Brussels/Bruges/Amsterdam Suggestions

Discussion in 'Europe' started by pafo84, Apr 2, 2018.

  1. pafo84

    pafo84 Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2014

    I’ll be visiting Amsterdam, Bruges and Brussels and possibly a day trip in Ghent at the end of April. Does anyone have any good food/beer spots/bottle shop recommendations? (definitely visiting Cantillon), hoping for good weather so some outdoor drinking locations would be appreciated.

    Looking forward to trying some Cantillon, 3F and Westvleteren in any of these places, if you have any suggestions where to find them, much appreciated!

  2. Hayley_86

    Hayley_86 Poo-Bah (1,792) Jan 1, 2014 Netherlands

    I have written some more advice on places in Amsterdam so if you search in the forum you can find more information about it.

    A good reminder is that april 27th in the Netherlands is Kingsday.
    So if you happen to be in Amsterdam that day then be prepared for some craziness. Definitely a lot of beer but much more quantity than quality.
    If you want to join in the Kingsday fun then definitely bring something orange to wear.
  3. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,212) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    If you will have time while in Bruges go to the De Halve Maan website and schedule a brewery tour. The tour is very interesting to see their old facility, and the tasting room afterward is a great experience. I think it cost me something to schedule the tour (maybe it was a VIP version), but it was well worth it.
  4. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,242) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    "Grey" market Westvleteren bottles run between 11 and 18 Euros apiece in Brussels. Bruge supposedly has shops that have it for less, but still in that ballpark. Not sure how much time you have, but the drive from Bruge is only about an hour. 6-packs in the In De Vrede shop can be had for 20, and it's a worthwhile trip to begin with.

    Similarly, if you have time and/or a car near Brussels it's well worth a trip to Drie Fonteinen in Beersel. Their bottles aren't that common in town and it's wonderful contrast to Cantillon's older/urban facility.
    Davl22 likes this.
  5. Dave_S

    Dave_S Initiate (48) May 18, 2017 England

    In Brussels, it depends a bit on what you're after. Apart from lambic, a lot of the greatest Belgian beers are affordable and widely distributed, and there are some places that are good for blowing your savings on rare bottles (eg Moeder Lambic, Nuetnigenough) but not so good for great, classic, normal-priced stuff, whereas other places (eg Pochenellekelder, Bier Circus, La Brocante, Brasserie Egalite) that are the other way around. Still other places (eg Brussels Beer Project, Contrebande) do newer stuff that's a mix of Belgian and international styles.

    IMO Place Flagey is a nice place to visit that's off the beaten track. La Murmure and Le Pantin are pretty good beer places and Amere a Boire is fairly great, and it's mostly full of immaculately dishevelled left-bank art student types rather than loud beer geeks, which makes a nice change. Good frites, too.

    FWIW the Drie Fonteinen Lambic-O-Drome is easily accessible by train from Midi. In De Verzerkering Tegen De Grote Dorst is a bit more of a pain - it's a bus ride and a short walk and has famously limited opening hours.
  6. pafo84

    pafo84 Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2014

    Thanks for the recommendations! We won't have a car, anyone have any experience with taxis/uber in Brussels? May need to use it to get to Drie Fonteinen or back to downtown Brussels from Cantillon.
  7. Dave_S

    Dave_S Initiate (48) May 18, 2017 England

    Uber is definitely A Thing in Brussels, but there's no need for it really - Drie is five minutes walk from Lot station with regular trains to and from Gare du Midi, most things in Brussels are walkable, and the bus, tram and subway network is really good for anything that isn't walkable or if you can't be bothered.
  8. Redrover

    Redrover Poo-Bah (3,007) Jan 18, 2003 Illinois

  9. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (517) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    If you want to avoid the tourist hell that is the centre of Amsterdam, these are a few suggestions.

    Butcher's Tears is a small brewery with a taproom a couple of miles out of the city centre.

    Noorderlicht has a limited beer menu, but has a great spot on the water. The ferry ride there is pretty cool, too (and free).

    In the Rivierenbuurt you've got Goos ( and Tap Zuid ( vitually next door ro each other. Both offer a good range of Amsterdam beers.

    Troost has three brewpubs, one in De Pijp (, one in the Westergasfabriek ( and one in the East (

    Poesiat & Kater is a brewery and taproom, also in the East. They have two lines of beer, one old Dutch styles, the other modern stuff. (

    Biertuin is another place in the East with a selection of Amsterdam beers. (

    Right out at the end of the 14 tram, hidden in ppark there's 't Nieuwe Diep, a pub and distillery that also sells Czzech beer. It's in a lovely spot.

    Joost is another pla e in the East specialising in Amsterdam beer.

    If you must drink in the centre, Kelkje is just off the tourist hellhole. It's owned by the same people as Nieuwe Diep and has their jenevers and Franconian beer.

    Close to Centraal Station, but surprisingly unspoilt is De Ooievaar. A few decent beers, some good jenever and just a brilliant, tiny pub.

    Just around the corner is another jenever bar, Olofspoort. It's stunningly beaitiful: like sitting in a Vermeer painting.
  10. Vanlingleipa

    Vanlingleipa Devotee (428) May 19, 2011 California

    The coolest old brown pub/cafe in Amsterdam is the de Wynand Fockink distillery in Dam Square, in the alley next to the Hotel Krasnapolsky.

    WF, which been around since 1679 or so, also serves beer and jenever but their best stuff is a huge list of liquors - my favs are framboise, coffee, apple pie, ginger bitters, etc, etc., giant list. Extremely tasty. And liquors/jenever bottles can be bought to-go.
    #10 Vanlingleipa, Apr 10, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  11. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,242) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    Random suggestion - in Amsterdam, give Heineken Oud Bruin a shot. I'm not saying it's good or bad, but it's unlike any beer I've ever had before or since.
  12. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,212) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    One travel tip that I caught onto before my trip to Belgium and Germany last spring was that many places don't take credit cards. I haven't seen this mentioned in this forum for a while, but I was appreciative to have discovered this information before my trip. The lack of credit card usage was mostly true in Germany during my trip, and I'll guess that a third to a half of the breweries and restaurants were cash-only. For those who travel frequently to the area, is this still true?
    Domingo likes this.
  13. pafo84

    pafo84 Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2014

    Thank you all for these great suggestions, I have taken note of them all!

    Good to know about credit cards, does Cantillon except credit card?
  14. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,212) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Yes to credit cards being accepted at Cantillon. All of the hotels where I stayed accepted plastic too. It's just the breweries/bars/restaurants that may not take them.
  15. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,242) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I was last in Brussels 2 years ago, but I found credit cards to be more widely accepted there than in Germany. There are still lots of places in Germany don't take them. They're starting to more and more, but there are still plenty of tourist-frequented places in and around Munich that don't. Especially breweries and taprooms. Dusseldorf was similar. Their system of marking your coaster doesn't really jive with credit card tabs.

    I went to Brussels with that in mind, but found people paying with plastic almost everywhere. Maybe not Delirium Cafe (that would be a nightmare), but most everywhere else. Cash is still way quicker and easier, though. ATM's are everywhere, too.
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
  16. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (517) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    You'll struggle to find it, unfortunately. You can sometimes find it in supermarkets.
  17. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,242) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    That's really too bad. I ordered some at an Indonesian restaurant 12'ish years ago and was baffled by it. I think it was simply labeled "donker" on the menu and I assumed it would be like the Heineken Dark we get over here in the US.

    Are there other Dutch Oud Bruins readily available?
  18. Dave_S

    Dave_S Initiate (48) May 18, 2017 England

    We had one in a cafe in Delft at some point last year. Can't remember which one (edit: I think it was Brand), but we were quite surprised because we weren't even aware of Dutch Oud Bruin and were expecting the Flanders style.
    #18 Dave_S, Apr 13, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
  19. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (517) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    There are a handful still made by old Lager breweries. Heineken Donker isn't available in Holland. They used to have a Münchener here, but I think they dropped that in the 1960's.

    Oud Bruin isn't that old as a style. It only appeared in the 1930's. As an attempt by Northern Lager breweries to kill off top-fermenting breweries in the South that made sweet, dark beers.

    I've published an Amstel Oud Bruin recipe:

    I also wrote an article for BA Magazine about the style. Which is probably one of the least-known. And will probably soon die out.
    emerge077 and Domingo like this.
  20. Dutchcraftbeergeek

    Dutchcraftbeergeek Defender (621) Nov 21, 2015 Netherlands

    In Amsterdam you have lots of beer cafes.
    BeerTemple, In de Wilderman, Craft & Draft.

    Moeder Lambic, Brewdog, Monk.
    Sheppard likes this.
  21. Ostpies

    Ostpies Initiate (81) Nov 3, 2015 New Zealand (Aotearoa)

    Don't take credit cards or don't take American Express? Have definitely noticed the latter.
  22. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,212) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Yeah, I can't speak for American Express being accepted since I don't carry it, but I'm pretty sure that I have read that AE is not well accepted in Europe.
    Jwale73 likes this.
  23. Sparty93

    Sparty93 Initiate (49) Aug 29, 2013 Michigan

    Hell, it's not all that well accepted here in the US either. My company made the unfortunate decision to use AmEx for our corporate cards - regarding AmEx in Europe, it's hit or miss, maybe slightly less than 50% of the places I've been to in Germany/Belgium/Italy will accept it. Visa or Mastercard is more widely accepted, but as noted, some places don't take plastic at all. I usually just pull out a couple hundred euros at the first ATM I see in the airport when I land.

    Also, don't expect exceptional cell service, even if you spring for the "international" data and calling plans. You'll still be roaming on the local networks, and I've found that my typical service level/bandwidth goes from "somewhat ok" to "oh, crap, I can't pull enough data to use my phone's gps or even send a text". I've found that restarting my phone every few hours keeps me with a better signal, especially if I'm moving between areas (such as Amsterdam to Brussels) that have different regional carriers. And wireless at the hotel/restaurant is your friend.
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
  24. Jwale73

    Jwale73 Poo-Bah (3,721) Aug 15, 2007 Rhode Island

    At least not when I went to Italy 4 years ago. Pre-loaded and Amex Card and couldn't use it anywhere.
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
  25. Dennis-King

    Dennis-King Initiate (59) Jul 21, 2015 United Kingdom (England)

    Redrover likes this.
  26. b-mc-g

    b-mc-g Initiate (166) Mar 12, 2014 Maryland

    Sorry to be a stickler here, but I too am headed to Brussels in July and was curious to pick your brain on your suggestions a bit. I'm trying to search some of the places you suggested in Place Flagey with little luck. I do see the one (Pantin) listed as an authentic style Belgium cafe which sounds cool. Any idea what beers they usually have as opposed to the pricier options you listed before.
  27. papagobrewing

    papagobrewing Initiate (0) Sep 8, 2009 Arizona

    Their beer menu is on their website.
    b-mc-g likes this.
  28. Dave_S

    Dave_S Initiate (48) May 18, 2017 England

    Le Pantin is nice - I don't like to make pronouncements on authenticity, but it has a nice sort-of old-school Paris left-bank cafe vibe. I wouldn't bet on a Belgian bar having exactly the beer list on their website, but what @papagobrewing found is a lot like what I remember - not cutting edge geekbait but enough for a nice drink.

    Amere a Boire is more modern and bar-like but still pretty quirky and individual. Buzzy atmosphere, very arty. Same disclaimers apply, but they've got a beer list up here:

    Le Murmure is also worth sticking your head into if you're in the area. And Belga, on Flagey itself is... interesting? Not a beer geek destination at all, but half of Brussels seems to end up in there at the weekend.
    b-mc-g likes this.
  29. b-mc-g

    b-mc-g Initiate (166) Mar 12, 2014 Maryland

    Thanks for the info. I had trouble finding their proper websites. All valuable info and if their selection is just a bit of what they have listed then it looks worth checking out.

    Any suggestions on where to get Westvleteren around Brussels or is it more of a try your hand at various bars until you find one type of thing?
  30. Socalfan21

    Socalfan21 Initiate (184) Aug 1, 2013 Illinois

    Westy is literally at every tourist beer shop in terms of buying one to go.
  31. Davl22

    Davl22 Aspirant (227) Sep 27, 2011 New Hampshire

    Agreed. Just got back from a trip to Brussels/Bruges and pretty much every shop carries it, so it's just a matter of comparing for the best price. The cheapest I found was in Bruges for 11.50.

    Also, most definitely head to 3F. I enjoyed it much more than Cantillon (although Cantillon was still amazing in a different way). It has a little more of a modern taproom feel, the speciality onsite bottles were incredible(yellow and white peach blend!), and they serve a pate/jam board all made from lambic. Take advantage of their shipping too!
    b-mc-g likes this.
  32. Scottie_A25

    Scottie_A25 Initiate (192) Nov 4, 2013 California

    Hey everyone - I was searching for some information on Westvleteren and came across this thread. I'll be in Brussels in early July and will be renting a car with the intent of driving out to the abbey. I know if you want to pick up a case you need to call well ahead and they register the license plate. How do you handle this if you don't know the plate number beforehand? Or am I just SOL?
  33. Redrover

    Redrover Poo-Bah (3,007) Jan 18, 2003 Illinois

    Look here for some information: