This is the 2nd in the series of our review of our recent beer trip to 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 our 2nd day of the trip, while we were in Bruges. On this day we visited 1 bottle shop, 5 bars, 1 brewery & finished the night off dining in an award winning restaurant known for their cuisine a la bière.
Bruges has many bottle shops to buy beer & beer related glassware, today we visited The Bottle Shop (Wollestraat 13).
The Bottle Shop has a very large selection of beers to choose from and a very good assortment of glassware. Above I have shown only 3 of the many walls of beer. If you do buy here, they do a great job of packing up your beer/glassware safely, which is key if you plan on packing it in your checked in luggage.
On Breidelstraat, the street connecting the Burg & the Grote Market, there is a very small alley way (De Garre) which leads to 2 bars. You can very easily walk right by if you’re not paying attention. You’ll spot what looks like a doorway and has the word Cookie’s written on the glass pane above the alley entrance.
In the very back of this alleyway is Cookie’s (2 De Garre). If you are in the mood for tapas, hot or cold, stop in for a bite and maybe even a beer. The beer menu is very limited, they had 4 beers on tap (Jupiler, Keizer Karel Blond, Brugse Zot Blond & Brugse Zot Bruin & 8 bottle beers, nothing which you can’t find back in the USA, Duvel, Tripel Karmeliet, Orval, Chimay blue, Westmalle dubbel & tripel and Rochefort 10, all bottles were 3.50 euro except for Rochefort which was 4.80 & the Mystic Kriek at 2.30.
The gem in this alley is Staminee De Garre (1 De Garre). It is a little bar, with a very nice atmosphere and 135 bottled beers. If you’re lucky, you might run into the guy in the top hat (above), who was whistling songs. If it is crowded downstairs, head up the narrow staircase to a larger room upstairs. If you’re only going to have 1 beer, the beer to try here is the House Tripel, which is brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge. It is a Tripel and 8% abv and you will not be disappointed! They serve your beer with a small plate of cheese.
The closest bar to the Belfry (Belfort) Tower is @ The Pub (4 Hallenstraat). They have a nice selection of about 100 beers. See menu above. In @ the Pub you have 2 seating areas inside- as you enter to the left is the bar area and to the right is a lounge area. If the weather is nice you can sit outside and enjoy your beer as well.
Eetcafe Leopold (26 ‘t Zand) is located across from the tourist information office. Besides having 8 different types of Croque’s, which are very tasty, they have a fairly nice beer list of about 40 bottles.
Shown above are 4 of them, Kasteel Bruin, Kasteel Tripel, Westmalle Triple & Tripel Karmeliet. The notices written (in Dutch, French & German respectively) on the cigar sign translate to: smoke is deadly, smoke kills & smoke is deadly.
Brouwerij De Halve Mann / Brouwerij Straffe Hendrik (26 Walplein). This is the only brewery within Bruges. It is less than a half mile walk from the train station. They give a guided tour of the brewery and museum which last about 45 minutes and cost 5.50 euros. It is a very entertaining tour and in the museum you will see among other things a huge collection of old metal beer cans and vintage beer glasses. The tour is well worth the price of admission, plus it includes a tasting of Bruges Zot.
Brugse Zot, was poured from the tap. It is a Belgium Pale Ale and is 6.0%abv.
Straffe Hendrik Brugs Tripel Bier, is a 9% abv Tripel.
‘t Brugs Beertje (5 Kemelstraat) is just 250 yards from the Grote Market off Steenstraat. It is my favorite bar in Bruges. Not only do they have a fantastic beer menu, but the service is great and it is a wonderful place to meet and mingle with locals and other beer enthusiasts. We only had time to stop by and say hello to Daisy, the owner and have 1 beer, which was Gouden Carolus Noël. This is a Belgium Strong Dark Ale of 10.5% abv and is brewed by Brouwerij Het Anker
For dinner we went to Den Dyver (5 Dijver) which is known for its cuisine a la bière. They received the 2009 Gold Medal Beer & Gastronomy Award from Bierpassie, Ambiance Magazine & Maxwell Williams. At Den Dyver you have the choice of ordering a la carte or choosing from their 3, 4 or 5 course menus. The 3, 4 or 5 course meals can be paired with either beer or wine and are actually cooked in the paired beer. My wife had the 3 course meal & beer pairing & I went for the 4 course.
We started off with an aperitif, mine was the House Pale Ale, unknown abv & brewer. Ruth had the house aperitif, which was a hopped up champagne.
For appetizers, I had the swordfish steak with an anchovy crust which was paired with Blanche de Hainaut Biologique, a Witbier with a5.5% abv. This was brewed by Brasserie Dupont sprl. Ruth had the duck confit which was paired with Struise Rosse, vintage 2007, 6.0% abv. This is a Belgian Pale Ale brewed by De Struise Brouwers. Both were perfect pairings.
For the main course we both had the duck paired with the Westmalle Tripel, which is a Tripel with a 9.5% abv. This is brewed by Adbij der Trappsten van Westmalle (Brouwerij Westmalle). The Westmalle was a good match for the duck.
For dessert, my wife had an assortment of cheese which was paired with Het Kapittel Pater brewed by Brouwerij Van Eccke, it is a Belgian Dark Ale,6.00 % abv. As usual, the beer was a great pairing for the cheese-and Ruth wondered “Why did we ever waste time pairing wine with cheese in the past?”
I had a pear strudel with Fourme d’ ambert, a French cheese which was paired with Bink Winterkoninkske, Belgium Dark Strong Ale with an 8.3%abv made by Brouwerij Kerkomj. This was an incredible combination, probably the highlight of the evening.
To end the evening of beer and food bliss I had a fig cake with almond cream.
The service was excellent. The son of the owner is the beer/wine sommelier, and presented each beverage with an explanation and a proper pour. There were separate waiters and bus people, so we were very well taken care of. The atmosphere is upscale yet relaxed. We are looking forward to returning with our tour group in October.
Coming up next in this series we will finish our time in Bruges by visits to 3 more bottle shops, 3 more beer bars, a gourmet chocolate shop and a cigar shop which serves beer in its backroom bar. Then we’ll head off to Gent.