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Oh Brussels, such a great city. I seriously love every time I visit Brussels, I don’t think I have had a bad experience there (if you discount hangovers). The city is filled with chocolate, waffles, fries and beer, what could be better? Nothing. Because nothing could be better I decided to be an awesome girlfriend and treat Alex to an extended weekend there last June for his birthday.
Now when we arrived in Brussels we immediately decided to go out and explore the town. Generally I have a great sense of direction but Brussels is the only city so far that I cannot figure out. I have no idea why but I just do not understand the way the city is laid out. So we immediately start off in what I believe is the right direction and we promptly get lost (and this happens for the rest of the weekend). So after getting ridiculously lost and wandering around the Red Light District at 11am (interesting comparison to the woman on display at 11am and 11pm) we finally end up where we wanted to be, Grand Place. Grand Place is the central square of Brussels and is surrounded by ornate medieval buildings. It is a great starting point to see the city and it is also where my “spidey senses” aka my sense of direction kicked back in and I was able to find a bar that I went to when I was studying abroad. My roommates and I called the bar our Harry Potter Bar because it was down a little brick alley which we attributed to Diagon Alley. The name of the bar is actually Au Bon Vieux Temps which is “In Good Old Time” in English and the bar has been around since 1695.
It is an awesome little bar with a lot of history and a ton of great Belgian beers. The menu is just beer and wine and I would definitely go here for the specialty Belgian Beers. It’s a fun, small, dark bar to hang out in and drink with the locals. Also since it is dark inside you don’t feel as bad drinking beer in the middle of the day (and it’s a cultural experience as well). We tried a few traditional Belgian beers and then we saw “The Best Beer in the World” listed on the menu. It was a Trappist ale called Westvleteren and it was delicious. Only eight monasteries brew beer which can be called Trappist beer so any time you see Trappist beers I would order them no matter what. It is actually quite rare even in Brussels to find this particular beer in a bar as the monastery only sells their beer in small quantities from the monastery itself. So make your way to Au Bon Vieux Temps and have yourself a super rare beer, it’s totally worth it.
After having the best beer in the world our standards were set pretty high in terms of beer so we decided to head to where both quality and quantity reign supreme, Delirium Cafe. Delirium Cafe is famous for holding the Guinness World Record for having the most beers in one place which is over 2000 beers! It is my drinking home away from home. It’s amazing and HUGE with multiple levels filled with hundreds of beers on tap, thousands of beers in bottles and fancy beers bottled like champagne. It is a beer lover’s paradise. Alex and I immediately headed for the bar; we are bar people, you will not find us at a table unless we couldn’t squeeze in at the bar. Once we were seated at the bar we are handed a gigantic binder filled with beer options. It is overwhelming in the best way possible. At about this time Alex and I decided to start taking pictures of every round we have. I’m still not sure of that was a brilliant or foolish idea or whether the amount of beer we consumed was foolish or brilliant on an empty stomach. But either way this was our last drink of the night…
The next day started out predictably slow; it was a chore to wake up and not wish I was at home in bed but I got up anyways. We had barely scratched the surface of the beers we could consume but first I needed waffles. Waffles are all over Brussels and we decided to head back down to Grand Place to grab some (getting lost once again in the process). We ended up at the St. Hubertus Royal Gallery and grabbed some traditional waffles at Le Mokafe. There is just something so satisfying about a waffle covered in powdered sugar and is the best hangover cure you are going to get in Brussels.
After waffles it was time to get back on the beer wagon and just on the other side of the Royal Gallery is Mort Subite, a bar that has been around since the 1920s. Mort Subite is French for sudden death and the bar and the brewery took on this name because the local bankers would come into the bar after work and play a dice game. The final game of the night was finished with “mort subite” or sudden death. Mort Subite is a brewery that specializes in Gueze, a sour beer, and lambics or fruit beers. Now before Brussels if you had offered me a fruit beer I would have declined and if it was a Belgian fruit beer you had offered me it would have been a huge mistake. Belgian fruit beers are amazing!
I was first converted by Delirium Red, a cherry fruit beer, and then I couldn’t stop. I had more fruit beer in Brussels in a week than some people may think possible but they are delicious. None of them were sickly sweet and had just the right amount of actual fruit taste. While there are many fruit beers, Mort Subite wins in my opinion. They have a peach beer which is definitely my favorite, but the cherry and raspberry are delicious as well. So Alex and I had a few fruit beers at first but while we were sitting in the beer hall which has not changed since 1928 we overheard people talking about Gueze. Apparently the Gueze is a double fermented sour beer and you either love sour beer or you hate it.
Well obviously Alex and I decided that we needed to order Gueze. It seemed like that all the locals were drinking Gueze so why not. Alex ordered himself a bottle and I couldn’t resist ordering just one more Peach Lambic. Once the Gueze arrived I was quite glad that I decided to stick to the peach beer; the Gueze tasted like throw up but in an odd way that made you want to keep drinking it. Alex had one sip and was disgusted but then he had another and it started to grow on him. By the time he was done with the glass he was tempted to buy another one.
In the end though we decided that hungover and drinking beer that tasted oddly like delicious vomit was not the best course of action and we were determined to go out and explore Brussels more. There is a lot more to Brussels than beer and we went out and wandered all over the beautiful city. Brussels is a gorgeous city with medieval buildings interspersed with the more modern city (insert cliche about old and new melding into one). You can really see the diverse population of Belgium represented in this city from the French to the Dutch and the Flemish. Brussels is a city I highly recommend visiting for its diversity and of course the great beer! And have no worry there will soon be articles about Brussels’ outstanding food (mussels in Brussels perhaps….) and all the awesome things you can see while exploring the city (Manneken Pis is not one of them….Unless you have a thing for statues of little boys peeing…). But for now go have a beer!
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