5 Sep 2017

Revisiting Belgium with Heverlee | Connecting Street Art + Craft Beer


Renovation progress at Park Abbey, Leuven

As soon as I arrived home after my previous trip to Belgium, back in October 2016, I knew that I wanted to return some day. A plane journey from Brussels to Manchester takes exactly the same time as it does to drive from Blackpool to Manchester...one hour. In just one hour and I can be transported into the heart of a country that feels fairly removed from everyday British culture, yet strangely familiar at the same time.

It was my second time visiting Belgium a country that prides itself of world class beer, first-rate cycling credentials, fine-cut diamonds and 5-star chocolate and my second visit with Heverlee Brewery. It may seem like a strange choice to hop on what effectively was a very similar trip to my previous, but the strong draw of the county's beer culture + grassroots work that Heverlee has done in this short space of time was enough to want to punch in some extra air miles.

The instantly recognisable work of Belgian street artist Dzia
 A morning of getting to know Antwerp's street art scene

A whole lot has changed for me in those 10 months; buying our first house + getting married being two huge milestones in our lives. Our responsibilities have shifted, business plans have been tweaked and relationships have grown stronger. And similar seems to have been mirrored within Heverlee's growing community + progressive thinking.

For those of you who aren't too familiar with "Heverlee", let's get up to speed. Heverlee Lager was originally produced by the monks of Park Abbey in Leuven, with its first inception in those heady days of 1129. The brewery was later demolished when commercial brewing became tenfold, as it was deemed too expensive to produce in small batches. Leap forward into modern times, local beer expert and entrepreneur Joris Brams recently made it his mission to unearth as much as the original recipe as possible, with the aim recreate the distinct flavour of their Belgian Pils Lager.

With the street art scene in Belgium being so prevalent right now, it makes sense for there to be a crossover of cultures. Belgian beer + street art are best buddies. After our tour at Antwerp we were treated to lunch at Junkyard, accompanied by street artist Dzia, who Heverlee have been collaborating with to create a new range of glassware. It was fascinating to hear about Dzia's original design inspiration behind his lion and how he adapted to be suitable for a different media altogether.

Wearing - Norse Projects T-Shirt | Folk x MR PORTER Trousers | Paul Smith Sneakers | Filson Cap

After an evening of amazing food + drink with Heverlee we hit the city of Brussels the next day with fresh eyes. Eager to explore, the group which included Jordan Bunker and photographers Christopher Byrne + Jin set out on their own way to seek out pockets of the city that they didn't know existed. 

Myself + Jordan opted to find a tour guide, someone who would know the good spots to visit. We reached out to "Tibods" via Instagram. We slowly sipped our black coffee, chatted about the IG community and watched the Sunday play out in front of our eye. Nothing much happens on a Sunday in Belgium, but we were fully content with savouring our time and enjoying the moment.



We return back to the UK with are own little part of Belgian a keepsake to be used over and over. Along with a suitcase jam-packed with with beer paraphernalia (I should have left more space for Tintin stuff, but opted for those unmissable 9%ers...) we came home with our very own piece of Dzia x Heverlee's glassware.

Not only will every sip instantly evoke memories of my three days exploring Belgium, it will reinstall the notion that modern day beer culture really isn't about cheap pints, sticky pub carpets + tacky slot machines; it's about experimentation, building communities and striving for something just a little bit more exceptional than the norm.

Have you ever been to Belgium? I'd love to hear about your experience. You can see what else Heverlee are up to in their community on Instagram + Twitter.

This post is brought to you in partnership with Heverlee. Thank you for taking the time to support the brands + businesses that make this blog happen.

1 comment:

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