Drinking in Brussels
Posted by Mark on 09/29/2003 05:17:59 AM
The best cafe in central Brussels is still Le Bier Circus (89 Rue L'Enseignement) with around 200 beers, including quite a few from small Wallonian brewers. Also has La Chouffe, Maredsous 6 and Chimay Tripel on tap (if you like that sort of thing !) plus a weekly changing guest beer. There is also an "aged beer" list available with some old Gueuzes and Trappists, but you have to specifically ask for the aged beer list (it isn't included in the main beer list). You should however be aware that the Bier Circus is CLOSED on Saturday and Sunday.
Next best range in the city centre, and a rising star in my book, is Le Porte Noir (67 Rue des Alexiens). This is a superb ancient cellar bar with an excellent range of about 120 beers, including about 8 on tap. Always has one or two "suprises" on tap ... it had Gulden Draak last time I was there. And despite what Stephen D'Arcy says in his Selective Guide, Le Porte Noir is NOT the smokiest bar in Brussels. I have been in there at least 10 times and never once had any issues with smoke (and I hate smokey bars). A great bar, well worth a visit.
A word of warning about Lop Lop (29 Rue D'Ecuyer) ... I popped in there at the end of June, about 2 weeks before I moved back to the UK. The beer list had dropped considerably from a peak of about 100 down to, at a guess, about 40 - 50. To be honest, this bar has been going down hill slowly since Andy Barrett sold up over 2 years ago. Still worth a visit, as it has live music on most weekends and the clientele are usually quite "entertaining" themselves. You will still find some decent beers, but not as many as there used to be. Has it's own Lop Lop Beer on tap, brewed by De Landtsheer (Malheur).
You should also be aware that the lovely old Cafe Le Zageman (116 Rue De Laeken) is closed Saturday and Sunday, and closes at 8.00pm every other evening except the first Friday of the month, where it stays open as long as there are sufficient numbers of drinkers to justify staying open. But it is worth getting into Brussels early to visit this wonderful old bar and it's excellent range of Lambics / Gueuzes. If you can't find the gueuze you want on the list, just ask Le Patron ... chances are he will have some in stock.
The Poechenellekelder (5 Rue Du Chene) is directly opposite the Mannekin Pis and has a range of about 50 beers, most of which are good quality beers. But the cafe itself is probably of greater interest than the beers and once you have taken in all the puppets and marionettes in the cafe, you can relax with a beer and laugh at all the Japanese tourists taking pictures of the little pissing boy !!
Also worth a visit is Le Toone (off 21 Petit Rude Des Bouchers), a lovely old wooden bar which is in a working puppet theatre. Difficult to find up a blind alley in amongst all the fish markets, but worth a trip. Has Cantillon, a good range of Trappists and the not often found Kwak on tap.
Then if you are feeling adventurous and are willing to get on a bus or tram, you should make your way out to St. Gilles and the legendary Moeder Lambic (68 Rue Savoie, St. Gilles). Still has the biggest selection in "greater Brussels), but doesn't have the 1000+ that it claims to stock ... somewhere between 300 and 500 beers is probably nearer the mark, but is still a phenominal range for any bar.
It is also worth making your way out towards Universite Libre Bruxelles (Free University of Brussels) and to L'Atelier (77 Rue d'Elise) which is on the border of Ixelles and Etterbeek. Stocks over 200 beers and is always fairly lively with the students from the University. And the good thing is the beers are at "student prices" ... i.e. cheaper than you will find in the city centre.
These are the best bars for beer in Brussels. There are also some beautifully ornate and original cafes in Brussels, including Le Cirio, A La Mort Subite, Le Vieux Bon Temps, Imaige de Nostre Dame, A La Becasse, Le Metropole and Fleur en Papier D'Or. All of these bars retain some superb decor and original charm, but most of them have reasonable, if totally uninspiring beer lists.
Have a good trip Paul !!
Cheers !! Mark.
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