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Au Bon Vieux Temps

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BA SCORE
89
very good

28 Ratings
Ratings: 28
Reviews: 22
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 13.23%
Taps: 0
Bottles: 0
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar ]

Impasse Saint-Nicolas 4
Brussels, 1000
Belgium
phone: +32 2 217 26 26

view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: TheLongBeachBum)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 28 | Reviews: 22 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.79/5  rDev -3.6%

Right next door to one of Brussels hidden gems, the ‘A L'Imaige Nostre Dame’, is yet another – the ‘Au Bon Vieux Temps’. Very much like its neighbor, but with a slightly smaller beer list, nevertheless, it is still worth popping in here for a beer.

The alleyway is called ‘Impasse St.Nicholas’, and this too is also accessed from Rue Marché aux Herbes. A short 3 min. walk from the Grand Place, but just a 30 second stumble from, L'Imaige Nostre Dame.

Another genuine Old Brussels Café, dating from the 17th Century I believe. Once in the alleyway, windows covered in old-style ornate steel grids make you feel a little uneasy, but they are there to protect the ancient windows, rather than prevent Burglars. The entrance, itself an archway made from brick & stone, is to the right of a larger main stone archway. On a night-time, this area is lit by some fairy-lights which give it a rather Xmasy feel.

Once inside, it is dingy to say the least, and strong deep medieval wooden odors invade your nostrils. This Café has an incredible dark timber interior that has many exquisite wooden carvings. It is quite compact and only accommodates a few small groups before it gets full.

The beer range is around 30, and it has many solid Belgium classics worth trying. It is another one of those places that is worth visiting to absorb the real Bruxellois Café, as it used to be. A genuine interior makes up for the rather pedestrian beer list – but nonetheless, you will find a handful of Belgium Classic Ales that are worthy of at least an hour, or two, in here.

Whilst I would be the first to admit that you could miss this one out if you were really pushed for time, on a tight schedule and/or craving ‘rare’ beers; but it would be a desperate shame if you missed this Café. It would especially be a shame if you are already visiting the nearby and excellent La Bécasse for it’s Lambic Doux, and then the L'Imaige Nostre Dame, which is literally next door, for the unique Bourgogne des Flandres. If you do, then you should allow yourself the reward of re-acquainting yourself with one, or two, of the Belgium Classic Ales that you have no doubt had before, but in a high quality, genuine 17th Century Brussels Café atmosphere.

Last Visit: 30th Nov. 2003

TheLongBeachBum, Jun 22, 2003
Photo of cmrillo
4/5  rDev +1.8%

cmrillo, Aug 23, 2014
Photo of AdamNowek
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%

AdamNowek, Aug 07, 2014
Photo of dwagner003
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%

dwagner003, Jul 14, 2014
Photo of FRANKtheMACHINE
3.98/5  rDev +1.3%

Just got back from brussels last night. While this wasn't my favorite place (check port noir on a night with music) we did get some cool local info from a pensioner who is a friend of a friend. The stained glass to the right of the bar is huge and depicts Saint Michael slaying satan who is in the image of a dragon. On his left is a female saint - Saint Gudula. Apparently the locals insisted she be sainted back in the day. Church by same name is also nearby. As others have mentioned Westvleteren is available for 12euro. Other choices may be better but if you've never tried it you can at this bar. Happy hunting.

FRANKtheMACHINE, Mar 22, 2014
Photo of Sparky44
4/5  rDev +1.8%

Sparky44, Feb 18, 2014
Photo of jandadeboer
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%

jandadeboer, Feb 04, 2014
Photo of RCane1
4.39/5  rDev +11.7%

This is a MUST. It's down an alley and looks like nothing from outside. The brick over the door says "1689" and the experience probably hasn't changed much since then. Inside is a very cool tavern with maybe a dozen or so tables. A great relaxing stop to enjoy a pint. Somehow, this place has a connection to Saint Sixtus Abbey and can keep Westvleteren on their menu! For those that don't know, the Westy monks don't produce for profit and only sell their excess - so it's a rare find! The visitors were a mixed bunch, as everywhere in Brussels, but all quietly enjoying a chat and a brew. I did the same with a Westvleteren 12. The friendly bartender poured it from a plain brown bottle (that's how it comes) and matter of factly flipped me the cap so I could see the Abbey logo. It's now a prized possession, as is the memory of this great bar.

RCane1, Feb 01, 2014
Photo of uturn
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%

uturn, Jan 09, 2014
Photo of BeerTampa
2.11/5  rDev -46.3%

This place hasn't been reviewed in a while.

Judging from the prior reviews, this place has gone downhill.

This is right off the Grand Place but was billed as a non-tourist zone. We went late in the evening, probably 23:00.

It was pretty much all tourists. There was a young Belgian dude there that was getting the email address of a visibly intoxicated young American.

Beer menu consisted of a few Trappist beers. In big letters and in English: we have Westvleteren, the best beer in the WORLD. 10 euro.

I ordered it. The 60 year old Bar Mom opened it on the other side of the bar, dumped it into a glass, and served it to me. Didn't see the cap. Could have been another Trappist beer with the labeled removed from the bottle. Who knows. It was good, but judging from their advertising and the touristy nature of the bar, I question if it was really a Westy.

BeerTampa, Jun 06, 2013
Photo of crossovert
4.53/5  rDev +15.3%

Alone in Belguim ( I highly do not reccomend this, so much crime on the streets) I wandered into the bar next to it because my friends said they got Westy there. Of course i get in there but they don't so the lady said go next door to Au Bon Vieux Temps, they have it. So dickishly i straight up left. Then i got to Au Bon Vieux Temps and was nicely greeted by the female bartender. I immediately asked for the westy and she warned me of the price but I got it anyways at 10 euros. The place is old school inside, just a kick-ass old school pub. no smoking anymore anywhere in Brussels. I met some cool Flemish people and had a great time sipping on my Westy. This is the way I would have wanted to try this beer, among good company. I didn't even bother to critique the Westy, It was good, one of my 3 favorite beers, enough said. The real amazing part about this place is that the bartender let me buy 2 more bottles to go. With sincerity I really recommend this place, it is a must. No bar wtih this much character and charm should be forgotten.

crossovert, Aug 03, 2011
Photo of distantmantra
3.73/5  rDev -5.1%

Even though this is right near the Grand Place, Au Bon Vieux Temps is still off the beaten path and not frequented by most tourists. Once you make your way down the alley and into the bar, ABVT is reminiscent of what I figure Brussels was like prior to modernization. Stained glass windows, old wooden beems, tables and chairs, and extremely smoky. The beer selection isn't incredible, but what they do have is great. When we were there in April 2011, Westy 12 was even available in bottle. Well worth a visit if you find yourself in Brussels.

distantmantra, Jul 01, 2011
Photo of jrallen34
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%

I've actually been to this bar twice both, times I've been to Brussels and it is one of my favorite Brussels Bars. Most Brussel bars are way to crowded and noisy and appeal to the tourist. This place is located down some random alley so you really have to look for it to find it. Its small and authenic inside, tons of locals. The beer menu is small but has all the trappist beers and both times I've been here they have had Westy 12 at a very reasonable price.

If you're looking to escape the busy scene and want a great place to just chill and drink some good beer, this is the place to go.

jrallen34, Nov 27, 2010
Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%

Visited: 8-18-08

Follow the Impasse St. Nicholas past the Kasteel, Dickirch, and Duvel neon lights to the Corsendonk sign. Then go a little further and you will find a hidden treat of Brussels' beer scene. This place is a real tavern complete with drunken old men locals, debating philosophers and footballers, and stained glass windows. The beer list is small but excellent and features Westy 12. I ordered 2 but found one of the bottles that came a bit suspicious. One had the yellow cap I have had several times before and came in a Westmalle bottle. The other came in a Trappist bottle and featured a cap that looked to be a bad forgery of a Westy cap. I ran into this sort of thing a few times so if anyone has any insight into this please BM me. At anyrate, the beers were excellent. The service was fine and came from a cool old woman. The atmosphere top notch. Seek it out and don't miss out on the equally weird bar next door.

DaPeculierDane, Sep 12, 2009
Photo of Labtested
4.36/5  rDev +10.9%

Came here in June 2009
Great place with a superb atmosphere. As other reviewers have noted its a local joint with very few tourist as its a hard place to find.
The list is small but has enough of the good beers to please. We had a thoroughly wonderful afternoon with the owner and some locals discussing the merits of various beers from around the world. If you love beer and are a bit of a purist when it comes to them you'll love this place as its all about the beer. There is not much to eat so I'd recommend eating elsewhere then coming here to enjoy the afternoon.

We drank at many bars in Belgium and this was one of our favourite places. Mostly because of the staff and the wonderful surroundings.

Labtested, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of davedahl
4.34/5  rDev +10.4%

I was fortunate enough to travel through Brussels a couple times a back in 2004/5. I found my way to this tavern on a recommendation from someone at my hotel.

The atmosphere is above average because of it's lack of tourists and plenty of available seating. After a discussion with the manager behind the bar I found out the building was originally a Nunnery in the 1600's but has been a working bar since the 1800's!

Selection's on the beer list are good. Not a fat book, but a good selection of Belgian's nonetheless.

Service was off-the-charts and here's why...

This is a place for locals. On a return trip to Au Bon I recognized one of the guys at the bar from my last trip - who is a spot-on Sammy Davis Jr. The middle-aged woman behind the bar didn't know much English, but when you try your French (as my wife did) she opens up. My wife and I were just returning from Italy so we knew a few phrases, and my Italian cigarettes prompted the bar-woman to tell us her husband, who had just joined us at the bar, was Italian. What resulted was a fantastic discussion about beer and travel all via broken Italian, French, a small smattering of English, and some Flemish translations for Sammy. We were instantly "locals" and the bar-woman began plying us with different beers from behind the bar that they were eager for us to try and discuss!

Very fond memories of a great Brussles locals-bar.

davedahl, Jun 24, 2008
Photo of tsmo
2.7/5  rDev -31.3%

Think of this as a beer bar and you'll hate it; your options are trappist or a thin selection from InBev. Your waitress doesn't speak English, or much French.

On the other hand, think of it as a neighborhood pub and you might fall in love. It's largely free of tourists, completely free of the tourist atmosphere, and either a couple hundred years old or doing a damn good job of faking it. Among the more beautiful bars I've set foot in.

The way I see it, Au Bon Vieux Temps makes a good (perhaps optimistic) metaphor for Brussels at large: old wood, stained glass, cobblestones and a Hoegaarden.

tsmo, Jun 25, 2007
Photo of Estarrio
4.31/5  rDev +9.7%

I felt that most places in Brussels were far too packed and far too touristy. The old world charm that could be witnessed in other Belgian cities just wasn't there in Brussels...Until we entered Au Bon Vieux Temps.

This place will not dazzle you with the beer selection. It does have solid, well-priced offerings but you will find no hundred-page menu here. I enjoyed a couple of Rochefort 8's during my stay.

What you will find is a magnificent old bar with some the most charming atmosphere in Belgium. When you turn off the main road and traverse the ornate arches in the alleyway, it is like passing through time. From the ancient, stained glass windows to the aged wooden beams, this bar is a page out of history. Words cannot describe the old world charm of this bar. Best yet, we were the only tourists in the place. We chatted with the older, local crowd and had a wonderful experience.

Unless you are really into the throngs of tourists and hustle and bustle of Brussels, this is a MUST stop.

Estarrio, Mar 08, 2007
Photo of Globetrotter
3.65/5  rDev -7.1%

This is a dark hole in the wall in an alley off of a main shopping street just north of the Grand Place. As you go in, there are tables on the right and in the back, while the bar squares off the corner on the left. Lots of dark wood - ceiling, walls, furniture. Cushioned vinyl on the chairs and benches. Plateware, jugs and clocks on the wail, a couple of stained glass windows and a big ceramic fireplace/heater against the back wall complete the ambience. The place was 3/4 full on a Saturday at about 3:00, and filling fast. I sat at a small table towards the back and waited. And waited. And waited. I finally gave up and went to the bar, where I was served fairly quickly. I'd have said that there was only bar service, but I then noticed one woman did seem to be working the tables. Obviously not very quickly, though.

There were 8 or 10 taps, one of which was an awful lager from Luxemburg. The rest were quite respectable, if neither unique nor intriguing. I counted 24 beers on the beer list. The beers were served well, in their appropriate logo glassware and at the right temperature. Great atmosphere, this is a nice place to duck into to avoid the tourist crowds outside. Great by no means, but certainly worthy of a visit.

Globetrotter, Dec 10, 2006
Photo of BlackHaddock
3.73/5  rDev -5.1%

I liked this place, solid, old, clean and almost empty on both visits during afternoons in October 2006. The beer list isn't huge or fantastic, or even interesting, but the place just fits my idea of what a small Brussels bar must have been like before the 20th century.

Lead glass windows and being in an alley, ensures it is dark, the ancient darkwood panelling and dim lighting compound the issue, it all adds to the atmostphere. This is old Brussels meets the tourist trade, it does it very nicely in my opinion. I shall be taking my parents here in December and update this review accordingly afterwards.

There was no need to update the first review, it was identicle to my other visits!

BlackHaddock, Oct 24, 2006
Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.31/5  rDev -15.8%

This place was very simple to find, but was a rather hot old bar inside. The place was dark and sweaty at the time of our visit with very low lighting.

Our waitress arrived, she was as old as the bar and spoke very little and very poor English. She made ordering off the small 23 beer menu a chore and extremely time consuming. Once she got the order she delivered most of the beers to the wrong people and then had to switch them around.

The place seemed like a tourist spot and it filled up very quickly. It was nearly empty when we arrived and was filled to the brim by the time we got the beers ordered.

If I was in the neighborhood I might drop in to wet my whistle, but more likely I would trudge on in search of some new, and certainly more exciting adventure. At the time of our visit the place was simply hot and noisy and as a result did not contain much charm.

Visited on September 16, 2006.

GCBrewingCo, Oct 20, 2006
Photo of Brewdogger
4.43/5  rDev +12.7%

This is a hole in the wall, but a hidden gem a for those who are not regulars. This beer bar is right off the street from the craziness of Grand'Place and a perfect way to get away from the tourists and those looking for the Chocolate shop. The beer menu is not big, but you can go for the standard Chimay or Duvel or go for one of their specialties. I can't give away the secret, you have to go see it yourself. It is a great place to have a few after work or a place to take your tourist friends. Laissez les bons temps rouler, c'est incroyable!

Brewdogger, Jul 17, 2006
Photo of Bierschenker
4.45/5  rDev +13.2%

This is a great bar. So secluded from all the busy traffic and the dumb tourists a few steps away. You really need to know where it is if you want to find it. Located in an old alleyway dating from the middle ages. This is one of the last real Flemish bars in Brussels. Nowadays almost all the bars and shops and inhabitants of Brussels are French speaking. This is why I love this bar so much. The people behind the bar just speak Dutch! The decorations are not as old as the bar but old enough to give it that ancient cachet. They don’t really have that much beers, but every visitor has his own reasons for coming here. The tourists thinking they are smarter than the ones outside because they found this one. The Flemish because they get served in Dutch. And the romantics because the decorations are authentic and not glued on to attract tourists. Anyway, great bar and to al the BA’s visiting Brussels, you might meet me there some day.

Ut vivat, crescat, floreat!

Bierschenker, Apr 01, 2005
Photo of JohnW
3.93/5  rDev 0%

In full agreement with other reports here in BA, this is an amazing little bar, that is well worth a visit, especially if you are on a days visit, and centred near Grande Place, as only a couple minutes walk away. Very small inside, but wonderful atmosphere of calm from the hubbub of the outside. Friendly courteous service, though the beer list not as big as some more famous haunts, still always something worth trying. Not sure about food there, I think beer is the main thing - but worth the visit anyhow.

Incidently the 'beer museum' in the Grande Place is a place to avoid! Expensive entrance fee, not much to see when you get there, and the beer sample just a standard mass produced lager beer served by someone with no interest in the place at all!

John W visited Sept 2004

JohnW, Feb 21, 2005
Photo of Goldorak
3.79/5  rDev -3.6%

Another bar litterally in a hole in the wall, down a dark and dingy alleyway. The place seemed full of old regulars, and we were able to squezze ourselves in a corner, right next to the fireplace and the huge stained glass window. The place has an old, relaxed atmosphere to it. A great place for a romantic evening, with good Beer!

It seems to be the same nice lady working the bar as the previous reviewers mentionned. Funny, because when we ordered our Beers with our freaky French-Canadian accent, she didn't understand a word we said and tried to take our order in English, which she obviously knew very little of as well. So I just pointed at the menu. That seemed to be a recurring theme our whole trip. Next time I go there, I'll have a sign or a T-shirt made out with the inscription "Écoutez-moi attentivement, je parle francais" (pay close attention, I speak french)

Beer list wasn't too awesome by Belgian standards, but anywhere that serves Westmalle Dubbel on tap is allright with me!

Goldorak, Oct 02, 2004
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Au Bon Vieux Temps in Brussels, Belgium
89 out of 100 based on 28 ratings.