Beer Travels in Belgium Part 4 (Gent)

This is the 4th installment of our Beery Adventures in Belgium.  We visited Bruges, Gent, Mechelen, Antwerp & Brussels over 7 days, meeting with vendors for our beer travel company, BonBeerVoyage.com.  During our whirlwind week, we were able to visit over 50 beer related places and tasted over 50 different beers.

With Bruges behind us, we are now going to focus on Gent.  During our 2 nights and 1 day in Gent we visited 9 bars, discovered a new brewery and tasted 13 different beers.

De Dulle Griet at night

De Dulle Griet bar

 

Our 1st visit was to De Dulle Griet (50 Vrijdagmarkt).   De Dulle Griet is a cool, quirky bar which you will find on the square called Friday Market (Vrijdagmarkt in Dutch).   The bar is named after a very famous medieval supergun from Gent.  You can see this large red canon on display just outside the Friday Market on the canal front.  Dulle Griet has over 250 beers to choose from,  including their famous “The Max” which is Kwak from Brouwerij Bosteels poured into a Kwak Yard Glass.

Ceiling Shoe Basket in De Dulle Griet

 As you may know, these glasses are not cheap, so in order to deter sticky fingered visitors from making them into souvenirs, patrons ordering “The Max” must take off one of their shoes as collateral.  The shoes is then put into a basket and hoisted to the ceiling by a pulley system.  When the glass is returned, so is the shoe! This bar can get crowded, so as a courtesy to your fellow imbibers, if you plan to have a Kwak, wear your odor eaters, please! 

Malheur 12 at De Dulle Griet

Ruth starts off her night with a Rochefort 10

After searching the packed pub both upstairs and down and not finding a seat in the house, Ruth & I were fortunate enough to be invited by another couple, on a holiday from Holland, to share the next available table.   I started my night off with a Malheur 12, which is a Quadruple and 12% abv from Brouwerij De Landtsheer NV .  Ruth started with a  Rochefort 10, also a Quadruple at 11.3% abv from  Brasserie de Rochefort (Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy).   After we finished our Quadruples, we said goodbye to our new Dutch friends and left to check out one more pub before heading off to dinner.

Den Trollekelder

As we walked to Café Den Trollekelder (17 Bij Sint-Jacobs) we heard what sounded like a jazz band practicing nearby.  So as I went to check out Den Trollekelder, Ruth went to track down where the great music was coming from. 

Den Trollekelder's troll window

Den Trollekelder's troll window

The 1st thing I saw upon approaching Den Trollekelder were all the trolls in the window.  The 2nd thing I noticed was the beer list hanging in the window, at a quick glance it appeared they had about 150 beers.  Great list, now to find a seat.  As I entered I noticed how empty the place looked.   I walked through the 2 levels and the only person I saw was the bartender.   I thought this was strange, given the fact of how crowded Dulle Griet had been and how good the beer menu looked.    I headed back out the door to find Ruth who hadn’t appeared in this troll den yet.

Trefpunt

I saw her standing next door in front of Trefpunt (18 Bij Sint-Jacobs) talking to an elder man with a small plaid shopping cart.   The stranger my wife was chatting it up with was Coen, a local artist and poet.   He apparently carries all his poetry in that shopping cart.  He confirmed that the jazz band we heard would be playing shortly in Trefpunt, which is a music and theater café.   We went in & found a couple of seats at the bar near the stage.    They have a small beer list of 6 beers on tap and 18 bottled.  We both managed to find a something to our liking.

Mike & Ruth toast with an Orval & Rochefort 8 in Trefpunt

Ruth stayed with Rochefort and this time ordered a Rochefort 8, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 9.2% abv from  Brasserie de Rochefort. I matched her Trappist with an Orval, a Belgian Pale Ale.  It is 6.90% abv and brewed by Brasserie d’Orval S.A.  

Coen and Ruth got into a conversation about everything from the French Poetry to Bob Dylan. This was followed by her attempt at interpreting his Flemish reading of one of his poems, (the Rocheforts obviously somehow endowed her with translating superpowers).  By the time the band started to play we were starving so after the first set we headed out in search of dinner.  

Aba Jour

Board welcoming you into Aba Jour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to the beer enthusiasts’ restaurant Aba-Jour (20 Oudburg) which serves Italian & Belgian fair.   Aba-Jour had 6 beers on tap, 55 bottled plus 10 specials on their menu board including Vin de Céréale and Stille Nacht 2003.

Rochefort 6 in Aba Jour

Drie Founteine Oude Geuze in Aba Jour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we waited to be seated for dinner, we sat at the bar and Ruth went for a Rochefort trifecta and ordered the Rochefort 6, which is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 7.5% Abv from  Brasserie de Rochefort.   I went with Drie Founteine Oude Geuze,  a 6.0% abv which is a Gueuze from Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen

Cantillon's Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio in Aba Jour

With my spaghetti dinner I stayed in the Gueuze family and ordered Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio,  a 5.0% Gueuze from Brasserie Cantillon.

 

Ruth holding a haiku by Coen

Above is a Haiku, written that evening for us by Coen (Coenraed de Waele ) with one of the 7 or so pens he had in his jacket pocket for such occasions.  (For those of you not familiar with Haiku, it is a Japanese form of poetry written in 3 lines, the 1st line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables and the 3rd line has 5 syllables.) This is what it says.

 Hear close harmony.

Some Americans in town.

My mind runs open.

                        By Coenraed de Waele

 The next morning and early afternoon we spent touring around Gent.  During our rounds we came across 2 beer bars, which were unfortunately closed at that time of the day.  

 

Het Verdronken Land

The 1st one was Het Verdronken Land (57 Steendam) which is a tapasbar.   They have about 50 beers on their list and is only a short walk N.E. from Den Trollekelder.

 
 
 
 

Delirium Café

Delirium Café entrance

The 2nd beer bar which was closed was Delirium Café , (2 Klein Turkije).   The Delirium’s entrance would lead you to their basement bar.  This is the sister bar of the famous Delirium Café in Brussels, but is has nowhere near the 2000 beers you will find in Brussels.  It does, however, have an impressive 150 beers on its menu.      

Gruut in the Christmas Market

While we walked thru the Christmas Market we came upon a booth promoting a new brewery in town named Gruut.   We had a sample of their Belgian Amber Ale which is, as the name says an Amber Ale at 6.6% abv.  We found the beer, the way it was made and the beer glass all very interesting, so we inquired about the Brewery.  Once we found out it was about a half mile away, we headed off to see…

Gruut Gentse Stadsbrouwerij

Entrance to Gruut

Gruut Gentse Stadsbrouwerij (10 Grote Huidevettershoek) is a Hop-less brewery.  The head brewer a female.   They currently make 4 beers, a Wit Beer 5%abv; a Blond 5.5% abv; an Amber Ale 6.6% abv and a Bruin 8% which at the time was in production but not bottled yet.  

Gruut's Amber, Blond & Wit bottles

Gruut is the name of a medieval mixture of spices and herbs used to make beer instead of using hops.  Gruut was also the name of the local currency in the middle ages which was used to pay the taxes on the amount of Gruut used.  

 

Gruut

Gruut

Gruut

Here at Gruut they use modern equipment and brewing techniques in the old-fashioned tradition.

The bar/brewery/tasting room is very modern and nice.  And it’s worth the visit just to see the restrooms…

Gruut's Mens room

Gruut's Blond & Wit with some snacks

With a snack of hard cheese and salami, Ruth enjoyed the Belgium Wit Beer and while I had their Belgium Blond.

 

‘t Gouden Mandeke entrance

A peek inside ‘t Gouden Mandeke

A peek inside Gouden Mandeke

The walk back into town from Gruut made us thirsty so we stopped off at ‘t Gouden Mandeke (9 Pensmarkt) for a beer.   This was a quaint bar with baskets hanging along the beams of the ceiling.  They were very crowded and there was no place to sit, not even at the bar.  A quick peek at the beer menu revealed that they had about 50 beers, a good selection, but nothing we couldn’t find elsewhere in town. With a thought of a later return visit, we headed off to find a place where we could sit and enjoy a beer.  

‘t Galgenhuisje

We walked to the end of the block to ‘t Galgenhuisje (5 Groentenmarkt).  This is the smallest bar in Gent.  The location was where they used to hang people, hence its name “the Gallows House”.  They had 4 beers on tap and 14 bottled beers.   They made up for the small beer list with a great atmosphere.   Amazingly enough, a couple was leaving as we arrived so we were able to grab one of the few tables that fit into this doll house sized pub.

Ruth & Mike toast in ‘t Galgenhuisje with a Westmalle Triple & Gentse Tripel

I had the Gentse Tripel, which is an 8.0% abv Tripel from the Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.  Ruth drank a Westmalle triple, which is a 9.50% abv Tripel from Brouwerij Westmalle (Adbij der Trappisten van Westmalle).   We meet a great couple sitting at the table next to us.  After a while of chatting across our tables, we invited them to join us at our table, which made for an easier conversation.  And opened up a table for another group!

‘t Galgenhuisje with our new friends

She is a native of Gent and he is also a native from Gent, but he now lives in Canada a few months out of the year.   We enjoyed their company so much that after we finished our drinks here the four of us walked across the street to…

 
 
Het Waterhuis Aan De Bierkant

Het Waterhuis Aan De Bierkant  (9 Groentenmarkt).  Waterhuis is wonderful bar, if the weather is nice you can grab some grub and a beer outside while enjoying the canal view and people watching.  Inside it is a two story bar with a casual atmosphere.   They have an excellent beer menu; that night they had 16 beers on tap and over 150 bottled.   

I drank a Oud Beersel Oude Gueze Vieille , a 6% abv Gueuze which is brewed by Brouwerij Oud Beersel,  Ruth had the N’ice Chouffe, which is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 10% abv.  This is a Christmas beer made from by the Brasserie d’Achouffe which was van ‘t vat (from the tap). 

Oud Beersel Oude Gueze Vieille

N’ice Chouffe

 

Waterhuis cheers with friends

Our new friends and drinking companions treated us to a round.  We look forward to sharing a few with them when we return to Gent during our Belgium Beer Barge Tour in October!

It was then off to dinner after consulting with the locals.  We ate at a restaurant called Coeur d’Artichaut (6 Onderbergen). It had a kind of modern sparse décor, high ceilings, black and white.  Great atmosphere, great food, great end to a great day!  All while having the proper glassware for my Duvel too!

Gent at night:

Gent at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beer Travels in Belgium Part 3

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.comDuring 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). 

de Bier Tempel

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.  

Catherine The Great & Vin de Céréale

De Kuppe

De Dolle Oerbier

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

‘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.

Bacchus Cornelius

Bacchus Cornelius

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).

Jerry's Cigar Bar

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 

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.

2be front entrance

2be's Great Wall of Beer

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.  

2be back porch at night

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?  

Bierbrasserie Cambrinus

Bierbrasserie Cambrinus

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.

Bierbrasserie Cambrinus

Gulden Draak

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.

Mariage Parfait

Mariage Parfait

Next in this series we will explore what Gent has to offer…stay tuned!

Beer Travels in Belgium Part 2

This is the 2nd in the series of our review of our recent 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

The Bottle Shop

The Bottle Shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Alley to de Garre

Chalkboard for Garre and Cookies

          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.

Character in Staminee De Garre

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 Pub

@ The Pub menu

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

Leopold beer / liquor menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

3 Tripels & a Bruin

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. 

De Halve Maan entrance

2 beers available at De Halve Maan

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.

Straffe Hendrik Tripel

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

't Brugs Beertje

‘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

Den Dyver Gold Award 2009

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.

hopped up champagne & house pale ale

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.

Blanche de Hainaut Biologique

Struise Rosse

            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.

Westmalle toast

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.

Het Kapittel Pater & Bink Winterkoninkske

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.

Beer #6 Witches’ Brew

Witches' Brew

Witches' Brew

Name

Witches’ Brew

Style: Tripel

Brewery: Brouwerij Van Steenberge  website

Country: Belgium

Region: Ertvelde

ABV: 9.30%

How served: 750ml caged bottle poured into a Duvel glass.

My Overall Opinion: Good.  

I paired this beer with: Grilled salmon rubbed with Cajun spices & acorn squash.  Pairing was good.

Tasted on: Thursday October 15, 2009

Note: We’re getting into the Halloween Spirit with this one.

She says “It has an easy drinkability to it and adds to the list of beers that I like from this brewery.”

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