My Gnome-tastic Visit to Brewery Achouffe in Belgium

Several years ago while shopping at Whole Foods, I caught a glimpse of a gnome perched atop a beer tap at the grocery store’s bar. Ever since that day, I’ve been obsessed with Brasserie D’Achouffe, a gnome-themed brewery in the countryside of Belgium.

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Through my gnome writings, I’ve even gotten to know the brewery’s founder, Chris Bauweraerts via email! Well one of my gnome travel bucket-list dreams recently came true when I booked a trip to Belgium to visit Chris and these tiny gnome brewers.

My gnome-supportive husband and I rented a car in Brussels, and drove two hours to reach the brewery in the rolling hills of the Belgian Ardennes. Belgians drive on the right side of the road, not the wrong/left side like they do in the UK, so it was pretty easy to get around.

rental car

But first, we stopped in Liege, a small Belgian town on the way. A quick TripAdvisor search told me that the top thing to do in Liege was climb the Coteaux de la Citadelle, which involves 374 stairs that lead to an awesome view of the town.


The town of Liege has an upper level and a lower level, so we wandered the streets of both, which were connected by peaceful wooded trails. Although I only had a couple hours to spend here, I’d say it was definitely a worthwhile pit stop.

And what’s a pit stop without some sustenance?! Here’s me skeptically eating a delightful (?) lunch of canned corn and peanut butter while watching some drama go down with the local police.


But without further delay, onward we traveled to Achouffe! The brewery location is beautiful with cutesy homes, a small lake, and gnome figures scattered all around on the walls and signs.

Chouffe 1It was a Friday afternoon and all was quiet on the gnome-front. This was fine with me, as it provided many uninterrupted photo ops with the local gnome residents.

Chouffe 2Helpful gnomes pointed us in the right direction as we explore the grounds before our scheduled tour.
Chouffe 4Reminiscent of that day back in Chicago when I “gnomed myself” at Chouffe Fest Chicago, the brewery had a perfectly-situated and oversized chair to hop into and feel as tiny as the gnome brewers themselves.

Related: The Night I Gnomed Myself – Chouffe Fest Chicago

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Standard brewery tours are in Dutch; however, our gracious guide, Lydia, took the time to translate everything in English just for us.

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We got to see the Achouffe beer-making equipment, brewing vats, and even a short film about the brewery’s history. Not surprisingly, I was captivated and enthralled during every single moment.

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Then Lydia led us to the tasting room to sample all the Chouffe specialties: the traditional blonde (La Chouffe), decadent brown(Mc Chouffe), hoppy IPA (Houblon Chouffe), and fruity summer beer (Chouffe Soleil). I must reveal that I’m a bit of a craft beer connoisseur, and even if gnomes weren’t on each label, these would still be some of my all-time favorites!

Chouffe 8I even got to play bartender for a bit! Could a full-time gig and relocation to Belgium be in my future?


Although the staff gave us complementary glasses and postcards, I quickly found myself stocking up on gnome gear at the souvenir shop. I’m now the proud owner of a long-sleeved Chouffe bike shirt, wall plaque, key chain, and zip drive!

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But the highlight of my brewery visit was meeting and spending time with the owner and founder, Chris. I could not have asked for a more welcoming and hospitable host!

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Chris published a book, called My Chouffe Story, which details how the brewery began in 1982 and how the gnomes became such an important part of the brewing process. He gave me a signed copy of his book as a gift, a memento I will always treasure.

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Chris went out of his way to make us fall in love with the Belgian countryside, taking us to some of his favorite places in the area. We followed Chris, (in his orange shirt and orange car…a fellow fan of everything orange, like me!) to a nearby bed, breakfast & brewery, La Vieille Forge, which is known as the tiniest brewery in Belgium.

By the way, the concept of a BB&B is amazing and there should be more of these…EVERYWHERE.

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I got to meet the mastermind behind Brewery Inter-Pol and sample his two original beers, which were delicious. I really just wanted to stay at this tiny country pub for a while with the super-friendly locals and crash overnight at the B&B, but alas, all the rooms were booked for a biking event in the area. Maybe next time.


After reluctantly leaving the tiny brew pub, Chris took a traditional kebob & fries restaurant, Friterie Au Chat l’Heureux, to fill up our stomachs after all that awesome beer.


There were a few too many choices for my overloaded brain at this point in the brew-fueled day, but was finally able to decide on an order. Whew.

Fries are a big deal in Belgium, and although I tend to avoid the greasy specimens back in the States, I felt obliged to give ’em try on this side of the pond. I can’t deny that they were a tremendously satisfying post-beer snack. Good thing I’d been averaging 10 miles of walking per day!


Chris knows the ins and outs of everything in the Belgian Ardennes…even the history behind an old cemetery that we stopped to check out along the road.


In caravan-style, we spent our afternoon following him to a few of his other favorite places in the area, including a WWII site, scenic nature sites with yellow wildflowers, the production & bottling facility, and a local pub.

Chouffe19Gnome and beer enthusiasts truly are the friendliest people in the world, and I’m so happy to have hundreds of photos (literally, hundreds) to remember my gnome-tastic day forever.

Chouffe18A big thanks goes out to Chris, Isabelle, Lydia, and all the Chouffe staff for making my gnome brewery visit absolutely perfect. Cheers!


*A version of this story is published in the current edition of the “International Gnome Club Newsletter.” Drop a line to President Liz Spera at [email protected] to become a member of our club and keep up with gnome enthusiasts like me!

The Night I Gnomed Myself – Chouffe Fest Chicago

Brasserie d’ Achouffe, or the Achouffe Brewery, is the only gnome-themed brewery in the world. Therefore, it also happens to be my favorite brewery in the world.


Founded in 1982 (a year before me!), Achouffe is nestled in the green hills of the Belgian Ardennes and brews superb-quality Belgian beers. Brother-in-laws Pierre Gorbon and Christian Bauweraerts began brewing ales as a hobby in the late 70s. Their spearhead product is La Chouffe, a golden blonde ale with a pleasantly fruity taste and hints of coriander. McChouffe (which is in no way related to McDonald’s), is a dark and full-flavored Scottish ale and is one of the brewery’s best-selling products.

Although I haven’t yet found a way to teleport myself to Belgium, the Internet tells me that visitors can take a tour of the brewery while wearing gnome hats. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Tours include a professional guide, introductory film, 45-minute tour, visit to the gift shop, drink samples, and souvenir gifts.


In recent months, Achouffe has been hosting “Chouffe Fests” in cities like Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. In honor of LaChouffe Gnome Week, which was September 18-21, the brewery organized community events, handed out red gnome hats, and encouraged fans to “gnome thyself” with a fun mobile app.

Finally, (FINALLY!) a Chouffe Fest was scheduled in my home base, Chicago. It was held at the Logan Square Auditorium on a Thursday evening in late March.


Chouffe Fests are one-night events that transform boring old event spaces into gnome-inspired realms using larger-than-life entrance ways, eight-foot tall gnome throne photo booths, and big-scale versions of classic games like checkers, Jenga and Connect Four. Scattered stations offer live screen-printed posters, on-site letter pressed postcards to write and send, coloring book pages to scribble on, and a gnome-i-fying caricature artist.


Tickets were just $10 each and I bought mine the day I heard about the event.

Although I found the set-up to be quite wonderful, the execution was quite excruciating. I arrived before the gnomes even opened the doors and quickly nabbed my first beer. Tickets included five drink tickets and free food, photos, games, and music.

But there was a catch.

Who knew SO many people in Chicago loved gnomes? Or maybe it was just the beer.

Hundreds of people began flooding into the close-quartered event space. Within an hour, it took more than 30 minutes to get through the beer line. Yes, there was food at the end of the tunnel, but I began gnawing at my own arm during a painful wait for my miniature slider and bag of chips.

Holding cariacture

Since I arrived so early, I was able to get my caricature drawn – which was what I was looking forward to the most. In a totally weird way, I’ve always seen myself as a gnome, and now the rest of the world could too. This was the night I gnomed myself.

I was also able to get a couple professional pics taken in the oversize chair and snag a poster and a few postcards (hey did you guys get them? I’m always worried about the reliability of postcard mail). My patience ran too thin to stand in additional lines to play the oversize games, but I’m already pretty good at using my imagination to pretend I’m gnome-sized.

A DJ spun some unremarkable tunes during the bulk of the event, but then in truly random fashion, an oompah oompah band seized the back balcony. Every gnome hat spun 180-degrees.


It’s a crying shame, but I wasn’t even able to use up all my drink tickets because of the ridiculous lines. Despite the wonderfully gnomish quality of this event, I was reminded of a timely and important fact: I DESPISE CROWDS AND FESTIVALS REALLY AREN’T THAT FUN ANYMORE.


Maybe that feeling comes from living in an overpopulated, stressful place for too long. Or maybe it comes from turning 30. But in the end, this was a gnome-themed event and there was beer. And if you have any inkling of how much I enjoy these two things individually – let alone together – putting on a happy face really wasn’t all that much of a challenge.

Regardless of the gnomes Brasserie d’ Achouffe makes really amazing beer, and I hope these nationwide events spark people’s interest and lead to more local bars serving their brews. I gotta cut the Chouffe-sters a little slack about the organization and crowd issues since it is their first year. Chouffe Fests are selling out all over the country (Brooklyn and D.C. just wrapped up last week) and good for them!

Oh, and on my way out, I didn’t forget to stock up on few extra gnome hats. There were plenty and don’t judge me….I know I have a problem. And I now have four gnome hats to accompany my other two. Obscure costume needs? Send ’em my way!