Kortrijk

Kortrijk doesn’t really have that many beery places. When you walk from the station towards the centre, there are quite a few bars that just serve rubbishy beers.

On the main square, Klokke used to have an excellent selection of beer, but they changed owner who decided less was best.

There’s probably half a dozen reasonable bars, although only two of them are near the centre

Eirekedeire

Sint Janstraat 31, Kortrijk
Hours: from 17; Thu – closed

They used to have 80+ beers. On this visit, they had 54 with anything remarkably exciting omitted. The barman said they didn’t sell. Still, it’s not bad to visit – it’s a nice little bar that’s cosy and welcoming.

 

Gainsbar

 
Vlasmarkt1, Kortrijk.
Hours: Mon – closed; Tue-Fri – 12-01; Fri 12-03; Sat 14-03; Sun + Bank Holidays – 14-01

Wow. My kind of bar. Very good selection of beers including some rarer ones (the beer list’s on their website) , including a few from the nearby Alvinne brewery and also De Molen. The night I was in it was quite lively but not in an overpowering kind of way.

Prague

Prague’s good for beer. The Czech Republic has a long history of beer and even though much of it is bog standard lager, scratch beneath the surface and there are some really really good beers to found. Tourism has had a big part to play in all of this, and it’s helped develop some really good breweries and beery places, but it’s also chucked out a load of rubbish.

A colleague once asked me about Prague and it’s beer and I told him “Stay away from the main square. Go even one street away and if you see Czechs, you’re not going to be far wrong”. When he came back, he grumbled at how much he’d paid for bottles of Corona from ‘English bars’ on the main square.

So – where was visited on this trip?

Pivovarská Restaurace Berounský Medvěd

Tyršova 135, 266 01 Beroun, Czech Republic
Mon 09-20; Tue-Thu 09-22; Fri, Sat 09-23; Sun 10-20.

Ever been to a pub in a scrap yard? How about a brewery? No? Well visit Prague and get yourself off to Beroun (40 mins from Prague by train). Leave the station, turn left and after two minutes you’ll be in a scrap yard. Pass the Tatra and Škoda lorries, keep going past the tank and you’ll find this small restaurant, bar and brewery. They even have a hotel on site too!

Step from the train and into the station still ensconced in the Communist era and head left, walking by the railway lines into the scrap yard.

Many a beer afternoon has been spent here sampling the two beers – Světlý ležák 11° and Tmavý speciál 13°. Also available were some new ones – Cyklopivo světlý 8° and Polotmavý speciál Grizzly 18°. They also had a couple of beers from other breweries – Podkovan 10 Kvasnikove and Klepacek Polotmave 14. The rather excellent and very cheap lunchtime food (CZK69!) was also sampled

It’s one of the standards for Prague beer – well worth a visit.

 

Zlý Časy

Čestmírova 390/5 140 00 Prague 4-Nusle, Czech Republic
Mon-Thu 11-23:30; Fri 11-01; Sat 17-01; Sun 17-23
Tram: Line 11, 18; stop Náměstí Bratří Synků (on the way to or from První Pivní Tramway)

Well – Zlý Časy. They stopped selling Big Brand beers something like four years ago, and now have 24 beers on tap along with more bottles (Czech, German, English, Scottish, Belgian…_ that you could shake a stick at. The range of beers is displayed on information cards across the top of the bar as well as a menu (tick list) presented to your table. Of course, it’s table service which at times can be a tad slow, but that’s usually because the bar’s full. Oh yeah – if you want to be guaranteed somewhere to sit, arrive early!

As far as beer selection goes, Zlý Časy is easy the best bar in Prague. Prices are very reasonable (much better than other establishments with a ‘decent range’ in the area) and is just generally a decent place to spend a few hours in an evening.

 

Hotel V Pivovaře Davle

Davle, K Pivovaru 1, 252 06 Praha západ
Mon-Thu 10:30-22; Fri 10:30-11; Sat 10:30-11; Sun 10:30-22
Railway station: Davle

I’ve been through Davle a few times, and even spent about half an hour there last year. I’d noticed the building but there was no sign of a brewery. A few months ago however, the building was transformed into a hotel, brewery and restaurant. Excellent! [Update: the beer is brewed elsewhere]

Leaving the station and crossing the Davelský Bridge, which was used as the bridge in the film ‘The Bridge at Remagen’ and turn left and the imposing building is just in front. Everywhere seemed pretty dead in the town when we arrived, but fortunately there was a chap serving beer. They seem to do a range of seven beers, but only the only one available on draught was the sedmnáctke – a 17° golden beer. It was rather good. The other beers were all available, but only in 1.5l bottles – perhaps a bit much when we only had 40 minutes between trains.

The beer has a small terrace overlooking the river which in summer months, I would imagine is most pleasant. The area is popular with walkers and in summer, there is a steam train service.

 

Pivovarský klub

Křižíkova 17°, Praha 8, Karlín
Mon-Sun 11:30-23:30
Metro: Line B, C; stop Florenc

Pivovarský dům is the oldest of the new wave of brew pubs and is incredibly popular with tourists. Pivovarský klub is it’s younger brother, concentrates more on beer than food (even though the former actually brews the beer) and is definitely less touristy.

With up to six draught beers to choose from and over 200 bottles, it’s probably the best stocked bar in the centre. They usually have one or two beers brewed at Pivovarský dům, but the rest are from small breweries across the country. As can be expected, the food is rather good too.

 

Havelská Koruna

Havelská 501/23, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město
Mon-Sun 11-18
Tram: Národní třída

Havelská Koruna is not strictly a beery place, (they only sell Gambrinus and Pilsner Urquell). It is however a classic old fashioned Czech restaurant – my favourite since the one on Na poříčí was sold and turned into a Starbucks.

As you enter, you’re given a slip of paper that is imprinted with a stern warning of the threat of a 500CZK fine if you lose it!

Once you’ve overcome the shock of the threat of losing the piece of paper, you approach the array of serveries. At the hot food one, you have the choice of reading the menu on the wall in Czech or pointing to what you want, except that you can’t point to what you want as everything is covered with metal lids. Even though the style of restaurant is a bit of a throwback to the ‘olden days’, the staff now do have a smattering of English, although I was able to order the old favourite of ‘vepřo-knedlo-zelo’ (roast port, dumplings and sauerkraut), a beer and retire to the table. Everything you order is marked by number on the piece of paper which is then presented to the cashier on the way out.

If you’re in the centre of Prague and want good, homestyle cooking at a most agreeable price, go here.

První Pivní Tramway

Na Chodovci 1a, 140 00 Prague 4 – Záběhlice
Mon – Sun 14-00?
Tram 11; stop Spořilov (on the way to or from Zlý Časy)

Get off the tram at the terminus and immediately in front of you is a building. This is První Pivní Tramway. Walking time – about 2 steps.

This place is crowded. Even with only a few people in it’s crowded, but this gives you a good chance to sit with the locals and have a chat, for this place is definitely off the tourist trail (hurrah!). It’s got six beers with two or three exciting ones, again with good food at exceedingly good prices. Only downside – a touch on the smoky side.

 

Prague Beer Museum

Dlouhá 720/46 110 00 Prague 5-Old Town, Czech Republic
Opening hours: not mention on the web anywhere, but seem to remember them open much later than anywhere else
Tram: Dlouhá třída

Well, I was looking forward to this place. They had quite good reviews when they opened, but that seems to be long gone. Yes, they do have 30 beers on tap, but takeaway the national blands and they have less than Zlý Časy. Prices are very expensive – probably 10-20CZK more per 30cl beer than most other places.

The staff are a bit useless too – the one serving us just seemed to want to sell us the most expensive one – 69CKZ for a 30cl – that’s dearer than the UK! They also had a beer on called ‘Good Bulldog’ but no one seemed to know who brewed it and I was also advised not to try the house beer. It was also very smoky. If you’re a tourist, fine – you’ll like it. If you want a decent beer, find somewhere else.

Czech beer glossary

Czech beer’s good. The lingo might be a bit special for anyone so here’s a few tips and word n stuff.

The beer is measured in degrees plato, so you instead of having a 5% beer, you might have a 12° beer. Read all about it here if you want, but a good rule of thumb is to subtract two from the plato scale and then divide by two. It’s not accurate, but it sort of works.

Beery words

Tmavý -dark
Svetlý – light
Polotmavý – medium dark
Ležák – premium beer
Pšeničné – wheat beer
Medový – beer with honey
Višňový – beer with cherries

Two bars in Brno

U Richarda 2

Údolní 7, Brno, Czech Republic.
Mon-Sat 11-23, Sun 11-22

U Richarda Brew Pub has been open in Brno for a wee while now, but as it’s out in the sticks and I’ve only been to Brno once before, I’ve never managed to visit. All is not lost now as there’s a second branch on the edge of the city centre (probably only 5 mins from Pegas brewpub.

Although catering to drinkers, U Richarda 2 does seem quite food based – in fact they call themselves a ‘Restaurace’ so it would have seemed rude not to have taken advantage of the current special offer of 500g of spicy pork ribs, bread and a Czech salad / garnish for 149CZK- about a fiver. Oh – with two beers too!

From what I understand, the beers are brewed out in the brew pub in the suburbs and sold there in the bar. I tried all they had to offer , these being
Světlý ležák 12°
Tmavý ležák 12°
Višňový ležák 12° – a cherry beer
Pivni Special 12°
Pšeničné 11° – a wheat beer
Medový speciál 15° – a dark beer laced with honey.

A nice, modern bar, good food and good beer!

 

Pegas

Jakubská 4, Brno, Czech Republic.

There’s not really a lot to say about Pegas – if you’ve been to Brno and like a beer, the chances are you’ve been to Pegas. Pretty much bog standard German / Czech beer hall type place with lots of wood, hops on the ceiling and fag smoke. The beer’s good though!

Whilst there, the Christmas beer was available – ‘Vánoční’ – a 15° beer that the barman said was just a mix of two of the standard beers. Still, if you blend two very good beers, you’re bound to still end up with a good beer!

Mister Bières, Sète

Mister Bières, Sète

Now closed, but a new place has opened on the other side of the square – Bieres et Terroirs

Place Delille, 34200 Sète, France
Tue-Fri 10-14 and 17-22, Sat 10-22, Sun (June – September) 10-14 and 17-22
+33 4 67 78 52 37

In my experience, France isn’t particularly good for beer, everywhere seems to be overrun with run of the mill stuff like Kronenbourg, Heineken or even Pelforth.

If you’re really fortuitous, you might stumble across a small microbrewery. Even though it may be in the same town, local bars tend not to stock them but fortunately, supermarkets often do.

However, things in Sète are different – all is not lost! Sitting in Place Delille is ‘Mister Bières’. It’s only been open a couple of weeks and I found it by accident – “Look Jemma – there’s a shop selling beers… Run! It says it stocks over 300”. A quick look inside at the bulging shelves revealed offerings mainly from Belgium along with probably the best selection of French beers I’ve seen!

Speaking to the owner, Philippe Vasseur, he originates from Lille and has brought some of his local beer culture with him. A resonable proportion of the French beers are from the Flanders area, but there’s also examples from Brasserie Artisnale du Sud, La Grivoise and La Castagne du Cevenol, to name but a few. If you can’t wait to take beers home, there are a few tables outside to sit and enjoy them.

One interesting thing I noticed was a bottle of La Cagole Blanche. La Cagole Blonde has been around for a while with production at Pivovar Nymburk in Czech Republic following the closure of the brewery in Marseille. The Blanche however, displays the words ‘Fabrique en France’. A bit more detective work is needed here!

If you’re ever in the area, a visit is well worthwhile. Mister Bières is something every French town could do with!

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Click ‘Read more’ for the beers I sourced at Mister BièresThe beers I either tried there or brought home were

La Castagne du Cevenol – Aujac
Bogue – 6.5%

La Cagole – Marseille
Blanche – 4.5%

L’Agrivoise – Saint-Agreve
La Pasee – 6.5%
La Commun’ale – 5.0%
Sous les Paves Biere Noire – 5.5%

La Brasserie Artisanale Du Sud – Nyons
La Grihette Mange Soif Blanche – 4.7%
La Grihette Mange Soif Blonde – 4.9%
La Grihette Songe Fete Ambree – 4.8%

Anosteke – Blaringhem
Blonde – 8%
Bracine Triple – 9%

Garrigues,
La Belle en Goguette – 6%
Saison des Amours – 5.5%
La Frappiste – 7.5%

Leuven Beer Festival 2011

Jemma and myself were stopping in Brussels as it was ideally placed to get to Lille to see the Paris-Roubaix cycle race and also to be able to pop to Leuven for their beer festival, organised by de Leuvense Biertherapeuten.

It was not the easiest festival to get to – a short train ride from Brussels, an extremely cramped bus ride with a dog licking my foot then a 15 minute walk through the park to the festival venue.

An outside table was soon commandeered overlooking the lake and park, resulting in what must have been one of the best beer festival venues I’ve ever attended.

The range of beers was okish, although a number of them were starting to sell out by mid afternoon. Another problem was that a number of the ones I wanted to try were only available in 750ml bottles!

Antwerp and Sint-Niklaas – day 2

Zythos Beer Festival 2011

Stadsfeestzaal, Sint-Niklaas

Big.

Belgium’s biggest beer festival, held for the last time this year at the Stadsfeestzaal is Belgium’s biggest. Featuring more than 60 brewers and 200 beers, there was plenty to go at! I joined a number of UK beer tickers and sampled a range of beers. I won’t go into all the beers I tried, but a couple were worthy of mentioning –

De Dolle Brouwers Verse Vis (Fresh Fish)
A most strange beer indeed! It was brewed with no hops, had a Belgian lactic sour flavour and was made with cider yeast! There’s a quite a bit more about it on the Belgian Beer Board.

Smisje Smiske R-Ale
A dry hopped version of the Smisje Blonde, except that the beer is pumped through a pile of hops, effectively dry hopping the beer on the fly. Again, more details on the Belgian Beer Board.

Roll on next year’s festival in Leuven!

Antwerp and Sint-Niklaas – day 1

It’s my plan to visit a few more Belgian beer festivals this year. First on the list – Zythos Bier Festival in Sint-Niklaas. I stopped overnight in Antwerp and visited a few places there.

Kulminator, Antwerpen

Vleminckveld 32, Antwerpen
Mon 20.15-24, Tue-Fri 12-24, Sat 17-24, Sun closed
03 – 232 4538

Kulminator is one of those must visit places. It’s like the Eiffel Tower or Louvre if you are a ‘normal’ tourist in Paris. Or at least, that’s what I thought…

I’ve visited quite a few times now and generally, it’s been ok. The beer choice is excellent and the range of aged beers (some going back 20 and 30 years) is the best you’ll ever see. We even celebrated Jemma’s 30th birthday there a few years ago with a 30 year old beer.

The thing letting Kulminator down though is the service. If there’s only a few people in, service is not a problem. Lena will amble from bar to table to take your order, pass it to Dirk who will go into the cellar, get the beer and pass it back to Lena. Not on ZBF weekend though! The place was rammed and the only place I could find to sit was out in the smoking area. After 10 minutes of not being served, I went back inside and queued at the bar. After something like another 10 minutes, Lena took my order. The best part of 10 minutes later I left.

Ok, bars can be busy, but you have to be on top of things you’re starting to get too busy! Dirk didn’t serve – he just visited the cellar and grumbled. Anyway – things might have been a bit smarter if it wasn’t for the people looking at, sniffing at and writing an essay about their beer! Yes, you might want to have a close inspect of what you’re going to drink, but don’t write a full page of text about it! Evidently, this is very common amongst Scandinavian beer fans…

On the subject of Dirk, on my last visit back in July 2010, the place wasn’t too busy and he seemed to be stumbling around – something that he’s rather good at. All of a sudden he had a go at a customer. This customer had made the mistake of sitting at the table with the piles of magazines, newspapers and general bits of piffle and Dirk thought this customer had taken something, so we were all treated to a tirade of “you have taken something”, “get out of my bar” for about 10 minutes, all the while the customer was protesting his innocence and offering to show the contents of his bag.

After looking on Google for the bar and chatting to other beery types, it appears that these episodes are not uncommon. It’s just a shame that I’ve had lots of good visits.

After giving up, I moved back towards the main square to a street just off it and visited

‘t Antwaerps Bierhuiske, Antwerp

Hoogstraat 14, 2000 Antwerpen
Mon-Sun 12-02

Antwaerps Bierhuiske is a new place, having been open for less than a year. I first visited just after they first opened last summer. It’s a pretty average sort of bar with around 150 beers, including a good selection of slightly rarer microbrewery beers.

It’s out of the way just enough to avoid being too touristy – well worth a visit!

A few doors up, I spotted a bar I’d not heard of before…

Cafe Den Billekletser

Hoogstraat 22, 2000 Antwerpen
+32 32 31 34 48

Sign outside advertising 280 beers, so entered to find a basic tiled floor with plain tables and chairs and around 60 empty bottles in the windows. The menu only contained around 30 beers so when I asked for the rest, the young lass said they didn’t have a printed list and she would bring me what I wanted. When I said that I wanted something that was a tick, she was confused… Further probing found out that they have around 280 beers, but with 100 available at anyone time.

Prices reasonable but once again, very smoky. Might be worth another look at if they actually tell folk what they sell!

And to finish up that evening…

Biercentral

de Keyserlei 25, 2018 Antwerpen

2 minutes from Centraal Station, providing you use the right door.

Large pub, seeming to cater for all sorts during the day and yoof at night. Loud dj wouldn’t be out of place on a UK high street pub at a weekend, but with several hundred beers. They at 20 draught and more than 300 bottles. Lots of bog standard beers, but lots of rarer ones too in the custom printed catalogue.

Good to see that it’s somewhere away from the normal darkened, smoky front rooms and might have a bit of appeal to the younger drinker.

Driving round Belgium looking for beer

Between October and April, P&O Ferries have a special price starting at £74 for a car + 2 people for the overnight sailing between Hull and Zeebrugge and return. As this gives a full day in Belgium, many beer places can be visited…

Drankencentraal Rotsaert, Zedelgem

Remi Claeysstraat 28, Zedelgem
Mon-Fri 9-12, 13-18; Sat 9-12, 13-17; Sun Closed
050 20 94 98

A well established beer warehouse in the area that I’d not visited before. With perhaps around 500 beers on offer (although there didn’t seem anywhere near that number in the warehouse), 50 or so of them were new for me. My excitement for being able to get a couple of crates of ‘winners’ soon waned when I saw that most of them were only available in 4 packs that they’d assembled themselves. Sorry Mr Rotsaert – that meant I bought less, not more.

Half an hour or so along the motorway is the tiny brewery of

Alvinne, Heule

 

Brewery and shop have relocated to Moen

Mellestraat 138, Heule
Open alternate Saturdays 10:30-16, or by appointment
0486 555314

Firstly, the opening hours may seem at first a bit sparse, but in reality, I’ve never found them closed! All it takes is a quick email to the address on their website or a message on Facebook and there’s someone there.

The brewery and beer shop are very easy to miss. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve screeched to a halt after I’ve gone past, only to reverse back to it!

Climbing into the upstairs part of the brewery reveals what is perhaps one of the regions best beer shops. They leave all the others in the area to stock the common (and not so common) beers – Alvinne stock the excellent and rare to find beers, not just from Belgium, but Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, USA and a few others as well as their own range of beers.

To be honest, their own range of beers are out of this world and range from the inky black (but not ‘burnt’) Balthazar to the hop fests of Gaspar and the Hoptrilogy range.

Give them a call and pop in – you won’t be disappointed.

Next on the list to visit were

Brasserie Vanuxeem

Rue d’Armentières 150, Ploegsteert
Mon-Sat 08-18:50; Sun closed
056 58 89 23

Firstly, Brasserie Vanuxeem is not a brewery – it’s a warehouse! It’s situated in an enclave of the Hainaut province. Even though it’s surrounded by Flemish speaking Belgium and the nearest part of Hainaut is miles away, this collection of 4 or 5 small towns speak French. The town name – Ploegsteert is a Flemish name, but don’t let that fool you. Speak Flemish and you’ll be treated like a weirdo.

Anyhow, Brasserie Vanuxeem have a house brand beer- ‘Queue de Charrue’. Until recently, they had 3 beers – Blonde (9%), Brune and Ambree. These were brewed by three different breweries (Van Steenberge, Verhaeghe-Vichte and Du Bocq respectively). Then, the Blonde was renamed ‘Triple’. More recently, in 2008, a new Blonde was launched at 6.6% and brewed by Du Bocq also. The three original beers came in 250ml bottles, but this new Blonde arrives in a 330ml bottle. Finally, the Ambree now is in a 330ml bottle with the new style label – I’m not sure if this is just part of their rebranding or if it’s brewed elsewhere. Phew!

To summarise –
Blonde 9% – brewed by Van Steenberge and now known as Triple in 250ml bottles
Brune – brewed by Verhaeghe-Vichte in 250ml bottles
Ambee – brewed by Du Bocq originally in 250ml bottles, but now in 330ml and probably still brewed by Du Bocq
Triple 6.6% – brewed by Du Bocq in 330ml bottles.

As well as this quartet, they have around 500 other beers to choose from, as well as spirits, wine, soft drinks and anything else you might want need to run a cafe in Belgium, ranging from cup a soups to little biscuity snacks. I’ve always enjoyed visiting but sadly now, most of their beers I’ve tried before. I’ll still keep going as prices are very competitive and the wife likes the Queue de Charrue Blonde. Or is it Triple?

Following a trip to the supermarket, we headed north along the motorway back in the direction of Zeebrugge and called in at …

Bierboom, Brugge

Langestraat 73, Brugge
Mon-Tue 10-19, Wed closed, Thu-Sat 10-19, Sun closed (although website says it’s open)
050 34 99 36

I’d heard a lot about this cafe / shop and to be honest, it’s interesting. There’s a good selection of beers – not the biggest but reasonable, and always a tick or two for me! You can take the bottles away or enjoy them with one or two Jupiler drinking locals at the rear of the shop for no extra charge! Probably the cheapest place in Brugge to drink beer.

Cask Corner, Doncaster

Cask Corner, Doncaster

Cleveland Street, Doncaster
01302 366277
Mon – Sun 11 – close (varies between 11 and 1ish)

Derby has them, so does Sheffield. Even Birmingham! Doncaster has never really had a bar that’s had more than 4 or 5 real ales, apart from the the three Wetherspoons branches in the town, until a few months ago, Cask Corner opened.

Admittedly, they got off to a bit of a shaky start with the beers – probably selling far more than they thought. Now there’s 10 beers, including three from Toad Brewery (owned by same people as Cask Corner) along with two draught ciders and another one or two ciders direct from the barrel, 5 ‘proper’ lagers, 2 draught fruit beers and around 100 bottled beers that would rival any Belgian bar.

They don’t stock anything ‘mainstream’ which is always amusing when the uneducated come in and ask for a “Carling or something like that”.

Cask Corner don’t mind you bringing in your own food and there’s free wifi too!

Update: Toad Brewery are no longer in existence, fewer ciders are sold and the foreign selection is much smaller. There’s also loud music on many evenings.

Getting hold of Westvletern

Article copied from my other blog

4 simple steps to buying Westvleteren beer:

1) Visit http://www.sintsixtus.be/eng/brouwerijactueel.htm and see when the beer is available. It’s now shown in a coloured chart! Call the (+32 (0)70/21.00.45 at the time shown on the chart, but be prepared to wait and be persistent – I often try probably 30 or 40 times over a 2 1/2 hour period.

2) Drive to Westvleteren at the allotted time (usually in the week after the reservation day).

3) Collect the beer, pay the man and jump with joy.

4) Go across the road to In de Vrede and sample a glass of the beer you have just bought (not the actual ones you’ve bought but one of theirs!). Watch how it’s poured and take note of the temperature for when you get yours home. You might also be able to get the other beers in the shop, but this is limited to 6 bottles per person and is not always available. Be sensible if you’re driving – the beers are quite strong so I wouldn’t suggest doing both. The cheese they sell is also rather nice.

Glasses – make sure you buy a couple of glasses. A standard trappist glass will do, but I’m sure that the beer tastes better still from the right glass. The monastery sell them in boxes of 6 and In de Vrede individually.

Old beer

Some beers are promoted to taste better ‘fresh’. These tend to be the bland, tasteless factory produced rubbish.

On the other hand, some beers are better with age. My stash of Westvleteren is aging well at the moment with a case of 8 being just over 3 years old now.

Some bars feature aged beers – Kulminator in Antwerp have a fantastic list. Not so well advertised is the famous Delirium Cafe in Bruxelles – they have a number of older beers on their menu but are not advertised so – you just have to pick a beer that isn’t that common and hope it’s an older one.

This leads me on to a ‘find’ that Filip Geerts from Belgian Beer Board discovered. He was visiting the abbey at Westvleteren to collect some beer and stumbled across a case of really old Westvleteren 12. He managed to procure a couple of bottles.

After drinking one, he presented the other to a Vintage Tasting Event at Brugge Bier Festival the other week – more details here.

I was at the festival – if only I’d seen the info on his blog in enough time! *cry*!

Euro beer trip day 8 – Back to Cantillon

Is 15 minutes enough time to get from Bruxelles Midi to the Cantillon Brewery, buy beer and get back to the station? Yes if you’re mad.

Cantillon, Bruxelles / Brussel

Rue Gheude / Gheudestraat 56, Bruxelles / Brussel
Mon-Fri 08:30-17; Sat 10-17
025 21 49 28

Having heard of two new brews – Fou’Foune – which is not really new, but just doesn’t get brewed very often and because of the availability of the particular variety of apricots used, only a small batch is made. As well as this, a one off ‘Zwanze’ had been bottled – Mamouche. I’d already got some of the earlier batch of white beer Zwanze, but this one was brewed with elderflowers – and according to the label, all picked by hand.

As well as being able to buy beer, you can take a tour of the brewery, or ‘Museum of Gueuze’ as it’s also known.

Euro beer trip day 7 – 4de Brugs Bier Festival and a few bars in Brugge

After lunch at Eetcafe Leopold in ‘t Zand, we headed back to the Festival for our second shift. Both of us were allocated to security duties, so the drinking had to wait! As soon as our stint was over though, we had a good selection of beers to try before the festival closed.

Once again, we both enjoyed working. The guys from BAB (Brugse Autonome Bierproevers) made us more than welcome and hopefully will be back next year (if they’ll have us).

There were three bars I wanted to try before we went back to the hotel – @the Pub, old favourite ‘t Brugse Beertje and the spanking new Comptoir des Arts.

@the Pub

Hallenstraat 4, Brugge
Daily 17-03 (or later!)
0477 26 07 40

It’s quite a nice bar, with a ‘lounge bar’ feel to it with comfy settees and leather sofas etc. The beer list numbers around 100, although everyone seemed to be persuaded to have Malheur! Looking by the amount of Malheur tat around the place (beer mats, beer mat holders, signs…), he must have had rather a large job lot of the stuff!

Last time I visited, I had what could be probably classed more or less as home brew – there wasn’t any other name given for it! The owner brewed the beer at home and brought it to sell at the bar. Sadly, he’s not brewing at the current time.

I’ve heard a few reports about the rudeness of the staff. Indeed, I’ve encountered it, but there were no problems this time.

‘t Brugs Beertje

Kemelstraat 5, Brugge
Mon-Tue 16-01, Wed closed, Thu-Sun 16-02
050 33 96 16

At the top of their website, it says ”t Brugs Beertje, een speciaal bierhuis in het hart van Brugge !’ – which translates as ‘t Brugs Beertje, a special beerhouse in the centre of Brugge !’ – and they’re not wrong.

I’ll go into more detail on their next visit, but the excellent customer service from Daisy and her staff, the superb beer choice and the general ambience make this a ‘must do’ if you’re in Brugge, or even just Belgium – make a special trip!

I find it a little strange though that every time I go into ‘tBB, I’m greeted by name! I think I’ve been there a few too many times!

Comptoir des Arts

Vlamingstraat 53, Brugge
Daily 18-03, closed Tuesday
0494 38 79 61

You won’t find this bar in any of the guidebooks yet as it’s only been open barely a month! Situated just over the road from Poatersgat, this underground bar seems to just have that little ‘something’ that makes it special.

As we entered, I was greeted with a friendly “hello Lee” and a handshake by Bram – formerly of ‘t Brugs Beertje. The bar was busy, but had a sort of a quiet ambiance about it – there was gentle chatter in the air, but not overpowering and not raucous! It was just the right atmosphere to enjoy a 3 year old (although I suspect it was more) St Bernadus 8.