which can also be purchased on the premises of the festival later on, for 650 forints each). The various types of tickets come with different amounts of tokens, but bear in mind that certain tickets can only be purchased in advance and not on the spot. You can find more details about this here and here.
Photo: Belgian Beer Festival