About halfway through my trip to Brussels, I realized it would be impossible for me to adequately talk about my food and drink experience in one blog post. So, I thought it was only natural to do a beer-specific post about everything I drank in Brussels because, well, it was amazing. If you love beer (at all) and especially if you enjoy trying new beers, you have to visit Brussels. They take their beer seriously – I mean each beer has a specific serving temperature and type of glass it should be served in – and even though I was there for a week (and had at least 3 beers everyday), I didn’t even crack the surface of the Brussels beer culture.
One of the very first things I was told when I asked for advice about visiting Brussels and where to go was to hit up Delirium Café. I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with Delirium beer (it’s the bottles with the elephant on them), but this particular bar is so much more than that. The building is actually split into three separate bars known as Delirium Village – Delirium Café in the basement, Delirium Tap House on the main floor, and Delirium Hoppy Loft upstairs. There are also a few other Delirium locations nearby that offer a smaller selection. If you’ve heard anything about this particular place, though, Delirium Café is likely the location that was mentioned. So, what’s so great about this place, you may ask? Well, they offer over 2,000 beers to choose from! That’s right – on any given night (or day) you’re there, you can choose from over 2,000 beers… talk about overwhelming!
As I mentioned, I had A LOT of beer while I was in Brussels – one with pretty much every meal, and then another one or two each night when I went out. I found myself a little nervous when ordering since it can be a little nerve-wracking to order something you’ve never had before. Aside from one night where I hated pretty much everything I ordered, I think I was successful! So without further ado, here are the beers I had (and a little review of each)!
Saison Dupont – I absolutely love saisons, but they’re newer to me (just started trying them this past summer). They originated in Belgium, so when I saw this on the menu at Houtisplou I knew I had to order it. It was crisp and slightly fruity with just an ever-so-slight sour finish. I would have ordered this over and over again, but I knew I had to branch out and try as much as I could.
Delirium Nocturnum – I’ve had Delirium beers before, initially attracted to them because of the elephant on the bottle. I’m not ashamed to admit that I often gravitate towards different drinks (especially wines) based on their labels and names. What can I say? You get extra points from me if your label is cute and/or clever. And until this trip I haven’t made a bad choice based on the name/label (see below for my least favorite beers). I’ve had Delirium’s Tremmens before, and while I wanted to try new-to-me beers from breweries I hadn’t had before, I had to order a Delirium while I was at Delirium Cafe!
Kriek – I had a few different Krieks while I was in Brussels (one by Brouwerij Lindemans, another by Brasserie Cantillon), which are lambic beers fermented with cherries, and was shocked that I liked them. While you might think to yourself, “ew, fruit beers!” this is so much more than that. They have a slight hint of sweetness, but it’s mostly a tart and sour cherry flavor you taste, which I absolutely loved. Also, they’re pretty carbonated, which I’m a big fan of since I have a slight (okay, big) obsession with Seltzer. The bright reddish color makes it fun to drink, too.
Achel 8° Blond by Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis – This was my first official Trappist beer of the trip, and let me tell you, those Monks know how to make a good beer! This is a strong pale ale, and is full of flavor since it’s right in the middle of their number rating system in terms of strength (6, 8, or 10). I had this beer at Poechenellekelder, a bar right across from the Mannekin Pis. They have a phenomenal beer list and it’s a perfect place to stop in and enjoy a brew (or a few) after taking in the tourist attraction.
Zinnebir by Brasserie de la Senne – Another Belgian pale ale, another near perfect rating on my Untappd app. This beer is simultaneously hoppy, but also pretty light, fruity, and crisp. I ordered this beer as it was listed as a local special when I was having dinner one night, and it was a perfect light companion to my heavier dinner of stoemp.
Vendett Extra Blond by Duvel Moortgat – This pale lager went perfectly with the fare served at Bia Mara, and I loved the fun pictures and sayings on the back of the bottles (as seen above). It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was a good light beer… dare I say better than most light lagers found in my neck of the woods.
La Chouffe by Brasserie d’Achouffe – This was a featured beer at Houtisplou on my last night in Brussels, and since I had luck with the Zinnebir, I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s an unfiltered blond that winds up being re-fermented in the bottle or keg, and it’s fruity and spicy (think coriander notes), and light on the hops.
Buffalo Bitter by Brouwerij Van Den Bossche – This was similar to the Dupont Saison, and I’d say is tied for first with my absolute favorite beer of the trip. The brew is actually a Belgian IPA, and I loved it. When I first started drinking beer for taste rather than to get drunk at keg parties in college, I didn’t know how to feel about IPA’s… I think there was actually too much flavor for me (since those college beers were always such high quality, ha), but I’ve since learned to actually love the complexity of a good IPA. And the Buffalo Bitter hits it right on the head.
And now for the three that I didn’t particularly like. I had such good luck the first few times I ordered beer, that I knew it was inevitable I’d happen upon a few that just weren’t my cup of tea. Unfortunately I wound up ordering them all on the same day! I also made the mistake of ordering them based on their names, which I know I said I’ve been successful with before, but these choices made me realize that isn’t necessarily a good way to order beer.
Open Mind by Birrificio Montegioco – This was the least offensive of the three that made it to my “yuck” category. It’s actually an Italian beer, but the bar I was at, Moeder Lambic, had a bunch of “visitors” so I decided to try one. It was okay (typical blond ale), but nothing to write home about.
Pink Killer by Brasserie de Silly – Yup, I ordered this because of the name. And when I saw it had a pink hue and came in a glass that had a cute little dog on it, I was pumped… until I took a sip. It reminded me of Mad Dog 20 20 that was mixed with cheap beer and cough syrup. Needless to say I didn’t finish it.
Barbar by Brasserie Lefebvre – Again with the name. But this time it wasn’t because of the actual name, but because it made me think of Babar, the cute little elephant that has adventures! As I type this out, I can’t help but shake my head (so you can too). This was better than Pink Killer, but barely. I’m not sure what it was about the beer, but I just didn’t like it. I managed to finish it, but only because I had ordered the Pink Killer when I was halfway through in hopes of it redeeming this beer, and since it was worse, this one didn’t taste so bad comparatively.
Needless to say I had a lot of beer on the trip. So much that I haven’t had one yet since I’ve been back (though that’ll change this weekend, I’m sure)! I was definitely spoiled by getting to try so many different beers, and on top of all the delicious food I was able to sample while there made it quite the trip. Now I need to figure out where to go next!
Are you a beer drinker? What’s your favorite? (I want to try it!)
2 thoughts on “A Trip to Brussels: The Beer!”
AHHHHH!!! And here is where I insert my jealousy!! I LOVE beer and I’m so glad you wrote this post. Brussels sounds like heaven for my husband and I and I hope we get to go there some day.
I don’t know what my favorite beer is, but I really love brown ales, IPAs, and saisons. Lets hang out and drink beer soon! 🙂
Ahhh, this brings back some memories! I haven’t had a Kriek in a long time–may have to make a stop at Binny’s this week and pick some up. Also, did you try any Kwak when you were there? You can find it some places in Chi occasionally. It comes in this goofy class, which makes for an …interesting drinking experience: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauwel_Kwak#Pauwel_Kwak