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European Vacation Part III – Belgium Redux

Posted by Cornelia on 10/07/2002 09:56:01 AM

Our bags parked again in the top floor bedroom, we had a DeGraeve house beer from the refrigerator right outside our door while we filled out the hotel paperwork some of the hotels in Belgium use. What’s with that anyway? Not everywhere has us fill it out, some only partially. Oh well, maybe someday we’ll remember to ask for an explanation. Ray discovered we had free use of the laundry while returning the paper work to Jean-Claude (our substitute housekeeper as the DeGraeves were in New York City). Realizing it was almost 8:00 we rushed out to the Beertje to meet Filip and his wife, Katrien. We had a great time just drinking beers in the Beertje and talking with Filip and Katrien about all sorts of things (beer, breweries, brewers, taverns, computers…). At some point Ray became the official photographer for a large group from Mexico City. Asked to take one group picture he suddenly had four or five cameras. In all the excitement I never thought to get a picture of our little group. Beers for the evening were Regenboog’s Pandreitje 2002, Terracotta, Guido, Halloween (thanks, Filip) and Wostyntje and Dupont Moinette. We finally wound our way back to the B&B, sorted laundry, started the first load and placed a Saxo Bio in the fridge for a morning tipple. A pretty good day except a bad cold is starting to settle in for me and Ray is having the first signs of one.

We roused ourselves about 9:00 AM and made a laundry change. Breakfast arrived outside our door and we enjoyed it with a Saxo Bio. That sure beats having to dress and go to a dining room. Our first outing was to the Folklore Museum. I enjoyed this one. It was interesting to see the different aspects of Brugge everyday life in earlier times. We have been to several other tourist sites on previous trips so didn’t have a lot we wanted to tour this time. Another quick trip by the B&B for laundry duty and then out to Erasmus for lunch accompanied by Crombe Zottegems Grand Cru.

We decided to take the “brewery tour” at De Bruges Beerkai. It’s a one-room brewery so there isn’t much touring, just a bit of description about brewing and the equipment by the brewer. Included with the tour fee is a three-beer sampler (which is priced the same as the tour). We had tried them two years before and hadn’t cared for any of them – they were all sour, not intentionally. Somewhere in the last year I got a report that they had improved so we decided to give them a second chance. This time only the Diene Simon (6.5% middle beer) was sour. The 5.5% blonde was drinkable but not note-worthy. The 8.5% was too sweet. As CAMRA members, we could get a second glass of the Special Cuvee, so we gave that one a try as well. It was also drinkable but nothing special. I didn’t see any information describing the Cuvee. All of the beers were served too cold.

From there we just wandered aimlessly about somewhat searching for a shop I had seen three years before that sold ladies’ clothing with embroidered Tex Avery cartoon characters Droopy and Drippy. We never found the shop, must have closed. To assuage my disappointment, we stopped in at the café Sint Joris on the Markt for a Duvel and a little crowd watching. Time’s awasting and we have to repack once again. We shared a Boerke (thanks, Joris) as we took care of that chore. As has become a tradition now, we found ourselves at De Hobbit for dinner. The beer selection is pretty limited but I had a very good pasta dish and Ray had all-you-can-eat ribs all accompanied by Straffe Hendrik Blonde. After dinner we crossed the street to the Beertje. If you’re wondering why we haven’t made it to many of the other cafes in Brugge, it’s because Tuesday and Wednesday are possible the worst days for pubcrawling in Brugge. Many of the ones we wanted to visit were closed. I’ve got to remember that next time I plan a stay in Brugge. Back at the Beertje, we ordered a Grimbergen Optimo Bruno and a Helleketelbier and just chatted while watching and listening to the folks around us. I overheard one table of two women mention they were from Portland, Oregon, to a group of four (one man, three women) who responded that they were from Denver, Colorado. As they talked, the man mentioned he was a beer writer and musician. Lightbulbs went off in my head and I began to wonder if this might be Marty Jones (of the CD left with Anders in Sweden) who I knew did some writing for Celebrator Beer Magazine. I asked Ray if I should go over and ask as they were getting ready to leave. He said he would, wandered over and asked “did I hear something about Denver?” The man stood up and said “yeah, Hi, I’m Marty.” Ray followed with “Marty Jones?” Marty followed with a surprised yeah and Ray added “of the Pork Boiling Poor Boys?” Talk about one surprised individual. Marty and wife, Lisa, with Lisa’s mother and a friend were on their very first trip to Europe and someone recognized him a small café in Brugge! I had purchased Marty’s two CDs via his internet site a couple of months before and really enjoyed them. He even emailed me asking how someone in North Carolina had heard of him. After introductions all around, as they were from Denver Ray mentioned the Beerdrinker of the Year title - seemed Marty actually judged the resumes for the 2002 competition. Marty’s wife had heard of me and was delighted to meet the female winner. We found out all would be in Brussels the next day, discussed meeting for drinks or dinner and gave them our hotel name. After a couple of photos, their group left and Ray and I settled back down to a couple of Christmas beers Daisy brought out for us – Dubbel Palm (very unexciting) and Leroy Christmas. Just as we were preparing to leave, Marty returned having been sent out by the women because he was too excited to settle down. We all ordered another round and had a great time talking about things beery and musical, political and travel-related. We even confessed to having copied his CD for the trip and that we had passed it on to a friend. He forgave us and actually seemed pleased that it had been included in the six. It really is a small world. (Just for fun - one of the songs on Marty’s second CD immortalizes the Falling Rock in song – it’s titled “Drinkin’ in Every Bar in Town”.)

It was raining when we rose the next morning so we opted to head onward to Brussels when ready rather than spend a little more time wandering about Brugge. We shared a nice Malheur 10 while finishing up the packing. Jean-Claude gave us a ride to the train station saving us cab fare. We should have called when we arrived, he would have picked us up as well. This is standard for the DeGraeve B&B but since they were out of town, I didn’t assume he would also. All in all, this is a really great place – 42 Euro for a double (shared bath the only option) with free use of laundry and pick-up and drop-off at the train station. That is hard to beat. I also liked getting breakfast delivered so we didn’t have to dress. The décor is a bit odd but interesting.

After an uneventful train and cab ride to the Hotel Welcome, we settled in. We finally had internet capabilities again! We chilled a Bush Blonde in the sink (thanks again, Joris), shared it and picked up email. A quick glance at the BBB let us know that Mark would not be able to meet us on Friday night so we were glad we had checked. We left the hotel, picked up a couple of 10 trip metro cards and headed to Lop Lop for beer and lunch. We had eaten there a couple of years before but it seems they no longer have snacks. We finished our draft Malheur Blondes and went to Les Postiers for lunch accompanied by an Orval and a Rochefort 8 (www.lespostiers.com). We stopped back by the room to confirm a meeting with an acquaintance, Stephen, for Thursday evening. Quickly back out the door we were on a mission for Glenn Burnett - find Pierre Zuber’s shop and leave him a message. While wandering about in the vicinity of Grand Place, we ran into Marty and group at the Mannekin Pis. We talked for a minute, determined we would not try to meet later, said our good-byes and ducked into the café across the street for a Gulden Drak and rest stop. We pin-pointed where the shop should be on the map and found it now with no trouble – we must have needed a beer! I left Glenn’s message and we did a little beer shopping. CBBD strikes again. It is almost impossible to enter a beer shop without buying something.

At this point, we were both feeling somewhat poorly from wandering about in the rain with colds and Ray was even beginning to lose his voice. We opted for a takeout pizza to share spending the evening resting and sampling the beers from Pierre’s shop while watching some strange BBC programs. We started with a Gouden Carolus Ambrio at 6.5% (a new beer he did not charge us for as he had not priced them yet) which was very good. Next was a Cuvee de Trolls at 7.0% that was pretty nondescript, especially after the Ambrio. The last for the evening was a Boelens Kerstbier which had a very explosive opening. Thank goodness Ray was still in the bathroom and not holding it over the bed. We also bought a Gouden Carolus Christmas beer (750 ml) which was new. Pierre had not priced it either and just charged us 5 euro for it. It made it all the way home to await the holidays.

We were up and ready to venture out in time to get some breakfast. Hotel Welcome has breakfast from 7:30 AM until late, as hotelier Michel put it, which suits our style fine. Ray wanted to go to the flea market I had noted, so off we went. As we neared the site, we realized we had done this before and decided it really wasn’t worth the trek. We’ve got to remember that next time. We made our way to Bier Circus for lunch. I had been craving a bowl of the spaghetti with Chimay. Ray chose the mussels in Rochefort. Both were excellent. We accompanied the meal with Bink Bloesom (very good), Chimay White draft, Beiken (another of my favorites) and La Divine. We left Bier Circus and took the metro to Cantillon for a tour. It had been three years and we thought we would do it again – wanted to buy some beer anyway. We picked up two bottles of Fou Foune at 4.10 euro (I mention the price because it is 13 euro at Bier Circus) and a 1999 Lou Pepe Gueuze. These also made it all the way home. We dropped the beer by the room and then went to dinner at La Galettiere, a crepe restaurant next door to Pierre Zuber’s shop. The beer list was interesting in that they were all from Unibroue of Canada. We tried the Bolduc as we had never had it before. We weren’t particularly impressed but it has great ratings on ratebeer.com. Maybe it had not travelled/aged well. Anyway, the food was good so it wasn’t a total loss. We wandered about for a while and then headed to Porte Noire for the evening’s rendezvous. Porte Noire was a new café for us. It’s an interesting cellar bar with three different rooms - more like caves. There was a band setting up in the main cave so we expected it to be too loud for conversation. While waiting for Stephen, we had a Duvel Vert (no need for another). We moved on to another cave once the band started playing. Other beers during the evening at Porte Noire were Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux, draft Bornem Triple, draft Gouden Carolus, Fantome Noel and Guldenburg. From Porte Noire, we moved on to another café new to us, La Fleuren Papier Doree, for a night cap – Duvel and Orval. This turned into a second round before we finally stumbled back to the hotel making it in around 2:00 AM.

Our last full day and we made it to breakfast once again. Our first stop for the day’s outing was the Chocolate Museum on Grand Place. It was OK but definitely not worth 5 euro each – 2 maybe. It can surely be missed. While at the Grand Place, we decided to give the Les Brasseurs brewpub a second try. There were four beers and after a year they and the service were still unimpressive. It’s likely we won’t stop in there again.

We then went to lunch at a Thai/Viet restaurant a couple of Continental flight attendants had said was good – Lune de Miel (15 rue Jules Van Praet). It was a very enjoyable meal accompanied by Duvel. Next stop was AutoWorld – a museum housing a collection of over 450 automobiles from the very earliest models up to recent years. It’s a pretty impressive collection – probably more interesting to Ray than me. After that we stopped in at Café Mappa to try the new beer from Moortgat, Vedett. It was better than the Vert but I would still order Duvel instead. As we wandered down Marche aux Grains I noticed an awning with “Belgo cuisine” or something like that and checked out the menu board. We had run across a restaurant with beer cuisine so decided we would return there for dinner. We went back to the hotel to complete the final packing. Once done, we made our way back to “La Villette” on the corner of Marche aux Grains and Rue de Flandre. What a great find! A nice beer list and wonderful food. We chose an Abbaye de Rocs but on the way out the door spied a bottle of Cantillon “Lazy” Gueuze. We will definitely return here.

After dinner, we headed to Bier Circus for our last evening’s imbibing. For starters, we had a Caves (too sweet) and Bink Blonde (not as good as Bloesom). Next was a De Bie Plokkersbier (good) and La Gouyasse (also good). While enjoying the second round a trio of American men arrived and seated themselves next to us. They noticed the Rogue logo Ray’s shirt and started a conversation. Their names were Todd, Michael and Rob and were from Wichita, Kansas. We discovered we had several mutual acquaintances at Rogue. I believe Rob owns an adult beverage store in Wichita. After asking for food suggestions, they all went for the spaghetti bowl and ordered a large appetizer tray of meats and cheeses. They were later to regret the appetizer as none could finish the spaghetti and these didn’t look like light eaters! Todd was very gregarious. We talked a lot about where they had traveled, how they were enjoying the trip and such. It seems Todd is a collector of beer bottles with over 2000 at home. He eyed Ray’s removal of beer labels (we collect them, carry a small razor to help remove them) with envy as he had not decided which of the bottles he had collected he would be able to get home. We told him labels were a lot lighter and easier to store and gave him hints on removing them at his hotel. Our third round of beer included Lam Gods and Saint Monon Amber. We must have really been enjoying the conversation as I made no notes other than the names from there until the end of our evening. A fourth round of Bieken and Westvleteren 12 was followed by a last of Ligor Blonde from French Brasserie Nantaise. The trio from Wichita left during round four with a parting gift of our razor for label removal. We finished up our beers and headed to the metro only to find we had missed the last train. On foot once again we made our way back to the hotel for the last time - this trip!

European Vacation Part III – Belgium Redux - Cornelia, 10/07/02 09:56:01 AM
        Beer label removing tips - MikeK, 10/08/02 08:51:02 AM
                Re: Beer label removing tips - Cornelia, 10/08/02 09:26:13 AM
                        Re: Beer label removing tips - MikeK, 10/08/02 01:40:18 PM
                                Re: Beer label removing tips - Cornelia, 10/08/02 01:43:55 PM
        Very interesting write-ups Cornelia. Loved to read them (nfm) - Filip Geerts, 10/08/02 05:17:37 AM
        Re: European Vacation Part III – Belgium Redux - Mark A, 10/07/02 11:50:25 AM
                Re: European Vacation Part III – Belgium Redux - Chuck Cook, 10/08/02 10:54:49 AM
                        Re: European Vacation Part III – Belgium Redux - Mark A, 10/08/02 11:00:18 AM
                                Re: European Vacation Part III – Belgium Redux - Chuck Cook, 10/08/02 11:41:01 AM
                Marty Jones. - Cornelia, 10/07/02 01:15:21 PM

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