Although I am not a beer fan, when in Brussels tasting beer and visiting some of its old drinking houses and breweries is a must that is if you have the courage to go Belgian style “pub crawl” all day till you drop. From beer shops, beer museums to drinking houses, Brussels is the place to hang around to taste these various and traditional flavoured beers. Most of café are in central Brussels especially around the Grand Place where a number of the historic ones are located. You can start the historic beer walk from Metropole hotel at the Place de Brouckere – its luxuriously decorated grand café was one of the many properties owned by the famous Brussel’s brewery Wielemans-Ceuppens known for its popular production of the low fermentation Germanic Pils beer. Then head towards Wolvengracht to see the impressive 18th century Belga Queen once a hotel and former bank, then walk towards the magnificently decorated A La Mort Subite right opposite the Royal Galleries. Stop by at Impasse de la Fidelite off the reputed and crowded “food street” rue des bouchers and take a peak at Delirium village noticeable with its pink elephant sign before heading towards the Grande Place and Bourse with its many historic drinking places. Plenty of choice here, such as A la Becasse located at the end of a passageway where you can still drink Lambic beers from Timmermans brewery served in traditional stone jugs. Other historic beer house is le Cirio with its array of Trappist beer – these “monk” beverages are still being brewed at the monasteries. This lovely place with a nice terrace once a delicatessen owned by Franceso Cirio, is another a must visit even if it is only to see the beautiful 19th century interior decoration. Stop by Toone a typical “estaminet” with wooden benches, also a Puppet Theater located just behind the Grand Place and watch some puppet performances while enjoying a glass of beer ! Then head towards the Manneken Pis and right in front of it, is the popular Poeche-Nellenkelder where you can sit in a typical ambiance and enjoy some great dishes with a large beer menu, come early or late as this popular place gets lots of visitors.
Should you still have legs to carry on and a sober head, there are more beer bars to discover with lovely Belle Epoque and Art deco decoration like the Greenwich, Archiduc and In’T Spinnekopke at the Place du jardin aux fleurs – this is a typical café housed in a former building that was once used in 1792 as resting place for post coaches. Another try out is Nuetnigenough along rue du Lombard to taste some of their cooking made with beer. Continue the walk towards Place Fontainas and relax at Moeder Lambic café serving great local artisan beers – perhaps not one of those famous brands but good quality products and one of the best place to discover smaller breweries such as Cantillon and Brasserie de la Senne. The decor is contemporary and always popular with beer fans. My organic Dupont Honey Beer (Dupont also produces Gueuze cheese made by blending beer and milk) and Cantillon saucisson made with beer are just a sheer delight and I would certainly come back.
Decoration of beer cafés and shops around the Grand Place
And bottles of beers and Kriek fruit flavoured Belgian beers …
Beer trailing in Brussels will not be complete until you visit Cantillon Brewery famous for its artisan made Lambic beers still using machines dating back to 19th century. This family run brewery began in 1900 now still in the hands of the same family produces some great beers using the traditional method of spontaneous fermentation through wild yeast and bacteria to obtain the unique taste (Lambic) Wheat, malted barley and hops basic ingredients of beer are usually brewed in the winter (October through April), placed in vats after cooling to be poured into oak barrels for fermentation. A visit to the brewery is certainly a must. Entering the brewery located not far from Brussel’s Midi station, you will be welcomed by members of the family either Jean, Julie or Jean-Pierre Van Roy, who will explain their family brewery and process of beer making. The Gueuze beer and fruit flavoured Lambic beers are a must try, such is Kriek – a blend of Lambic with Schaerbeek sour cherries, Rosé de Gambrinus mixed with rasberries or the Muscat grapes Vigneronne and the apricot blend Lambics.