De rubias por Bruselas
12 January, 2016
Belgium is a comparatively small land which has nevertheless made an inestimable contribution to the world of gastronomy – chips, waffles, chocolate and, very especially, beer. Here, over 450 varieties are made, whether by trusted traditional methods or using new technologies, yielding flavours that range from the classical to the most exotic. While the barley brew is a religion in Belgium, for beer enthusiasts Brussels is the hideout of some of the best taverns – and veritable places of pilgrimage – on the old continent.
A La Mort Subite
(Rue Montagne-aux-Herbes Potagères, 7)
Opened in 1910, A La Mort Subite is one of those spots oblivious to the passage of time. It boasts an exquisite beer selection, but I can recommend the one named after the establishment, Mort Subite, with its raspberry aroma. Its appearance and elegance on the palate have earned it the sobriquet of “the beer world’s pink champagne”.
(Impasse de la Fidélité, 4)
This is Brussels’ beer cellar par excellence, a must-visit place of pilgrimage for any beer toper worth his or her salt. It started off as a tiny cellar on the Impasse de la Fidélité, but today it has taken over most of the street. Here you will find the whole range, from typical Belgium abbey beers to exotic beverages from the outer reaches of the planet. They need loads of storage space to house the more than five thousand types of beer on offer.
(Rue de la Bourse, 18-20)
In the very heart of the Belgian capital, Le Cirio is located in the side street of the Bourse. Although not on account of its siting, the café is packed with guided tour parties. Le Cirio is a veritable institution in Brussels’ tavern guild. Rather than a venue for downing a pint, this spot, which still has its original centenary decor intact, is the ideal place for trying local cuisine, washed down – naturally – with a good indigenous beer.
(Rue du Chêne, 5)
Hanging from its flea-market-like ceiling you will find anything from puppets to lavatory seats. Le Poechenellekelder is undoubtedly one of the bars with the most character in Brussels. This small venue, ideally located next door to the famous Manneken Pis, has a sizeable variety of mainly Trappist beers, crafted for the most part by monks.
Le Roy d’Espagne
(Grand Place, 1)
A seat on the terrace in the Grand Place is a privileged vantage point for viewing the bustle of the city. If, in addition, you are savouring steamed mussels, a helping of chips and, for instance, a 9° proof Chimay Bleue grand reserve, the experience is complete. The proposal might conjure up images of a rubberneck in flip-flops and socks, but there are certain pleasures one cannot – or should not – pass up, as clichéd or hackneyed as they may be.
(Place Fontainas, 8)
Pils, Trappists, triples, doubles, wittes, IPAs, pale ales, stouts… you will find them all in the Moeder Lambic, a stunning place with its 40 taps arrayed behind an endless bar counter. While you’re there, make sure to try the beer they make themselves in a brewery just two blocks away. Fermented in the open air, the fruity taste of their Moeder Lambic Original is highly seductive.
(Rue du Lombard, 25)
A small brasserie always packed with locals, an unmistakeable sign of success. They offer excellent cuisine at more than reasonable prices and an array of beers that will meet the expectations of even the most seasoned beer connoisseurs. This is one of the hidden gems all cities seem to have, but guard the secret jealously!
(Rue du Marché aux Herbes, 66)
Our route ends with what is likely the quaintest bar in Brussels. The Toone, concealed between the buildings separating the Impasse de Sainte Pétronille from the Marché aux Herbes, is a brasserie which doubles as a puppet theatre. Between performances, customers drink amid puppets and a number of other fabled creatures.
The Belgian Beer Weekend is held the first weekend in September each year in Brussels’ Grand Place, where a host of brasseries sell their wares and regale visitors with activities relating to countless methods of brewing and different beer flavours.
Belgian Brewers Museum
The Maison des Brasseurs, a majestic stone building located in the Grand Place, is home to the Belgian Brewers Museum. It opens every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission costs 5 euros.
Brussels Beer Tours
Being highly specialised in beer, Brussels is understandably criss-crossed by an endless list of thematic tours of the city, notably Beertrips, Belgian Beer Me, Global Beer, Podge Beer and Bier Mania.
12 January, 2016