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sabredude28 Jul 2nd, 2008 06:32 AM

Belgian Beer and Breweries
 
I'm currently putting together a travel plan for an 8-9 night trip to Belgium and was wondering if anyone had any brewery visits to recommend, or for that matter any Belgian beer in particular I should not miss while I'm there.

wren Jul 2nd, 2008 07:12 AM

Don't know about any breweries---but I particularly liked drinking "Duvel" when in Belgium---

hetismij Jul 2nd, 2008 07:12 AM

Have a look at http://www.visitbelgium.com/beer.htm

hetismij Jul 2nd, 2008 07:17 AM

Oh and I suggest you try a Pauwel Kwak, if only to try drinking it from it's special glass.

This is a pretty complete list of breweries:
http://tinyurl.com/5d8cl7

This site is for Zythos (like CAMRA in the UK): http://tinyurl.com/54vrla

yk Jul 2nd, 2008 08:53 AM

I have bookmarked these breweries in Bruges:
http://www.halvemaan.be/e/default.htm
http://home.scarlet.be/caramba/BMBM.htm
http://www.kroegske.be/bier.html

And the Guardian guide to beer in Brussels:
http://tinyurl.com/4gg9rq

libssmfamily Jul 2nd, 2008 09:03 AM

Depending on where you set up camp in Belgium, by train or car, you can travel south into Luxembourg and visit the Orval, a Cistercian monastic community that offers beer, cheese and bread that you could die for! It's also noted in "1,000 Places to See Before You Die, A Traveler's Life List" by Patricia Schultz.

http://www.orval.be/an/space/space.html

zeppole Jul 2nd, 2008 10:04 AM

I think Antwerp is the crown jewel of Belgium (my second favorite town is Ghent).

I prefer gin to beer, and Antwerp has great bars to try gin.

Beer is pretty subjective, and some beer taste better in summer or winter or vice versa.

stfc Jul 2nd, 2008 10:08 AM

All Belgian beers are good and quite distinctive. Experiment! Be advised though, they vary from strong to very strong. A bottle of Trappist beer at lunchtime might require a bit of a lie-down afterwards.

BTilke Jul 2nd, 2008 10:11 AM

When is your visit? I would normally suggest the trappist brewery near Rochefort, but it's currently closed to visitors. Beer aficionado friends in Belgium say they may open at some point, so check closer to your travel dates. They produce some of the least known but also among the the best of the Trappist brews. They've been brewing since the 16th century, but only started selling in the 1950s. Cafes in the little town of Rochefort near Namur do sell it, of course and it's worth stopping by if you're driving around the region.
http://www.trappistes-rochefort.com/abbaye_accueil.htm

http://www.classiccitybrew.com/rochefort.html


RufusTFirefly Jul 2nd, 2008 10:12 AM

Brouwerij Westvleteren brews possibly the best beer in the world.

http://www.sintsixtus.be/eng/home.htm

sabredude28 Jul 2nd, 2008 02:38 PM

Not visiting till June of next year. Rochefort sounds like a great place, hopefully they will reopen soon. I know Westvleteren and Chimay don't offer tours, so I guess Orval may be the only trappist that offers tours, although I don't know about Westmalle and Achel and if they offer them.

scottvan Jul 2nd, 2008 03:04 PM

For brewery tours, Stella Artois may be of interest (it's brewed in Leuven, a nice University town with an impressive town hall). I personally drank other beers while in Belgium, since Stella is easily available in my country.

I unfortunately can't seem to find the list I kept of the 28 different beers I tried while there, but I will keep looking as that might give you some more ideas. I do remember that several Westmalle brews were high on my list, as were Kwak (gimmicky glass, but still an excellent beer) and Delirium Tremens (gimmicky bottle, but still an excellent beer). St. Bernardus triple I believe was also a hit. Some of the lambic and geuze beers I found to be refreshing after a long day in the summer. In short, there's a tremendous variety of Belgian beers, nearly all of them quite excellent (of the 28, I recall only 2 I wouldn't try again).

Enjoy your trip!

64driver Jul 3rd, 2008 03:21 AM

Conde Nast Traveler magazine has a "great drives" column, or did until recently, and during the past year they ran a driving itinerary that focused on Belgian beer. If you search the website you can probably find it.

Leffe Dark, my favorite!

hetismij Jul 3rd, 2008 03:57 AM

However if you do a "great drive" to visit breweries you won't be able to sample the product. Bear that in mind if you are hiring a car to visit these places! Belgian beer is stronger on the whole than US beer, and the drink drive limit is lower - but you wouldn't drink and drive anyway would you?

doonhamer Jul 3rd, 2008 04:23 AM

My favourite Belgian beers depend on circumstances:- if I'm only having one or two, then Westmalle or Grimbergen will be right up there, although any Trappist beer is worth trying. I find Duvel, with its bottle fermentation, a little too fizzy for my taste, although it is very popular.
I like Gordons in the winter, nice, dark & heavy, and in the summer I'll take a Kriek (Timmermans for choice) to cut my thirst.
If I'm having a few beers of an evening, then Palm Special, my number one beer, is the beer of choice.
With a meal, something like a Maes pils will do nicely thank you.

Now that I've listed all those, I realise I should have asked about your preferences beer-wise, so the suggestions couold be more tailored to your palate. Sorry.

RufusTFirefly Jul 3rd, 2008 04:40 AM

Drinking and Driving:

Some years ago, my wife and I visited Bavaria and the Mosel River area. We arranged to meet a guy (German) I had known at the age of 12-13 or so when my father was stationed in Bamberg 45 years before.

We met and talked about old times, and he showed us around Kobern for a couple of hours. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch.

I'm normally a beer drinker, but as we were on the Mosel, I ordered local wine to drink. He, being originally from Bamberg, ordered beer. We each had a couple of drinks.

When the waitress came by to ask if we wanted more drinks, my friend said, "Rufus, do not have another glass of wine. Our blood alcohol limits are now so insanely low." I went along with his advice, and then was a bit surprised when he ordered another large beer, especially since he had a longer drive to his home near Koeln than we did back to Beilstein.

When I questioned him about why he could keep drinking beer when he advised me to not have more wine, his reply was simply, "but it is beer." I guess it's a Bavarian thing--liquid bread and all. In case anyone is wondering, he is a well-educated, successful, bright guy, and devoted family man, not any kind of a flake or lowlife.

I remember in the late 50s and early 60s around Bamberg and Nuernberg seeing construction and road workers swilling large bottles of beer on their morning breaks. They would send one guy on his bicycle to the local beer vendor, and he'd return with several bottles looped over his handlebars clinking and clanking as he bounced over the cobblestones--I wonder if there was a high accident rate on the job sites after the morning breaks.


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