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History

The International Gueuze and Kriek Festival, better known as the Night of the Great Thirst, was organized for the first time in 2004. Initially, it was a protest  by some beer lovers from Belgium and abroad who wished to express their support to the lambic brewers of Flemish Brabant. In fact, in 2004, an inspector of the Federal Food Agency (FAVV) threatened to close down a number of breweries in the Pajottenland and the Senne Valley. The cause of the conflict was the fact that the FAVV food inspectors were not familiar with the old brewing techniques based on spontaneous fermentation.

Many gueuze enthusiasts braved during the first Night of the Great Thirst the downpour to make clear to government officals that consumers attached great importance to the survival and protection of a centuries-old brewing method. It was an unexpected success. About 700 people attented the beer fest, double the number than expected.

Fortunately, the relations between the FAVV and the brewers community of the Pajottenland and the Senne Valley were quickly back to normal. Yet in these times of increasing globalization, even in the food sector, vigilance is very important. The organizers of the festival and the High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers (HORAL) continue to draw attention to the uniqueness of this piece of cultural heritage. Over the years it has become clear that the people of the Pajottenland are very proud of their Lambic, Gueuze, Kriek and other lambic beers.

Nowadays, the Geuze Society is organizing the festival with the help of many vulonteers and local associations. The last edition (in 2016) attracted over 2,300 visitors. One in four visitors came from abroad. 

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