Beer in Belgium...

May 7th, 2001, 05:12 AM
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Beer in Belgium...

I am going to Belgium soon (Brugge) and want to experience the fine beers of the region. Does anyone have any recommendations on what pubs, breweries, etc. I shouldn't miss? Any brands of beer that I have to check out? Thanks fodorites for any help you can offer!
May 7th, 2001, 05:23 AM
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Hello, Nik! I'm going to Bruges as well and found an old post with the following helpful info from Wes Fowler:

With over 400 varieties of beer in Belgium, it’s almost impossible to make recommendations. It’s easier to tell you which beers to stay away from, namely “Jupiler”, “Leffe” and “Stella Artois”, three mass-market beers with all the character of Bud Lite.
Look instead for a Chimay, either Chimay Red, Chimay White or Chimay Blue. These are all Trappist monastery beers and excellent. The colors refer to the color of the crown cork on the bottle. (Yes, many of the Belgian beers are corked in the bottle!)

For Lambic beers, try Timmermans’ Lambic, Gueuze and Kriek. All are fruity and truly distinctive. You can encounter cherry, raspberry, peach flavors in the lambics. It’s a bit disconcerting to drink a ruby colored beer with a thick pink head and carbonation as delicate as that of a fine champagne. These may be the beer for you; they're known as "ladies' beers".

For something truly distinctive, look for Gueuze Girardin, a complex beer with hints of apples, sherry and cedar.

In Brugge, visit the café ‘tBrugs Beertje at 5 Kemelstraat just off Simon Stevinplein. It offers over 300 of Belgium’s beers. Brugge has a brewery, the “Straffe Hendrick”, that’s been in operation for over 450 years and offers tours.

May 7th, 2001, 05:43 AM
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We did not take the Straffe Hendrick tour, but enjoyed an hour or so in their tasting room, overlooking a canal. Brought a couple BIG bottles home.
May 7th, 2001, 06:17 AM
wes fowler
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Now, for some background: there are four basic types of beers in Belgium, many of them regional in nature.

Lambic or Lembec is a naturally fermented beer with delicate carbonation to which fruit flavors ( cherry, raspberry, peach, apple cider) have been added. Faro is a low alcohol content Lambic. These are popularly known as “ladies beers”.

Gueuze blends young and aged Lambic to create a sweeter beer. You could equate the difference to that of a single malt whisky to a blend.

Wheat beers are made with a concentration of wheat as well as barley malts. They’re tart and frothy.

Finally, the premier beers of Belgium are the Trappist beers, rich dark ales produced by monasteries, Chimay and Orval being the best known. The Westmalle monastery produces a “Triple” beer that is a truly fine Pilsner type.

There are two beer museums in Brussels. The Maisojn des Brasseurs (Brewer’s House), just to the left of the entrance of the Stadthuis at 10 Grand Place is sponsored by the Confederation of Belgian Breweries and offers a quick tour and tasting. The Musee Bruxellois de la Gueuze at 56 rue Gheude near the Gare Midi metro staetion offers self guided tours and tastings.

Bieres Artisanales, 174 Chaussee de Wavre, Brussels is a shop with a comprehensive selection of Belgian beers.

There are three cafes in Brussels featuring interesting beers. In’t Spinnekopke at 1 Place du Jardin aux Fleurs has a wheat beer brewed with curacao and coriander rather than hops. It’s a cloudy white wheat beer. Mort Subite (Sudden Death, named after a dice game, not the beer’s after effects) is at 7 rue Rontagne aux Heres and offers a beer of the same name. De Ultieme Hallucinatie (the final hallucination) at 315 rue Royale serves a beer of the same name as well as an interesting Cantillon framboise.

May 7th, 2001, 11:43 AM
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mmmm beer. You're making me thirsty!

My husband and I are both beer lovers and are considering a trip to Belgium this fall. Would it be worthwhile to visit both Brussels and Brugge or would one or the other be enough for our beer tasting experience? If the answer is both is it fairly easy to travel between the two? Also is fall a good time to be there?

Nik & Heather: Hope you both have a great time. Would love to hear about your trips when you get back.

Thanks, Terri

May 7th, 2001, 12:20 PM
wes fowler
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Fall is an excellent time to visit Bruges; tourist crowds will have significantly diminished. I'd recommend a stay in Bruges rather than Brussels. Hotels will be less expensive. Bruges has some superb restaurants, charming hotels and unlike Brussels is small enough that it's easily walkable to all of the major sites and sights. Bruges is one of Europe's most charming cities with an extraordinarily interesting history.

If you've any questions regarding Bruges or Belgium in general, drop me an Email. I can offer some driving itineraries and restaurant recommendations as well as lodging. Belgium is a country well worth exploring for its many delights.

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