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Yet another beergeek heading to Belgium

Discussion in 'Benelux' started by thanmad, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. thanmad

    thanmad Aficionado (110) Illinois Nov 25, 2010

    So i'm trying to keep up with all the posts about people visiting Belgium but I have some additional questions that I'm hoping for help with.

    I'm looking to spend about 4-5 days in Belgium, So far my list includes:

    Sint-Sixtus
    De Struis
    Cantillion
    3 Fonteinen
    I'm mostly a stout/barleywine/barrel-aged/sour fan, any other suggestions?

    Transportation:
    I'll eurostar from London, but the question is where to end up. Brussels seems the most obvious home base, then rent a car (I see the regular US rental companies, Enterprise, etc) and go traveling to places outside of there...would it make more sense to take the eurostar to say Bruge or Gent and then drive from there, or does it really make a difference? Should I assume average travel times for the distances I see on google maps (80kph)?

    Accommodations:
    Suggestions on affordable places to stay? I'll need at least 1 night out by Sint-Sixtus/DeStruise and the rest will probably be spent in Belgium.

    I'm looking to head out there last week of sept/first week of Oct. Any recommendations on special events or special releases during that time?

    Food:
    Any must-try restaurants? I hear Belgium has good Chocolate too ;)

    Goodies to share:
    I think beer is best when it's shared, so I'm planning on bringing a beer or two with me to share with the local bar/taprooms. Any recommendations on US beers or at least styles that seem to go over well?...Aside from the obvious Bud Light w/Lime ;)

    p.s. just read about Borefts, sounds like it would be worth the trip. Suggestions on how to get there?
  2. Belgium is awesome.

    Seeing that you are from Chicago bring Goose Island Bourbon County Stout variants if you can. You'd be a very popular man.

    To get to Borefts you can just take a train to Rotterdam and from there it's just another 15 minutes to Bodegraven. Great festival, don't miss it!

    Pretty sure others will chime in to answer you other questions.
  3. You will have read a lot of info about Struise and Saint Sixtus in this forum so i guess that info is sufficient.

    This is a bed and breakfast you could use in Oostvleteren, a few blocks from the Struise Headquarters: http://www.guesthouses.be/eenvoud-in-overvloed/#.UEBrK8EdCSq

    I would not go for Brussels if i were you. Antwerps with the best beerbar in the world, the Kulminator, is way nices and the rest of Belgium is better accesible. Brussels has a terrible cartraffic system.

    If you could make it to Borefts i can only say; do it! This is one hell of a festival with lots of amazing beers. Borefts is easily to go to with the train.
  4. If you come from London, Brussels seem to be the more logic 'homebase' but I agree w/ Brabander that Antwerp is a nicer, easier and cheaper alternative !

    Cantillon you can do by foot if your staying in Brussels
    Sint-Sixtus / De Struise is a nice daytrip (from Brussels or Antwerp) where a rental car is definitely the best option
    For 3 Fonteinen, rental car is also the best option

    Alvinne makes a few oak aged beers, there shop is open on Saturday's and they have a nice selection of beers available from other European beer brands, rental car ! www.alvinne.be

    De Molen (& Borefts) are definitely worth a visit during your stay, again w/ rental car !

    Antwerp w/ Kulminator is also a nice daytrip, Pakhuis is also appreciated by a lot of US 'beergeeks' :), they have a microbrewery on site and a restaurant !

    Brugge and Gent are the 'usual suspects' for the tourist-style of travelling (and they also have nice beerplaces)

    For cheap hotels, try www.booking.com for the cities (Brussels, Antwerp, ...) they do pretty good deals.

    Brewery 'Het Anker' in Mechelen has a restaurant on site which is nice ! You should definitely try their 'Cuvée van de Keizer' !

    I'm also interested to trade some Goose Island, Half Acre or Three Floyds for Belgians, if you have luggage space left ;)
  5. shyhenry

    shyhenry Aficionado (145) Virginia Oct 11, 2010

    If you're a sour fan, you have to visit De Heeren Van Liedekercke.
    tendermorsel likes this.
  6. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp Savant (430) Missouri Sep 14, 2011

    Yet another beer geek jealous as hell.
  7. yinzer

    yinzer Savant (385) Pennsylvania Nov 24, 2006

    Suggestion?? Make sure at every bar you try a non-stout/barleywine/barrel-aged/sour beer.

    Don't like triples? Try some Brouwerij De Graal or Adelardus Tripel by Brouwerij Kerkom. Look for unknown Brouwerij's. Maybe it's just me, but why go to Belgium and drink Rochefort when there are twenty beers on the menu that you've never had?

    Cheap Hotels?I stay at the Ibis group.

    You can get to many places by train. There are some lesser known geeky bars. Gainsbar in Kortrijk isn't a must go, but it is a fun little bar where they like to talk beer with people like us.

    I never been to In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst, but I have tentative plans to meet a BA there on 23-sept. It's only open (I believe) Sundays' 10:00-12:00, but is said to have some rare cellared sours.



  8. Spaceloaf

    Spaceloaf Aficionado (215) Oregon Nov 27, 2008

    I second (or third?) the suggestion not to stay in Brussels. The Grand Palace is really cool, but there's actually not much to Brussels outside of that area. You will certainly want to day trip there so you can hit Cantillon and Moeder Lambic, but there's no reason to stay there.

    I stayed in Gent and can highly recommend it, but I'm sure Antwerp is cool too. Also I think the train ride to Poperinge is shortest from Gent as opposed to Bruges or Brussels (although if you have a car this doesn't apply to you), and Gent is basically in the middle of Bruges, Brussels, and Antwerp, so I think it actually makes more of a logical homebase if you're day-tripping.
  9. Never been to Yves's bar either. I was thinking of heading there after Borfets actually. Although I have never been I can promise you that there are rare sours in the cellar of that place.

    I agree about Brussels. I would rather stay in Brugge Antwerp or Ghent over Brussels. Brussels is kinda grimy to be honest. Antwerp is my favorite.

    I have done the London/Brussels train many times and it is sweet. Please don't sleep on the beer scene in London BTW. It's blowing up to be honest. The Kernel is the jam.
  10. Oh and you NEED to go to Borfrets... What ever it takes to get there man. Awesome fest. Especially for an American.
  11. gooseman

    gooseman Aspirant (25) Apr 6, 2012

    Hey there,
    I'll be in Belgium from 9/20 - 9/23. Planning on going to "In de Verzekering.." as well on 9/23. Ill be staying in Brussels (didn't realize it was a terrible place to stay - unfortunately I already reserved my accommodations). Not sure how to get there; where are you staying? Maybe we can get a mini- BA meet there...
  12. beerpirates

    beerpirates Savant (425) Belgium May 4, 2010

    Good point , and it's not to far from Brussels !
    I would say try to do both , Brussels and Antwerp ,
    You have so many highlight's in Brussels , and i've your a geuze/Lambic fan , then it's a must to stay in Brussels for maybe 2 days ,
    You can do the geuze route , go to moeder lambic fontainas , where they have cantillon on tap !! Etc .....
    And it's so easy to jump on the train and half hour later your in the center of Antwerp minutes away from kulminator ,
    Don't forget that kulminator opens at 4 PM ! And it's closed on sundays
  13. beerpirates

    beerpirates Savant (425) Belgium May 4, 2010

    http://www.dorst.be/en/index.htm
    De verzekering is open from 10 am -1.30 pm every sunday ,
    Good you have somebody bringing you there. ,it's very difficult to get there ,
    De verzekering is a nice place but it's becoming a very popular place for tourists , small , crowdy but nice and VERY expencive ( i've you drink some vintage / rare beers ) to drink something ;)
  14. yinzer

    yinzer Savant (385) Pennsylvania Nov 24, 2006

    I stay outside of Brussels in Evere. Basically because I use points and get a free hotel stay. :cool: But Brussels isn't a terrible place to stay.

    No rides have been offered yet. I plan on taking a bus. We could meet at Gare de Bruxelles Central which is the main train station. Then take a Metro (subway) to the Simonis Elisabeth stop to get the bus. I use the Metro often in Brussels. So if you plan on many more trips to Brussels it might be nice to find out how to use them.

    Looks like an easy 23 minute trip with less than a kilometer walk. The buses (not the call-up buses) are easy to use. I use them to get to Brussels to/from Evere. I've only used a bus once for a trip in the country. The only real challenge is making sure that you get off at the correct stop. The buses that I use in Brussels proper normally have a screen that tell you where you're at. The one that I used in Kortrijk didn't have one. So I'll use my GPS.

    If you're interested shoot me a beermail.
  15. If you're looking for inexpensive accommodations, try airbrb.com - it's about people renting rooms in their homes/apts. I stayed in a nice canal-view apt between brussels and antwerp for $50 night. Met wonderful people who cooked a lasagne dinner that they shared with myself and friends and drove me to the brussels airport (with my two large boxes of beer). Large amount of listings for Belgium.
    Bierman9 and farundrpar like this.
  16. I used this site for my upcoming trip... Found a nice room in Munich during Oktoberfest and one in Maastricht... Oddly, the one in Munich during The Fest is cheaper than the Maastricht one....

    Prosit!!
  17. thanmad

    thanmad Aficionado (110) Illinois Nov 25, 2010

    So is there anyone else you can recommend in the London area? I remember seeing pics of BrewDog and Firestone Walker goodies posted as some bar in Camden...know which one?

    Thanks to everyone for the awesome ideas and suggestions! Definitely getting excited about my trip. Borefts sounds like a must-hit, so I'll do what I can do be there. I'm now considering a more Antwerp/Gent based approach rather than focusing on Brussels as much. It also looks like I'll have a little bit of room to bring some local favorites over with me to share. As I get closer to my trip I'll post more on the itinerary so if there's any local BAs around that care to share in a drink....

    Cheers!
  18. There's a Brewdog pub in Camden - London !
    http://www.brewdog.com/bars
    All Bar One sometimes has a few nice beers on tap, they have different locations in London. There's one on Leicester Square (theatre area) and one close to London Bridge.

    If you need any help in the Antwerp/Gent area planning or during your stay, let me know !
    I live in that area and afterwards we can definitely share a drink !
  19. shyhenry

    shyhenry Aficionado (145) Virginia Oct 11, 2010

    Sorry, I can't let this go. Recommending All Bar One for beer is like telling a tourist in NYC that Sbarro is the place to go for great pizza.
    jazzyjeff13 likes this.
  20. My favorite thing to do in London is to go to The Kernel brewery. Saturday's afternoon only. Great beer. Great guys. It seems to be a pretty popular hangout with some on the London ratebeer guys I know. To top it off they share the space with a guy who does amazing meat and cheese plates. Really unique and fun way to spend a Sat afternoon.

    I am also a huge fan of Borough Market. Market Porter is right outside the Market and an awesome place to throw back some British cask beer. The Rake is good too... Although it has lost a bit of it's luster on my last trip. Lot's of American stuff which is fine but not what I am looking for over there.

    Craft Beer Co is a tickers dream. Newish place and they have a ton of great imports and quality maintained casks.

    http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/27549

    The London scene is blowing up BTW. I am sure this is the tip of the iceberg. I have heard great things about Brodies brewery but yet to try them.
  21. Sorry that I pointed out there's a beerbar close to tourist attractions which have a selection of international beers on tap (12 ?) ! I'm only trying to help ! I didn't see you giving any better recommandations so what's the point of criticising the experience of other members ?
  22. shyhenry

    shyhenry Aficionado (145) Virginia Oct 11, 2010

    I questioned the recommendation because I don't want the OP to waste his hard-earned money in a bad bar. I'm not criticizing your personal experience, perhaps you had a great time there. I just want to point out that it's not a solid recommendation. All Bar One's a massive chain that serves pretty much entirely macro lagers. It's not representative of the exploding craft scene in London. Just take a look at a sample beer menu from their website:

    Pilsner Urquell
    Grolsch Blond
    Heineken
    Rothaus
    Peroni Nastro Azzurro
    EstrellA Damm
    Aspall SuffolK Cyder
    Veltins
    Sharp’S Doom Bar

    Nothing local, only one cask beer. Frankly, there are hundreds of places that offer a better beer selection. My personal favorites are CASK, Craft Beer Co, The Southampton Arms, The Cock Tavern, Duke's Brew & Que and The Kernel Brewery on Saturday mornings. The Brodies brewpub (King William IV) is worth it if you're willing to travel an hour to the northern edge of the city. Sorry to derail. ;)
  23. azorie

    azorie Advocate (715) Florida Mar 18, 2006

    Buy the Camra beer guides to plan with I always say.:D

    I too have tried the hub route and I also would NOT recommend Brussels. At least not on your first trip. Really depends on if your getting a car or not. Frankly first trip I say stay away from the car also. Still It can be done, nothing is impossible IF you HAVE ENOUGH TIME. We stayed in Bruges our first trip over years before it got popular. Ghent is really nice. Antwepen is my favorite if we want to take trains. I can say we done every screw up there is to do travel wise over there. Experience teaches you allot.


    The London scene is crazy GOOD atm. Still I would fly into Amsterdam and not go the chunnel route. We did that once and we were wiped out by the time we got all the way from the airport to London, then to the chunnel station then to Brussels, then to Brugge. Painful. Not to mention save a ton of money.

    If I can help you in anyway please ask.:) Still if you can get local help is always better than my semi out of date info.
  24. spartan1979

    spartan1979 Savant (360) Missouri Dec 29, 2005

    We stayed in Brussels for three nights in 2010 and I thought it was fine. The subway took us most of the places we wanted to go.

    The first day was a visit to Cantillon and then we took the train to Antwerp and visited Kulminator.

    The second day we (a group of eight) we hired a van and went to Cassel, France to drink bier de gardes. Although it would have been as easy to go to Sint Sixtus. We went by the exit for it and I couldn't get the group to stop.

    The third day was Mort Subite and Moerder Lambic.

    The next morning we left and headed to Dusseldorf and other points in Germany.

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