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.