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Old 06-30-2008, 02:50 PM   #1
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Default Anyone been to Belgium? Need beer travel advice

I'm going to Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium this fall, probably OCT or NOV.
Looking for some advice on building the best 'beer itinerary'.
Even without any feedback, it shouldn't too hard to find good beer in Belgium!

So far, the following is planned (no particular order):
1. Cantillon Brewery (Lambics) in Brussels
2. Moortgart (Duvel) Brewery in Antwerp
3. Westmalle Trappist Monastery north of Antwerp
4. Finding and tasting all 7 Trappist ales in cafes or bars (Westmalle is the only one I think I'll be able to physically visit)
5. Generally staying 'under the influence' during my entire stay


What else should I do? Where else should I go in vicinity of these two cities?
Thanks


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Old 06-30-2008, 02:56 PM   #2
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A trip to Westvleteren Cafe? In De Verde? It's a bit of a hike from Brussels, but great scenery, and definately worth it. John Pierre at Cantillion is a great guy. Bug him for some of the gueze they made in colaboration with Sam from Dogfish. They put Amarillo hops in it, and wouldn't sell me any when I was there. They wanted to age it some more because the hops were too intense! Otherwise, there are tons of neat cafe's and sightseeing things to do to keep you busy. It was a blast and I can't wait to go back.


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Old 06-30-2008, 03:51 PM   #3
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I've been to Belgium a few times and you are right in your thinking, There is definitely no shortage of good beer to be had from sun up to sun down.

On a trip about 3 years ago or so, we visited 4 cities in 6 days. Brussels, Antwerpen, Brugge and Ghent. We took along a list compiled by our friend Don Scheidt. ''The Scheidt List'' is a compilation of some of the best beer bars in all of Belgium. We passed the list on to olllllo who used it on his most recent trip to Mecca.

The story of the list's origins is contained in the above post.

The next time I go, I will definitely rent a car so that I can get off the beaten path and visit some of the Abbey's and breweries outside of the major cities.

Cantillon is a must visit in Brussels and while Le Bier Circus is my favorite bar there, Delirium Cafe has over 2000 beers so, you're sure to be able to try most anything you want in that one location.

Be sure and hit the Kulminator while in Antwerpen.
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Old 06-30-2008, 04:16 PM   #4
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Great feedback!
Thanks for the guidance---seriously, you guys have made my itinerary!
I'll probably be there for around a week, so I should be able to cram most of those things in, as long as they're in the Brussels/Antwerp area.

My girlfriend will be with me, so she can be my designated driver if we rent a car. She's a good sport and puts up with my passion for beer.

I can't wait....
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Old 06-30-2008, 04:21 PM   #5
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The great thing about Belgium is, it's such a small country that you are never more than 40 minutes by train between any of the 4 cities I mentioned above. You can cover alot of ground in just a few days. We started drinking at 10am and didn't get in until 4am most days.

I also enjoyed the Genever bars. Particularly the one right next door to Bruges Beertje in Brugge.
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Old 06-30-2008, 04:36 PM   #6
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You do not need to rent a car IMO.

Brussels
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=39545

Antwerp
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=41320

Bruges
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=39697
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Old 06-30-2008, 04:40 PM   #7
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I think that the biggest challenge in doing this trip is finding something to eat that won't break your budget. Most of these beer bars are just that.... you can't order a burger to help you absorb any of the fine beers you are drinking. Some bars have free or low cost snacks like nuts of cheese -OR- they have full-on gourmet dinners.

Most of the food we got was steet food... frites, wafflles, etc.
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Old 06-30-2008, 07:40 PM   #8
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ollllo, if you have that PM saved that I sent you, can you forward it to Bald Head Brewer?
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Old 06-30-2008, 08:10 PM   #9
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I didn't see a reason to keep it secret...

Quote:
Off the beaten path for Brusefor food...and some tips.

Avoid bars/restaurants (with a few exceptions) immediately facing the Grand Place in Brussels. They are overpriced and mobbed with tourists. Take a walk one or two blocks off the G.P. and you will find great little bars with great beer, good food, and much less crowded. But, you knew that about the beer.

Especially avoid eating at any restaurant on the Rue de Boucher near the Grand Place—notorious for “bait and switch”, you can be seriously ripped off by these establishments even if you just go in for a drink or a quick bite. Besides there are so many great cafes not on the Rue de Boucher, why bother.

NOTE:
Tipping is generally included in the meal price unless menu specifically says otherwise, although we usually left a little change. Also, you must ask for the bill when you are ready to leave the restaurant or you will sit there all night waiting for them to bring it to you! This can be a good thing as you can quaff more beers. The Belgians never want to rush you through a meal, that is for sure. Gotta love ‘em!

In Brussels, off the beaten track but cool is the Place Jourdain district on the other side of the European Union buildings. On Sundays there is a huge open air food/flea market. Very cool, and no tourists! Also the best frites at the outdoor frites shop called Maison Antione. (they don’t serve beer, but you can take your frites to one of the outdoor cafes nearby and order a beer and eat your frites there!)

Brussels Eats:
Pain Le Quotidien—Chain restaurant, but with reasonably priced and really good sandwiches. There are several in Brussels as well as in other major cities.

Babeko 26 St Catherine Place. Upscale bistro for a “splurge” dinner. www.babeko.be


Brussels Bars we enjoyed: (most bars serve food)
A La Becasse, Rue Tabora 11 (this is really an alleyway) Near Grand Place. Look on the sidewalk for the carved bird. Crowded, long communal tables. Pitchers of Timmermans unsweetened lambic. Slabs of cold cheese, meat and bread if you are hungry.

In ‘t Spinnekopke Right by Mannekin Pis. Get the Kwak here!

Au Bon Vieux Temps , Rue du Marche aux Herbes 12. Old European bar, no English spoken here but you’ll be fine.

Le Cirio Rue de la Bourse 18. Surly waiters bit a very cool bar from the Victorian era. Drinks are a little pricey, but worth stopping in for one for the architecture.

Le Greenwich Rue des Chartreux #7. In St Gerys district about a ten minute walk from the Grand Place. I loved this bar—a quiet, smoky den of chess players. Very low key.
Cheap beers.

Toone Petite Rue Des Bouchers #21. Bar attached to famous puppet theater. Very interesting….


Daytrips

Ghent—big city, lots of cool canals. Dutch spoken here! Take the train there and then get a tram (tram station is in the tunnel next to train station)to the center of town (tram #1, 10, 11, 12, or 13) Check out medieval castle Gravenstein in the center city.

Bars:
Herberg de Dulle Griet Vrijdagmarkt 50. Ask to see the Beer List. It is excellent reading!

Brugges—touristy, but you will be going at a great time of year to avoid the hordes that flock here. Quaint is the best way to describe it. From the train station hop on any bus heading toward The Markt.

Check out: Climb the belfort in the Markt for a cool view.
If the weather is decent, take a canal tour.
In the Burg, check out the “Basilica of the holy blood”—the lower chapel is
very cool, 12th century Romanesque, the upper chapel is lavishly ornate.

Restaurant: Tavern Curiosa Vlamingstraat #22.—flying buttresses, good food, good beer, decent prices.
Passage Dweerstraat #26-28. Cool kinda art nouveau style bar. Good restaurant, too. Reasonable.

Bars: De Garre Garre #1 kinda hidden between the Markt and the Burg. Yummy. Crazy beer selection.

L’Estaminet Park#5. Across the street from my favorite park in Belgium Koningin Astrdipark, but kinda off the beaten path. Good food—sandwiches, stews. Good beer, very reasonable .

Herberg Vlissinghe Blekerstraat #2. Again, off the beaten path, oldest bar in Brugge (est. 1515)

Hope your having fun!

Glib
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:53 AM   #10
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Guys, thanks again for the help. With all the info (and first hand accounts) that you've armed me with, I should have quite a time! I'll be sure to provide feedback and pics when I return.
Reading all of this traffic is really getting me excited, but I've got a few months before I'll be there. I just like to read up ahead of time and be informed.

I was gonna buy the 'Good Beer Guide to Belgium', but after all this feedback I think I can probably figure out what to do and where to go without it?

Once again, thanks


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