beer reviews Belgium

Actually in Bruges

We’ve just come back from a long overdue weekend in Bruges. Summary: why have we been settling for Brussels for so long when a city this beautiful and this friendly was only another hour away?

On Friday, after a longer-than-necessary train journey (Eurostar’s been up the creek since the big train crash near Brussels a few weeks ago) we were ready for a beer, and so went straight to Cambrinus Bierbrasserie. It was cosy, busy and with a huge menu of well-chosen beers. As one punter said to us: “You English guys like beer, right? Well good luck because here, we got four hundred of ’em!”

They have two house beers, blond and bruin, which both tasted like bang-on exemplars of those ‘styles’. They weren’t challenging, but nor were they at all unpleasant. How do the Belgians do it so effortlessly?

Next we moved on to offerings from De Struise, appealing both because of the reputation of the brewer and the need for something coming in at under 6% to keep us in the game. Kloeke Blonde had that dusty hop flavour we associate with Poperings Hommelbier, but was slightly sour, and very interesting too. Struise Witte certainly wasn’t a Hoegaarden clone — it had pear and/or pear drop flavours, and was also rather dry.

And, finally, Pannepot was flavour of the month a year or so ago. Late to the party, as ever, we decided to give the 2008 edition a go. Wowzers. This was like a very fruity stout with an intense, slick creaminess and no sharp corners at all, despite its strength (10%).  Proper dessert beer and a great way to wrap up a long day.

There’s more on Bruges to follow in the next week or so.

8 replies on “Actually in Bruges”

Jealous! Was meant to go the day after the train crash during my half-term break (I’m a teacher) but the crash put a stop to that. Now doing Bruges and Brussels in April, so look forward to your views (I went last year).

Really precious city, and of course plenty of excellent belgian beers. I hope you visited the famous tavern De Garre to taste their Tripel, it’s a must!

PS: I just remembered that weird comedy, In Bruges. Funny movie ­čÖé

I’ll be in Bruges next week after a couple of days in Brussels – my first time in either. Can’t wait – will definately check out Cambrinus, also been reading about de Garre…

It has been a while since I’ve been to Bruges, but it is a wonderful place with some of the nicest cafes in Belgium

We loved Bruges. I was expecting a load of second-rate tourist trap boozers in a tacky hellhole but instead found a proper, working town and De Garre. Can’t wait to go back.

I was in Belguim for a long weekend in January. I specifically went to sample the lambics, many of which are not available in Britain (and certainly not the draught) but also tried other beers.

What disappointed me the most was the standard of bar staff; few of them know how to pour a glass of beer, certainly not a bottle conditioned beer. They insisted that the most important part of the beer was the head, and would hold the bottle about a foot above the glass as they poured. As a result you get only half the bottle in the glass, the rest of the bottle is full of cloudy rubbish that you have to throw away. In addition the beer is usually too cold, in spite of the brewer putting a recommended temperature on the label of something between 12 and 15 degrees.

Jonathan — for a weekend visit, De Garre and Cambrinus will probably do the job, but there are also quite a few decent, pleasant looking bars/pubs outside the town centre which we’ll aim to visit next time.

Drayman — we were quite impressed with the staff at De Garre. They were a bit po-faced, but there was some fairly expert pouring, and they tended to give us the bottle half full so we could decide ourselves what to do about yeast.

Geoff — drank plenty of Brugse Zot, but not at the brewery (although we did poke our head in). Next time!

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