This is the 3rd installment of our Beery Adventures in Belgium. We visited Bruges, Gent, Mechelen, Antwerp & Brussels over 7 days, meeting with vendors for our beer tour company BonBeerVoyage.com. During our whirlwind week, we were able to visit over 50 beer related places and tried over 50 beers.
This entry focuses on the 3rd day of the trip. We finished our time in Bruges by visiting 3 more bottle shops, 3 more beer bars, a gourmet chocolate shop and a cigar shop which serves beer in its backroom bar.
The 1st bottle shop of the day was de Bier Tempel (7 Philipstockstraat).
A short walk from Cambrinus (see below) heading towards the Grote Market, you will spot this bottle shop on the right side of the street. They have a nice section of beers as well as glassware at competitive prices. I wasn’t planning to buy any beer today, but when I spied a bottle of Rodenbach Vin de Céréale, I couldn’t resist. It is a Flanders Red Ale at 10% abv, which was only bottled once. Since I was already going to make a purchase, I also picked out a bottle of Catherine The Great, which is brewed by Brouwerij Smisje. It is a Belgium Imperial Stout, aka Foreign/Export Stout and is 10.0% abv.
It was still early in the day, but not too early for a beer, so we walked to De Kuppe (19 Kuipersstraat) as I knew they opened early. As the sign says on the window, they have about 100 beers to choose from including De Dolle Oerbier, my choice for that morning. Oerbier is a Belgium Strong Dark Ale at 9.5% abv. brewed by De Dolle Brouwers.
Since it was only around 11:30 am on a Monday, not too many other bars were open. We took a chance and walked 4 ½ blocks to ‘t Poatersgat (82 Vlamingstraat), but they were closed.
‘t Poatersgat is a cellar bar, with a stellar beer list!!! They have over 100 beers to choose from. Although we didn’t have the chance to enjoy it this time, the inside is a lot larger than you might expect from looking at the door. It is like a large cave with very tall ceilings. Since it is just outside the “main” section of town, it usually is not as crowded with tourists.
After seeing ‘t Poatersgat closed, we then looked across the street to see that De Zolder (53 Vlamingstraat), was also closed. This is a fairly new place and like ‘t Poatersgat is located in a cellar setting. They have about 60 different beers to choose from on their menu.
Since we were striking out on our beer hunting expedition, we decided to try another bottle shop and then head out to find the most unique chocolate shop in town.
We walked around the corner from ‘t Poatersgat to get to Bacchus Cornelius (17 Academiestraat). This is a very upscale bottle shop, with has a very comfy sitting area with a fireplace in the back room. They carry over 450 different beers as well as glassware. We ended up buying Advokaat which is a thick yellow pudding like liquor. It is a blend of egg, sugar and brandy; it is very delicious and is 22% abv. You can eat it with a spoon like a pudding or pour it over ice cream.
Off of Steenstraat is a square called Simon Stevinplein. In this square you will find both Jerry’s Cigar Bar (13 Simon Stevinplein) and The Chocolate Line ( 19 Simon Stevinplein).
In Jerry’s Cigar Bar you can find cigars, if one indulges in such, and about 13 beers or other apéritifs which can be enjoyed in the bar in the back of the shop or on the square.
The real treat to be found on Simon Stevinlpein is The Chocolate Line.
In The Chocolate Line you will find the most amazing chocolate shop. Even Keith Richards has shopped here. They have a very unique line of chocolates, including some made with basil, sun dried tomato and olive oil! Yes, it sounds bizarre, but somehow it works.
The largest bottle shop in town is 2be (53 Wollestraat). This is an extremely large shop. On display between the front entryway and the bar in the back you will see the “Wall of Beers”. This is an amazing display of almost all the beers of Belgium with the matching glassware, a real must see for beer geeks. On the top floor of the shop you have many different chocolates and other Belgian specialties including some of their beer collection. Downstairs you will find the rest of this huge beer selection with appropriate glasses for sale next to their respective beers.
In the back you have an inside bar and an outside area overlooking the canal to have a beer. It is especially atmospheric in the evenings or on a nice afternoon…or anytime, heck you are in the most beautiful city in Belgium, drinking the best there is to offer, what more could you ask for?
One of the best places in town to grab a great lunch with a huge selection of beers to choose from is Bierbrasserie Cambrinus (19 Philipstockstraat). At Cambrinus you will find a beer menu which has over 400 beers and a food menu full of cuisine a la bière.
Ruth and I both had their Flemish Carbonades, which is a beef stew prepared with Gulden Draak and served with applesauce. I paired mine with a Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait, this was a 2004 vintage and is brewed by Brouwerij Boon , this Gueuze is 8.00% abv. Ruth had the Gulden Draak, which one of her favorite beers. Gulden Draak is a Belgium Strong Dark Ale and brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Next in this series we will explore what Gent has to offer…stay tuned!