A wet day in Brussels.
Posted by Mat W on 10/28/2002 12:59:06 PM
Friday 25th October 2002.
A group of us arranged a day out to Brussels on the Eurostar and we met up at 08.00 at Waterloo on an awfully wet day and travelled on the 08.27 Eurostar to Brussels. The train was delayed getting to the tunnel mouth due to other late running services and we eventually tipped out at Brussels some 25 minutes late ( typical – you get a free trip if its 30 minutes late !).
After a bit of faffing about in Midi in order to get cash and tram/metro tickets for the day we finally managed to walk over to the Cantillon brewery for a quick snifter of the lambic.
First problem, one of our group, Colin, didn’t drink beer. Ah! A slight flaw then as the planned route involved a lot of ‘beer only’ bars and not much in the way of spirits. He sat and watched us all savouring 2 bottles of Lou Pepe Framboise with a sulk on his face and he was even more miffed when he found that he quite liked the smell but hated the taste when he was eventually convinced to try some.
JP Van Roy very kindly waived the price of the second bottle but still charged us the €1 to enter.
We decided to hold a whip ( calm down! ) and each put €20 into the pot (I said calm down!).
From the brewery we dripped back to Midi where I decided that as we weren’t too late we could probably make last orders at the Bier Circus. Correct. We arrived at 14.05 and Patrick was happy to let us have a second round at 14.25, even though I suspect he was itching to get out to do something as he kept staring at his watch.
The BC was advertising as having a Breton beer festival, although most of the good stuff was sold out. Two of us shared a 75 cl. bottle of Ambree du Bouffay (7%) from La Brasserie Bouffay in Carquefou near Nantes. It was a bit cold when first served but as it began to warm a little the flavours began to improve but I was still not that impressed with it. A little thin for my liking.
Poor old Colin was a bit miffed to find that there was no rum in this pub either ( he only drinks rum and coke ~ Bit of waste of time coming to Brussels then wasn’t it!!)
Next we split a 75 cl. bottle of Passe-Sedan Stout from the La Cooperative brewery – one of my favourite Belgian beers, but again bollock freezing cold when served, so much so that the first 3 mouthfuls were absolutely tasteless. Needless to say I left mine on the table for a while and cupped my hands around the glass to try and warm it up to a drinkable temperature before Patrick kicked us out.
It was still pissing down outside and we just tucked our heads in and headed off to try and find La Mort Subite, as one of the guys wanted to go there “for the atmosphere”.
I found the street I thought it was on ( Rue Montagnes ) only to be unable to find the pub. We wandered on towards the grand place and I tried to steer them away from the Brasserie du Crap on the corner but they spotted it, after walking down the street it was on to look at the Market place despite my best efforts.
I had a small glass of the Brune, which to my surprise after my last visit, wasn’t as bad as I remembered it to be. It had a robust flavour, kept it’s head, and had a good alcoholic nose. I may, just may, go back again. ( A taste of one of the others glass of Blond convinced me that maybe the pub was a bad move, however ).
Alan, one of the group spent most of the time on his mobile trying to meet up with 3 friends who were in the city as well. We eventually agreed to meet one of them, Molly, in the Mort Subite ( now that we realised that it was on rue Montagnes aux Herbes Potagčres ).
We trudged through the crowds of shoppers and tourists all crammed into the galleries Royal St. Hubert and came out right by the Mort S. Easy when you know how.
I decided to risk a bottle of the ‘Mort Subite Gueuze sur lie’, just in case it was the real thing, but alas it was the awful 4% sugared version and went straight back down the table to someone else who was sharing the bottle. I decided instead to have a Rochefort 8 – far more reliable. Colin was okay as they had a small selection of spirits on the bar.
Molly arrived at this point. Not a beautiful girl as expected but a 6 foot rugby playing slob from Hobart in Tasmania. Talk about disappointed, and you couldn’t even take the piss out of his name in case he hit you. As for taste in beer, he wouldn’t drink anything other that ’LAGER’ so I bought him a Grimbergen Blond and he didn’t seem to notice the difference.
From the Mort Subite we tracked back though the Arcade and turned right half way down and walked passed all the restaurants with their fishy displays outside, turning left after about 50 yards and sharp left again into a small alley and into the ‘Estaminet Theatre Royale de Toone’ with its amazing puppets on the wall.
Oh dear. No rum here either. Colin decided that enough was enough and disappeared not to be seen again until the train home.
One of the lads was beginning to get into the spirit of the day ( he had drunk too much already after 4 beers? ) so we tried him on a Kwak, he thought this was great, especially when it came in a stupid glass.
We on the other hand had the new Bosteels brew, Cuvee du Atomium, he beer brewed from 7 different grains. It is an amazingly smooth beer with a lovely creamy taste.
From the Toone, we headed back out towards the Grand Place, visited the beer shop where I bought a few beers for the train home ( 75cl Het Anker Gouden Carolus Christmas; 75cl Fantome Automne (unable to drink as none of us had a cork screw and neither did the catering crew of the train ); 33cl Regenboog Terracotta; and finally a 33cl Regenboog Halloween.).
A bit silly really as that is 3 less beers I will need at Antwerp this weekend.
Well loaded down we started the long walk back to the station. It was about 5.30pm at this time so we had a while to go yet. We managed to meet up with friend no 2 at the next bar, the Poechenellekelder opposite the pissing midget, where I had a bottle of Cantillon Kriek which was superb.
Time was pressing now so we scampered up the hill to the Porte Noire for a final beer. Two of us split a bottle of Fantome de Noel ( U.S. recipe but I forgot to look and see which year it was. It was a wonderfully aromatic miss as you would expect the beer to be. One of Dany’s true masterpieces, unfortunately lost on partner no.2 who thought it was off. Shame just have to drink the whole bottle then.
Friend number 3 eventually arrived about 5 minutes before we had to leave
We made the train home by the skin of out teeth ( about 2 minutes before the desks shut ) and had an eventful trip home. On time as far as Frethun ( Calais dear!) whereupon we waited, and waited and waited, and eventually crawled off towards and finally though the tunnel. One of the car trains had set off a smoke alarm apparently and in order to stop a train on the opposite line from travelling too far into the tunnel, towards the train that had set off the alarms, the signaller radioed the train to stop, It did so but the act of stopping quickly caused the brakes to seize on so that was that line blocked as well.
We reached Waterloo at about 10.20, but no free tickets being handed out “not out fault” etc, etc.
Some of the tour party began to look the worse for wear and headed home, but Dave and I set off for the Market Porter at London Bridge ( an excellent free house beloved by most ale fans in London ). Dave departed at 22.57 and managed to get a lock in at the Wheatsheaf ( a Young’s pub) next door and I wobbled back to Liverpool St and my train home after long but thoroughly enjoyable day out.
See you next weekend for part 2, and 3.
All pubs chosed from the CAMRA publication, 'A Selective Guide to Brussels Bars' by Shhhh!!! You know who.
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