We have included Brussels in our itinerary for two reasons: Beer and Beer, oops, I mean chocolate. Brussels is a beautiful city, we are staying in a cool B&B type place, but really we are here to get Belgian beer directly from the source. Brussels is a town with pubs, beer stores and chocolate shops everywhere you look.
We actually ate both lunch and dinner in pubs yesterday and although we enjoyed our visit to the MIM (Musical instrument Museum)
the highlight of our stay is the pub crawl. We meet our big, blonde, brawny, Belgian tour guide in front of the Godiva Chocolate store in the Gran Place at 2pm.
We are 16 soon to be very happy and very chummy people who share only a love of beer. We will visit 5 obscure pubs and taste 8 (mostly high alcohol) beers during a 4 hour period. Most of us are having such a good time that we end up having dinner, and after dinner drinks (really – more drinking?) together because we just don’t want the fun to end. But I digress, let’s talk about the beers. Our first beer is Orval, this is a Trappist beer with an alcohol content of 6.2%.
Six of the eleven Trappist breweries are in Belgium. Without going into the history of monasteries who brew and sell beer, lets just say that the Trappists generously give much of their profits to charity, thereby making the buying and drinking of beer seem like an act of doing good. We have never had Orval before – notice the fancy goblet. Belgians always like the glass to match the beer so it tastes just right. Our next stop features 2 tastings – they are not in the correct glassware. We are told it’s difficult to have enough of the smaller tasting size glasses (4-6 ounces) so we forgive. We’ve placed the correct bottles beside for the photos.
The St. Feullien Grand Cru is a 9.5% strong ale with a beautiful golden color that we will try to find stateside. The oldest trappist beer is the unfiltered Westmalle Tripel, also coming in at 9.5%.
We have moved on to our third pub for the next 2 beers.
and we take a little break with a 5.0% Bourgagne of Flanders which is from Brugge.
We are halfway through our tastings and feeling pretty good. These beers are chosen for us by our tour guide. They are some of the lesser known Belgian beers that he really likes. Next up is a 10% Malheur it’s golden and you really can’t taste the alcohol which can be very dangerous.
I think my first hiccups started on the walk to pub number 4 and our first quad of the day. One of Roger’s favorites is the St. Bernardus Abt 12 and it does not disappoint.
The frites come at a good time also.
We’ve got 2 more beers and one more pub and I have the hiccups again and I can barely feel my face! But somehow I do remember how good the Carolus tripel (9%) was.
The night before I enjoyed the Carolus classic which was recommended by a surly beertender at the Poechenellekelder puppet bar. While I was savoring the flavor I was saying it was better than a fine wine. We will be searching for Carolus from this point foward. Finally, and although last this was certainly NOT least, we combined a salty caramel chocolate with an 11.3% Bourbon Trappist Rochefort 10.
Wow, even though the hiccups are coming back soon and the headache/hangover will happen before bed, the taste sensation is incredible and I will happily pay the price in the coming hours.
Coming next, Amsterdam…Bourbon street on steroids…what a city!