Belgium Spending 2 days in Belgium (Brussels)

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Bonzopookie, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. Bonzopookie

    Bonzopookie Mar 5, 2012 Massachusetts

    Hello,

    I will be attending to the Starkbierfest in Munich next year, and I am planning to finish my trip in Brussels, Belgium. I have never been to Europe before, and I will (unfortunately) only have 2 days to spend in Belgium. I am looking to find some good Belgian beer bars, that will offer me my favorite Belgian beer styles on tap: strong ales, dubbels, tripels, and quads.

    If possible, I am also hoping to take a day trip to a Trappist brewery somewhere in the country. Or else, day trip to a city that can offer me a fine tasting (Rochefort would be awesome, or Westvleteren, obviously). However, I am not sure how difficult it will be for a dummy like myself to do this, especially on limited time and budget. Any travel advice about getting around and finding some really nice beer cafes with a decent selection of Belgian strong ales that I prefer, would be much appreciated!

    Thanks.

    B
     
  2. Ruds

    Ruds Sep 15, 2008 United Kingdom (England)


    You can get to the Westmalle tap from Brussels in about 90 minutes on public transport, train to Antwerp then bus

    Personally the beer tastes the same whether it's at source or in a bar in a bottle, but if you want to visit the site I get you but you will eat up your time!

    Westvleteren will take more time and effort on your limited schedule

    Rochefort- not been so not sure?
     
  3. UncleJimbo

    UncleJimbo Sep 11, 2002 Massachusetts
    Site Editor Subscriber Beer Trader

    Next year?? Is that a typo?
     
  4. Bonzopookie

    Bonzopookie Mar 5, 2012 Massachusetts

    Thanks Rud! I appreciate your advice! I agree with you, too. I am leaning towards spending my time in Brussels (since I won't have much time there), and trying to find some nicer beer cafes to enjoy. I don't want to waste a lot of time, driving around to a Monestary that I won't even be able to get into. Again, I prefer drinking Belgian strong ales, trappists, and wittbiers, over Lambics (although I definitely plan on trying some Lambics too, obviously).

    @UncleJimbo - I know it might seem rather crazy for me to be posting this far in advance, but I am indeed going next year (March 2013, to be exact). My German Starkbierfest reservation is already booked. So, I am trying to figure out how I can best utilize my remaining 2 days. I hope to enjoy some of my favorite Belgian beers at the end of my trip, and I figured it is better to be prepared early on! (Let's face it, I can hardly contain my excitement for finally heading overseas).
     
  5. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    Are you stopping somewhere in between Munich and Brussels? It's just occurring to me that Düsseldorf might be a good place for you to overnight. Their Altstadt is jam packed with bars serving some of the best altbier in the world, if you're into that sort of thing. Only 2.5 hours from Brussels by train and kinda/sorta along the way if you're taking the train from Munich. Just something to consider.
     
  6. epk

    epk Jun 10, 2008 New Jersey

    If you want to hit Westy, you might want to consider Bruges. You can drive out south from there. Brussels of course is great and where you will find more beer bars, but Bruges is simply picturesque. You can also find De Halve Maan in Bruges, the Straffe Hendrik brewery.

    Sticking with Brussels, there are plenty of places to hit up. Check BA's Brussels places list: http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/city/24

    And don forget about Cantillon. Check ther hours before you go and I recommend taking a cab depending on where you are staying (either way they are in a less than touristy area)
     
  7. Bonzopookie

    Bonzopookie Mar 5, 2012 Massachusetts

    wow! Great suggestions from you both. Thank you both so much. I love altbier. Although I am going to the Starbierfest, I also will be able to visit Bamberg, Nurnberg, and a few other areas around Munich. I do plan on taking the train to Brussels. I hope I can find a good rate. I am not very good with any languages other than English, so hopefully I can figure out what to do. I brought a CD to help me learn some basic German, but I probably won't develop a very good handle on the language. I will have to see whether I can make a stop in Düsseldorf though. It sounds like it is a must see! I am sure I will be overwhelmed by the entire cultural experience.

    Thanks too for the advice, EPK. I doubt I will be able to get to the Westy area (unfortunately), but I am strongly considering Brugges. I could probably take a train to there as well? Also, would the beer scene in Brugges offer me more in terms of experiencing Belgian abbey and strong ales? Although I will definitely make my way to Cantillion to try some Lambics, I still hope to try some unique and fresh Belgian ales. I am going to look into the breweries you mention (I never heard of Straff Hendrick - at least, that I am aware of). Luckily for me, I still haven't booked my exact flights as of yet. I know my duration in Germany, however I just might have to extend my Belgian plans for another day. Even if I end up penniless afterward :D
     
  8. woosterbill

    woosterbill Apr 6, 2009 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    Based on the recommendation of my host, I wasted one of my four days in Belgium taking a day trip to Rochefort. I urge you not to do the same: you can't actually visit the abbey, the cafés in town have basically no interesting beers besides Rochefort, and if you want to drink Rochefort there are places to do it cheaper in Brussels. The countryside was scenic enough, but far less spectacular than I was made to believe.

    There's so much to do in Brussels alone that, since you only have two days, I'd recommend you don't venture too far afield. I'd say spend one day doing just the Brussels cafés - both Moeder Lambics are amazing, as well as Bier Circus - and one day at De Heeren van Liedekerke. It's worth the 20 minute train ride and half-hour walk.

    If you have even a passing interest in Lambics, I'd also suggest (if you're there on a Friday or Saturday) you head down to Beersel to visit Drie Fonteinen. That place is as close to heaven as I've ever found.
     
  9. UncleJimbo

    UncleJimbo Sep 11, 2002 Massachusetts
    Site Editor Subscriber Beer Trader

    I have taken a train from Bamberg to Brussels or vice versa several times. The train goes through Köln, so it is easy to stop there or make a small detour to Düsseldorf. The train fares vary depending on how far in advance you buy the ticket. However, since you probably do not want to be constrained to a specific date or time, you have other options such as buying a Eurorail pass for Germany/Belgium. I have used these a few times. The passes are not the absolute cheapest way to travel by train, but they are a good value and allow for flexibility.

    Check out Bahn.com's English website to search for time tables and fares.

    There are various websites where you can buy Eurorail passes, but the one I have used a few times is Railpass.com.
     
  10. epk

    epk Jun 10, 2008 New Jersey

    Drinking great beers is one thing, but I like to take in the history and culture of places I visit as well (as I'm sure most people do). Certainly you'll hit cafes as Woosterbill has suggested but make sure to stroll through the city and take it all in as well. Delirium Cafe (Brussels) is another nice one - albeit a tourist attraction for sure, it's in a central location around the Markt.

    Brussels is certainly going to beat Bruges as far as the scene in general goes, but there is a few worthy beer stops in Bruges, Cambrinus being one. There is also Cafe Vlissinghe (sadly it was closed when we went) which apparently doesn't have the best list but does hold claim to being one of the oldest continuously open pub in the world (dating to 1515).

    If you do add the 3rd day, I'd say hit Bruges first for a day - it's pretty easy to sight see that city in a day. Then spend the last 2 days in Brussels - this way you'll already be close to the airport and you will not have to worry about timing things with train schedules as much.

    EDIT: by the way, this is the beer list at Cambrinus in Bruges. I don't think you'll have a problem finding what you need there.

    EDIT EDIT: Speaking of Lambics, believe it or not you can even find those in grocery stores - well at least he macro brands - like Belle-Vue (AB-InBev I believe)... which by the way, I liked their Belle Vue Gueuze. It was like a smooth Gueuze for beginners - wish they imported it here. It's not a good example of a gueuze per se, but there was just something I really enjoyed about it.
     
  11. Bonzopookie

    Bonzopookie Mar 5, 2012 Massachusetts

    Once again, much appreciated and great advice from everyone! I actually will be confined to a certain time schedule, although I understand that traveling Europe is best when you aren't limiting yourself to exact timelines.

    Luckily, I am traveling with a small group, to attend the Starkbierfest. During that week, I will be able to see Bamberg, Nuremburg, Regensburg, and Andechs. I will be going with the flow of the group during that week, based on a general itinerary (provided by a fellow beer-lover who has done this many, many times before). On that Sunday, I will be left pretty much on my own though, which is when I plan on extending my trip and heading towards Belgium for another week. Thanks to the advice on here, I am definitely going to stop into Düsseldorf and Köln now, on my train ride over.I already was advised to check out the Bahn site (which is where I will most likely be booking my train).

    I now plan on staying in Düsseldorf for 2 nights actually (so I can visit Uerige and Zum Schlussel at night), and then hop a train down the next AM, to explore Köln and try some Kolsch beers too (probably check out Sunner and Malzmuhle). After that, I am going to take a train to Bruges, and spend a night/day there. I plan on going to Straffe Hendrik. Finally, my last day, I plan on heading to Brussels (in the AM). I will spend the day/evening there and fly out later the next day.

    In Brussels, I will probably limit myself to the Cafe's, and maybe take a beer tour (not sure if that will be wasting my time though, when I could do my own homework instead). Thanks Wooster, for the info on Rochefort. I figured as much. Living in Boston, the last thing I feel like doing on a vacation is renting a car and trying to navigate the streets of a foreign country. Hopefully, i can make it back to Belgium in the future, and explore the Benelux region a bit more (combined with the UK too, hopefully).

    Thanks again for everything. I am trying to arrange my budget accordingly, which is why I am talking about this so far in advance. Plus, I never have been to Europe before, so this is a big deal for me. Although I plan on doing my homework ahead of time (learning customs, language, and culture), I just hope I can understand what the heck I am doing, getting around when I am all by myself!
     
  12. epk

    epk Jun 10, 2008 New Jersey

    Enjoy your trip! I'm very jealous - I have yet to get to Germany.

    I'm also glad we swayed you to give Bruges a try. I know it's a bit of a rush to fit them both in for 2 days but everyone should see it once. Watch this moving before you go, lol.

    How long is the train ride between the two? Even if it's a little long, at least it might be a nice scenic ride.
     
  13. Bonzopookie

    Bonzopookie Mar 5, 2012 Massachusetts

    lol...thanks for the link. I will definitely have to check it out now. I am not sure how long the train ride is between Bruges and the Dusseldorf/Cologne area, but I think i read somewhere between 4 & 6 hours. Thanks again for the info though. I will definitely be reporting back about my experiences.
     
  14. theworldorbust

    theworldorbust Aug 28, 2014

  15. ventura78

    ventura78 Nov 22, 2003 Massachusetts

    Not sure if you know it, but the last person to post on this thread was almost 2.5 years ago.
     
    #15 ventura78, Aug 29, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  16. Stevenwings

    Stevenwings Jan 15, 2014 Belgium
    Beer Trader

  17. SStein

    SStein Dec 26, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Zombie thread, watch out beer has the power to restore life.
     
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