Borefts. The bier festival that beats all beer festivals I’ve attended. It occurs on the last Friday/Saturday in September and this year, 5,300 people attended over the two day period. Located at Brouwerji de Molen in Bodegraven, Netherlands – which is about 30km from Utrecht, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, arriving by train is the most convenient way to reach the festival. Every half hour, a new wave of thirsty people arrived on a quest to find their next favourite beer.
With 19 breweries attending from eight countries and just shy of 200 unique beers being poured, it’s not the largest festival in the world but what makes it distinctive for me are a few things.
First, given that it’s held at de Molen’s brewery in the Netherlands, you get to plan a beer trip. We orchestrated our trip to Belgium to include the Borefts festival and to spend a few days in the Netherlands. Poor us. Upon entry at the festival, we headed over to the merchandise stand to purchase a couple of rare bottles for sale. Let that soak in. Rare. Bottles. At a festival. That was a first for me.
Second, the breweries that attend the festival are fantastic. Given the limited space, I assume not just any brewery can ask to attend Borefts. The representation is diverse with breweries this year from Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, UK, Denmark, Spain and France.
Next, de Molen puts on a show with twenty taps and one-off beers such as the Hel & Verdoemenis Wild Turkey Eisbock – a 20% Imperial Stout that is smooth and so well balanced it’s a good thing you only have a 4 ounce pour. The festival is very well organized and managed and unlike our strict government guidelines, the world didn’t end when people sat outside the brewery with their beer. *gasp*
But it’s not just the great beers that make this a standout for me. The food was outright delicious from the plates of cheese and chutney to the stew in a bread bowl that’s made on-site over coals. Take that, pretzels and hotdogs.
Trying samples of beers that are unique to me makes my taste buds do a little jig and I found many imperial stouts, barley wines, sours and strong ales that landed on my favourites list. The best find for me was a brewery from Sweden, Brekeriet, who brew exclusively with the fermented wild yeast Brettanomyces. The sour beers they make are amazing and I went back multiple times over the two days to try their entire line up. BC importers, you can thank me later for finding this gem (now please bring it to BC). Brekeriet is run by three brothers and they took the time to talk to this fan girl about their beer while I begged them to import to Canada.
If you’re planning a trip to Belgium or frankly, Europe – since the train system is so accessible – work the Borefts bier festival into your plans. It’s definitely on my to-do-again list.