Trappists, Abbeys and Lambics, Oh My!
I almost decided to nix this post because you can find amazing beer in Belgium just about anywhere you stop. From the street cafes to the dedicated brew houses, there is no shortage of amazing beer. I ventured into several of the street cafes and opted for a beer flight or asked the bartender for his favorite. Chances are, you will be introduced to something spectacular. I've highlighted a few of the standouts that I enjoyed and recommend they be added to your Brussels itinerary.
Delirium : I may or may not have walked past this bar multiple times before I realized where it was. (Truth: Totally directionally challenged) If you are only going to squeeze one of these bars in, I would recommend this one. Delirium has over 2000 beers from around the globe and some of the best hidden treasures of Belgium that aren't easily accessible. While vast in size, no matter where you begin your adventure, you will feel right at home. The bar is adorned with beer trays and signs from around the world just adding that much more personality to the bar.
I started upstairs in the taproom, honestly because I was so excited to find it and I wanted a beer immediately. SO MANY TAPS. Again, wanting to maximize my time and allow my taste buds the most excitement possible, I ordered a flight and let the bartender do the choosing. While each beer varied in alcohol content and flavor, they were all amazing. Of course, I asked the 64,000,000 dollar question: Which beer do I absolutely HAVE to try before I head back to the United States? Some people get totally annoyed with this question, but I have found more times than not, people genuinely like sharing their favorites. Without hesitation, he wrote a beer on a coaster and told me to take it downstairs. He also threw in there that they only get about 12 of these beers every few months, so I would be lucky to grab one. Downstairs I went and handed the coaster to the next bartender. He looked at me and then at the coaster again and said, " You're in luck, we actually have a couple left in stock." Thank you, universe. The beer gods were smiling upon me. What was this magical beer you ask? It was a Belle-Fleur by Brouwerij De Dochter van de Korenaar. I can't even begin to explain how amazing this IPA tasted. At first glance, it appears to be a lighter blonde beer, but once you jump into the flavor profile, citrus and floral notes are prevalent. I only wish I could have brought a six-pack home. While I spent most of my remaining time downstairs in the bottle room, there was one other area that focused more on spirits. I didn't have a chance to make it in but based on my experience in the other sections, I'm sure you can't go wrong.
Moeder Lambic: Yet another must for beer enthusiasts, Moeder Lambic has a wide variety of beers, especially sours. Having two locations, I visited the newest one which is a quick 10-minute walk from Grand Place. If the weather is nice, I would recommend sitting outside in the cafe seating, otherwise, pull up a stool and hang at the bar ( which is what I love to do regardless of the weather). Seeing as I just finished the tour of Cantillon Brewery, I opted to have one a beer from one of their "Guests on Tap." Staying true to my southern heritage, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have Imperatrice Bourbon ( Yes, I know it wasn't a Belgian beer) Hints of chocolate notes hit your nose and after a few seconds, the bourbon hits your palate. Total home run, if you ask me. The bartenders are incredibly friendly and if you make it in time, they often have beer tastings in the room upstairs.
Cantillon Brewery: I know. This brewery needs no explanation as it is considered the holy grail among beer enthusiasts. As any enthusiast would, I made the pilgrimage to Cantillon. Only a mile or so from Grand Place, it's a totally walkable destination. As we approached the brewery, I was completely caught off guard. I expected something a little more grandiose, after all, it is one of the most sought-after beers in the world. It was tucked away on a side street with little signage. One of the main reasons I stumbled upon it was largely due to the fact that there was a huge bus parked in front. I found the correct, un-marked door and made my way into the brewery. I approached the desk, paid my 7 Euros and began my self-guided tour. I wandered around the brewery with my pamphlet trying to take it all in. While I enjoy going at my own pace, a guided tour would have been preferred. So, I hit the highlights and off to the tasting room I went. The gentleman serving the beer was a bit grumpy and insisted that I try the beers in a particular order: Gueze and then Kriek. While I admit, I am usually not the biggest fan of lambic beers, as they are often too sour for my taste, I did enjoy the Kriek. So much so, that I purchased a bottle to bring home.
Belgium, you lived up to all the hype. I can safely say I had some of the best beers of my life. From the historic Cantillon brewery to the Brussels Beer Project, I applaud you and your beer. Salu!