Belgium Comes to Michigan- Ashley’s Van Eecke Dinner

As I mentioned in my last post, I was serving as amateur photographer for the largest Belgian Beer Festival in the Midwest at my favorite resturant, Ashley’s of Westland. The event Friday night, February 17th, was an authentic Belgian dinner, with special host, Danny Dieussaert, Export Manager for the festival’s featured brewery, the Van Eecke Brewery of Watou, Belgium.

Our meal started with potato & endive soup, country terrine, Belgian cheeses, and cocktail shrimp in dill & sour cream, served in an endive boat. This was paired with the black hommel beer, a deeply hoppy beer brewed with three different kinds of malts.

Next came the salad- haricots verts, with goat cheese and warm dijon vinagrette, which was delicious. The second beer was Kapittel Blonde, one of Van Eecke’s most popular beers, which was also one of the sweetest I had that night.

Our seafood entree’ was Salmon, served with Poperings Dark Hommelbier, which had debuted in the United States the previous night at Ashley’s. The meat entree was herb crusted lamb chops, which was served with a lentels, and Kapittal Prior, Van Eecke’s tasty trippel, infused with all the hoppy goodness beer drinkers have come to expect from Van Eecke’s beers. 

 Desert was Creme Brulee, served with Kapittal Abt, a quad, high in alcohol (10%) and similar in taste and quality to the Trappist Beers we had enjoyed at the Trappist Beer Dinner to open the festival. 

Exceptional food and great beer were highlights of the evening, as were Danny’s stories about beer making and the business of exporting beers from Belgium. One of Danny’s best stories involved difficulty Van Eecke had initially in exporting their Kapittal line to the United States.

 Van Eecke was initially denied the right to export into the United States based on the packaging of the Kapittal line. What on earth could they have found offensive about the design shown above?

Now, look closer at the monks. Does the second one from the left look familiar? The US government’s argument was that they weren’t going to allow any beer using President Obama’s likeness on it into the country. They argument was resolved when Van Eecke proved they had been using this design long before 2008, when President Obama won his first term. This story got a good laugh from the guests at the dinner.

The assembled group also heard from endlessly interesting Steve Vallani, the president of Global Beer Networks, Van Eecke’s importer in this country, and an importer of many other boutique Belgian beers, who spoke with passion about bringing quality Belgian beers into the United States. 

The guests at the dinner were a nice mixtures of people inside the beer industry, as well as the general public, all there because of their love for good food, but especially, good beer.

It was an especially proud evening for Jeff & Roy More, Ashley’s owners, who had spent a year tirelessly working to make Belgian Beer Week a singular event. Friday’s dinner was the last of the two main dinners, but the festival had two more days left, and I would come return on Saturday for another day of the festival, a day of games and networking I will cover in my next post about the week. 

2 Responses to “Belgium Comes to Michigan- Ashley’s Van Eecke Dinner”

  1. Roy says:

     Ah… but at Ashley's Westland we've got Bell's doing an 18 tap take over including Black Note and others. What a way to get back into the swing of things.

  2. Kris Koeller says:

    I took the month of February off from drinking beer, but this makes me really pine for March 1! (damn leap year)

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