An accomplished chef becomes an honorary knight in Belgium during a grand ceremony in Brussels. Sounds like a fairy tale, right?
It’s not. Yard House Executive Chef Carlito Jocson, also a co-founder of the brand, was knighted last month in Brussels for showing exceptional merit as an ambassador for Belgian beer. The event also included a march through the streets and a blessing of beer during a cathedral mass.
“I was amazed by the magnitude of the honor and the ceremony,” Carlito said. “It was surreal to see a mass in a cathedral for a blessing of a barrel of beer and the honorary knights.”
The lifetime achievement was bestowed on Carlito by the Knighthood of the Brewers’ Paddle, also known as the Belgian Brewers, heirs to a brewing guild formed in the 14th century to represent the honor and reputation of the brewing trade.
Carlito has always been a strong advocate for Belgian beer. When the first Yard House opened in 1996, it had several Belgian beers on tap — and Yard House continued that trend throughout the craft beer renaissance. Belgian beers tell a unique story rooted in place and history, Carlito said, which will always be relevant to the serious beer drinker.
The three-hour ceremony, which dates to medieval times, concluded with the solemn enthronement of new and honorary knights in Town Hall. It was attended by eight Yard House general managers who were chosen to come along on the trip because they won a yearlong beverage-sales contest.
Christy Hanson, vice president of sales for importer Global Beer Network and an honorary knight herself, nominated Carlito for knighthood. “It’s a big, big honor, and he earned it. He’s worked hard to educate and elevate Belgian beer from Day One,” she said.
One of only three Americans among the 20 people knighted this year, he has challenged Belgian brewers to be innovative to appeal to Yard House guests who seek out new experiences.
Yard House has 1,185 draft lines dedicated to Belgian beers, including three unique house beers that Carlito helped craft to bring the best of Belgium to Yard House guests.
“Belgian beer, with its history, the passion of its brewers and its unique taste,” he said, “is an essential part of our offerings to the beer aficionados who visit Yard House.”