What is Bellagash?
The word Bellagash is a portmanteau of “Belgium” and “Allagash.” But what is it really? When an Allagash employee hits their five-year work anniversary, they join Rob, our founder, and Jason, our brewmaster, for a week-long trip to Belgium.
This adventure takes the group of employees across Belgium by way of its breweries with plenty of frites, bars, and culture in between. Not only does it reinforce the foundation our brewery was built on, it’s massively fun. Doesn’t hurt that it’s led by possibly two of the best tour guides there are, Rob and Jason. We documented the most recent trip to give you an idea of what we mean when we say Bellagash.
Bellagash 2019 Highlights
Bellagash 2019 kicked off with a revered Belgian brewery and monastery: Orval. Lunch at A’Lange Gardien, the Orval cafe, preceded a tour of the brewery, monastery, and grounds. Orval only makes two beers, the inimitable Orval you’ll find worldwide, and then Petite Orval, a lower-ABV version that you’ll only find at the brewery. Following that was a brewery tour and tasting at St. Feuillien then another tour and tasting at De Ranke—seeing a pattern? The first evenings were spent at a bed and breakfast called La Vieille Forge just outside of Achouffe. Of course the owner/host/brewer of La Vieille Forge brews a delicious witbier and leads his guests in song. Check out the photos below for more.
On Bellagash 2019, the group’s first brewery stop was Orval. Monks have been brewing Trappist-style beer here since 1632. And the ruins around the monastery itself date back to 1132 C.E.
Along with cheese made at the brewery, we sampled two different ages of classic Orval. And one brewery-only version that has a lower ABV.
Our next brewery stop was St. Feuillien. They brew a world-class tripel, as well as a grand cru, brune, saison, grisette, and more.
The group stayed at an inn nestled into the countryside in a town named Houffalize.
The next day brought them to De Ranke (pronounced “duh rahn-kuh”). You’re looking at the aftermath of an epic lunch and tasting session.
At the end of the day the group made their way back to La Vieille Forge. The inn’s owner, Pol, of course brews his own beer. He also loves to lead his guests in song.
No better way to cap an evening than with homemade Belgian beer and cuisine.
The Second Leg of the Trip
The Bellagash 2019 crew then headed to Ghent. People have been gathering there since the iron age, and you can feel the gravity of history in every street, cathedral, and canal. Using Ghent as a home base, the crew headed to some of Belgium’s most revered breweries: De Dolle, Cantillon, and De la Senne. Of course, they had to make a late-night visit to our friend Lieven in his eclectic bicycle bar ‘t Velootje. On top of that, the crew sampled more than a few beers, sang more songs and ate dinner at Amadeus—a Bellagash tradition.
The history that fills the Ghent is readily apparent no matter where you look.
The first brewery visit was De Dolle Brouwers, where Rob and Jason have become great friends with Chris, the owner, brewmaster, and designer of everything De Dolle.
Here’s Chris, accepting the gift of a couple wild Allagash beers (while wearing a sweet Allagash bow tie).
The inside of ‘t Velootje needs to be experienced in person to fully understand its eclectic clutter.
No Bellagash trip, or visit to Belgium for that matter, would be complete without a visit to Cantillon, a storied producer of Belgian Lambic beer.
The Bellagash crew was lucky enough to enjoy a Lambic tasting led by Cantillon’s brewmaster, Jean van Roy.
Of course they had a waffle or two.
Brasserie de la Senne is famous for its balanced and inventive beers. Yvan De Baets is a wealth of knowledge; we could listen to stories from him all day
Of course, more than a few laughs were had throughout all of the “very serious” beer tasting.
All employees who are yet to hit the five-year mark are certainly looking forward to their turn on a Bellagash trip. That very much includes the author of this blog.