Author Topic: Belgium  (Read 718 times)

Offline aaspinall

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 17
    • View Profile
Belgium
« on: June 11, 2015, 04:49:59 PM »
In June of 2016 my wife and I will be on tour in Germany and Austria. We plan on extending our stay for three days to visit Belgium specifically to drink beer. Any suggestions as to where to go? We will be traveling by train from Frankfurt, Germany. Thanks for any advise.

Offline porterpounder

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 27
    • View Profile
Re: Belgium
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2015, 06:13:06 PM »
If you don't have a vehicle it will be difficult to make it out of the cities to, say the Trappist monasteries. Several (Chimay, Westvletern and La Trappe) have wonderful restaurants that serve amazing local food and of course the Trappist beers. Brussels is not my favorite city, but Cantillon, Moder Lambic and a couple other spots are worth spending a day if you enjoy sours. If I had my druthers I'd spend the whole time in Brugges. Wonderful restaurants and amazing beer bars in a beautiful old city. Cambrinus and Belgian Beertje are my favorite spots there.

Offline svejk

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 190
  • Seattle, Wa
    • View Profile
Re: Belgium
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2015, 08:28:06 PM »
I agree - without a car, it'll be difficult to visit some of the less accessible locations.  That said, you could choose a home base and take day trips from there.  I've done this from both Ghent and Mechelen, although I did have a car both times.  In Mechelen, I stayed at the B&B run by Het Anker Brewery.  From there, it's an hour or less by train to Brussels (Cantillon, Moder Lambic as above), Antwerp (Kulminator) and Ghent, and a little over an hour to Bruges. 

One great part about having a home base is that you don't have to bring your luggage with you everywhere you go, and each time you check in and out of a new location there is a fair amount of time spent on the transition.  If you stay in one place, you can travel light and catch a train in the morning to check out a new city, spend the day there, and then catch a train back when you've had your fill.

Have a great time on your trip, and fun planning it as well!

Offline Steve Ruch

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1030
    • View Profile
Re: Belgium
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2015, 09:32:32 PM »
3 days? To do it right you'd need 3 months (or more).
Crescent City, CA

I love to go swimmin'
with hairy old women

Offline Frankenbrew

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 669
  • South Shore Brew Club, SE Massachusetts
    • View Profile
Re: Belgium
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2015, 11:20:47 PM »
Two years ago, I went to Antwerp, Brussels, and Brugges. There were great places to drink beer in all three. The one thing about Belgium, is that they really, really like their beer. So, there was never a dearth of excellent beer within walking distance. Brussels was the best--some of the suggestions above are solid. My wife and I went on a walking beer tour of Brussels that was worth the price and the time. I think we went to five or six great bars and drank the best that Belgium offers. Look online, and I'm sure that you can find it. So, if you have a car, you can hit all the popular spots, but even if you don't, there are many places to walk to and even tours that will guide you.

Good luck and enjoy!
Frank C.

And thereof comes the proverb: 'Blessing of your
heart, you brew good ale.'

Offline unclebrazzie

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 318
  • Edegem - Belgium
    • View Profile
Re: Belgium
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2015, 07:07:04 AM »
Belgium reporting :)

If you just want to drink beer, the lack of a car is in fact a bonus.  :)
However, if you rent a car (even for a day), some otherworldly experiences may occur.

So, train only scenario.
Pick three cities to visit.
I'm assuming Brussels will be there, which means Cantillon is a must (it's practically next to the train station), as well as the classics. Moeder Lambic was mentioned (it has two locations, pick whichever is most convenient), and A la Becasse s worth another mention.
If you head out to Antwerp, you can't leave without visiting the Kulminator. Vintages here, and just about anything you can think of in terms of Belgian beer. Antwaerps Bierhuyske, Gollem, Patersvaatje,...all decent but cannot hold a cande to the Kulmi. Antwerpians used to drink a beer called "bolleke", which is an amber speciale belge by De Conink (now Moortgat). When done properly, this is wonderful. When not done wonderfully, it's a sad disappointment. Drink it in a place where they serve lots of it (Den Engel at the Grote Markt should be a safe bet, and a bit of a must-see anyways, pub-wise).
Bruges: be warned. It gets swamped with tourists over the weekend, and most of the known beer pubs will be full by the time you get there. Brugs Beertje, de Garre, Gambrinus,...everyone knows them, and the irony is they'll be drinking beers they could have got in any other pub. De Struise Brouwers have a tiny beer shop in the center as well.

If "any Belgian beer" will do, then you needn't necessarily seek out these specialist pubs: most Belgian cafés have a selection of beers which will appeal to most foreigners. You're unlikely not to find most of the Trappists (bottled, occasionally one on tap), as well the ubiquitous abbeye style beers. Remember though that most Belgian pubs are "tied" to mega-breweries like Moortgat and AB-InBev, and this will translate into a monocline beer selection.


BUT hark! If you were to rent a car....being on wheels opens up a vast array of breweries and beer locations you'd otherwise miss out on.
De Struise Brouwers are only an hour's drive away from Bruges. The brewery is open to visit every Saturday between 2PM and 6PM and they typically have a fat dozen or so beers available on tap, often limited specials. This alone would be enough reason to rent a car.
A stone's throw away is the abbey of StSixtus, which itself cannot be visited, but it appears to be a Mecca of sorts for the beergeek. Shameless plug to myself, but you simply have to compare both venues for yourself.

Make up your mind about the car first.
If you decide not to rent one, think of the trip as "city trip with a beer theme".
Having a car will probably mean it'll turn into a road trip slash beer haul.
All truth is fiction.
--Don Quichote

Offline theoman

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 631
  • Outskirts of Brussels, Belgium
    • View Profile
Re: Belgium
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2015, 11:55:25 AM »
Looks like you have plenty of time to read this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Good-Beer-Guide-Belgium-Webb/dp/1852493119/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434108974&sr=1-1&keywords=good+beer+guide+belgium

But to add to what unclebrazzie said, also not far from Struise and St. Sixtus is De Dolle Brouwers. They have my favorite brewery tour every Sunday at 2pm. Also in the same 'hood is the quaint little town of Veurne, which I think is underrated. There are a few good drinking spots in and around there as well.

Offline homoeccentricus

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2008
  • A twerp from Antwerp
    • View Profile
Re: Belgium
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2015, 12:14:24 PM »
If you are into sour beers (duh!, why else come to Belgium), go to In De Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst (http://www.ratebeer.com/p/In-de-Verzekering-tegen-de-Grote-Dorst/9178/) (I think it's in the top 5 or so of all pubs in the world). It's unique. Only time it's open is on Sundays at noon. You will need a car to go there.
Frank P.

Staggering on the shoulders of giant dwarfs.

Offline riceral

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 301
    • View Profile
Re: Belgium
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2015, 12:32:25 PM »
Got back home about 10 days ago from a beer tour of Belgium. Hit a lot of different breweries and drank a lot of beer.

In addition to what unclebrazzie said about Brugge, I would also add Cafe Le Trappiste. Our last night in Brugge we had some beer here, then moved to de Garre, finally to Vino Vino to get something to eat and more beer.

I agree with Steve----3 days!? I could spend a few weeks in Brugge, and several more weeks in Belgium.
Ralph R.