Belgian Days--Episode III
Posted by matt dinges on 04/24/2003 11:25:21 PM
Finally...the end of my trip in March.
The next day(coming from Bouillon) we had planned to go to Dinant and stay there that night. However, we were slightly bored with the lack of nightlife in these towns so far. Mid-week in March and not much is happening. It had been nice enough the first couple of nights as we adjusted to the jet lag and got rested, but now we were ready to go!
We decided to pass through Dinant, try and hit the Caracole brewery (which I figured was closed), then speed into Brussels to enjoy the night at Bier Circus that United Airlines had unmercifully robbed us of previously. This proved quite wise.
While Dinant was yet another picturesque town along a river, it was quite small and when we rolled in at mid-day the traffic through those little streets was bumper-to-bumper and slow. The one hotel tip we had was located right on the main drag, and no matter what, it seemed like it would have been quite noisy come early morning.
After the only real misdirection of the driving trip, we did find Caracole. We were told that they were closed to the public until April, but a very kind man gave us a quick look around. There were some Dingmansí malt bags lying around, but the most interesting thing was the mash and boil room of this old place. The boil is conducted over a live wood fire. To ventilate it, they apparently just leave the roof in ill-repair as I could see right through it in several spots. We chatted for about 5 minutes with him and were sent off happy, but without samples. Those would be taken care of at Bier Circus later.
Back to Brussels, another night at the Sheraton(they gave us the_same_room which I thought was a bit odd). I also got stuck in a revolving door there for about 20-25 minutes. One of the odder happenings in my life.
We then returned to Delices to restock. He threw in another one on the house. He really packages things well there. All the biers were either wrap in corragated cardboard or put into a box. The glasses were also packaged in bubble wrap. Perfect for packing into my suitcase and not having to worry much. This was the only bottle shop I got to besides Bierkonig and supermarkets.
After that we stopped by a bar that had Malheur. I got the 8(?), Laura the 6(?) and we switched back and forth. We both preferred the 8 to the 6, but the 12 beats them both in my book. But maybe it was a 10? After that, it was Bier Circus time.
I know that Jeremy was interested to know how it compared to my memory of it from 5 years ago, so Iíll give it my best shot. Recall though, I was practically a BB virgin at the time. First off, the place was much brighter than I recall. It almost seems like it could have been partially renovated to me. I remember it as being dark, and it is now quite bright. The chairs and tables are still small and uncomfortable though, after a couple biers this goes unnoticed. The bier menu had changed. Gone were all the pages of vintage biers. I think I recall hearing that the vintage menu could be looked at upon request, but I didnít require it.
There was still quite a few biers I had been wanting to try on the menu, and unlike my previous visits there, I was never told that they were out of stock on any of them. It still has the best BB list Iíve seen, maybe not as many "oddities" as we'd like? There are also plenty of great bars I've yet to visit.
I got to have my first Achel, and Westvleteren on this trip(guess which I like better). Here is our drinking list for Bier Circus: Achel Brune 8, Carcole Ambree, Saxo, Boskeun, Hercule, Postel Dubbel(au fut), Montagnarde, Westvl 12, Biere de Ours, and Rulles Blonde. We also had the spaghetti which was perfect.
The next day we trained to Amsterdam, and hit the Cafť Belgique (which I managed to find by memory spot on from 5 years previous). I tried Ďt IJ brews they had on tap (Paas bier and Vlo) as well as a Rochefort 10.
The following day we went to IJ for a tour and beers where I sampled the rest of their available brews(the tour guide was wearing a Hair of the Dog T-shirt, when I asked him about it he said that Alan had visited there and brought some Eve with him!), then headed to Wildman.
Our last day, we went to the gardens at Keukenhof and back to Wildman. After Bier Circus, both Belgique and Wildman were a little tame(as far as bier goes at least), although Wildman did offer some Dutch biers for me to sample.
The bier Iím most interested in, however, is a German brew called St. Georgen(sp?) Landbier. It was from the tap. Low alcohol(~4.7%ABV) but very nice. I thought it might have been an alt, but one of the patrons there said it was more like a dark pilsner??? This was the last bier I had on the trip, the keg had just been tapped as I was leaving the bar, but I wanted to stay and drink more. If anybody can tell me anything more about this beer, please do.
Sam Adams Winter Lager was the bier of the week there, which made me laugh. Some regulars said that it had been the bier of the week for about 4 weeks!
The entire trip was great. The scenery in the Ardennes lived up to my expectations, although the bier scene was slightly lacking due mostly to the timing of our visit. I didnít see any place to unseat Bier Circus as my favorite bier bar. Amsterdam is full of crazies, but we did meet some decent locals in Da Wildman, which itself was enjoyable and unique in the fact that it has a non-smoking room. I didnít spend much time counting biers on lists, but I think most people here know what to expect. I also didnít include a lot of the names of bars and hotels, Jeremyís trip log does a good job of that as well as Tim Webbís Guide. However if anybody wants something more specific Iíll be glad to try and find it out. The rough numbers of my drink list are a total of 56_different_biers being consumed, with 50 being completely knew to me.
Here is what I drank:
Rochefort 8 &10, Ciney Blonde, Markloff Bier, Ducheese De Bourgogne, XX Bitter, Triple Karmelite, Níice Chouffe, La Chouffe, Mc Chouffe, BeleVue Geuze, Fantome, Flop(fantome), Pissenlit(fantome), De Konnick, Saison Biologe, Dulle Teve, La Divine, Augustyn Gran Cru, St. Bernardus Abt 12, Rochertoise Blonde, Malheur 6, 8, & 12, Maredsous 10, Achel Brune 8, Caracole Ambree, Saxo, Nostradamos, Boskeun, Hercule, Postel Dubbel, De Rocs Montagnarde, Watou Tripel, St Feuillien Brune, Oerbier, Westvleterren 12, Biere des Ours, Rulles Blonde, La Gauloise Blonde, Passbier, Vlo, Zatte, Columbus, Plzn, Anchor Old Foghorn, Caspars Max Triple, Alfa Superdort, Zeezuiper, Cuvee de Trolles, Gordons X-mas, Orval (low alc.), Orval, La Gauloise Brune, Kwel Chouffe, St. Georgen Landbier, Abbey De Rocs
Biers I brought back:
(1)Malheur Biere Brut(75cl), (2)Malheur 12 (25cl), Watou Tripel(75cl), Bernardus 12(33cl), Bernardus 8, Tripel(75cl), Fantome, De Noel, Pissenlit(75cls), (3)Dulle Teve, Oerbier, Ara bier, Rocherfort 8 & 10, Queue De Charrue Ploegsteert Brune, Espirit Dí Achouffe(50cl), Chouffe Coffee.
Thanks to all of you for your help in my preparation for this tripócanít wait for the next one.
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