no. 195

“My interest in beer began when we started playing with Just Born,” Jef Van Den Steen says. “We played everywhere in Belgium. We tasted the regional beers wherever we traveled. In that time, you could only taste local beers when you were in the region they came from."

Van Den Steen has been a lead guitarist in a successful rock band, a local politician for more than 30 years, a high school mathematics teacher, and an agricultural worker on his small-scale family farm. 

He's also become an notable presence in the world of Belgian beer: a respected writer with 10 books to his name, a judge at international competitions, and a brewer. He and a couple friends in Erpe-Mere run Brouwerij De Glazen Toren.

"We would always drink local," he elaborates on those early rock 'n' roll days. "I started asking questions and looking for answers. We didn’t have the internet. There were no books about beer."

—Breandán Kearney