Spontaneously fermenting in Buggenhout and Mechelen
Posted by Jeremy Gray on 05/31/2004 01:24:00 PM
This weekend we had a quick overnighter to Belgium and as usual we managed to pack quite a lot in.
En route to Mechelen, we of course planned a quick Bob stop, and we duly got our tick at Den Bruinvis in Hombeek, just outside Mechelen. Decent little cafe with a sunny terrace outside, this one was a good, quick coffee stop en route to our hotel.
We stayed at the excellent Hotel Carolous, part of the superb Het Anker complex right in the centre of Mechelen. This one was recommended by John W, and was another very good tip - I would definitely return to stay there again.
We'd time for a quick Carolus Tripel in the lovely brewery tap before heading off to the station to get the train down to Buggenhout, where we were met by one of the Bierpallieters' taxis which ferries you for free up and down to the fest - a very nice touch which will ensure my return next year.
And the fest? - well, what a lovely festival. Surprisingly quiet - attendance presumably affected by the Leuven festival? - but of course this made for a great few hours sitting chatting with many friends. Dan and Joelle, Joris, Tim W, Casimir Elsen, Podge and Siobhan, Filip and Catrien, Danny Cyberannis and his wife, and me and T were all there. A pretty good turn out of babblers, authors and other VIPs.
Totally laid back atmosphere and it was a nice change to be at a fest which wasn't manically busy. Another nice touch was the waiter service - you just stick your paw up and they come over, take your order and serve you at your table. Given the small attendance, the service was quick every time.
Beers? - well, what a superb list. Dozens of draught lambics and kriekenlambics were available - I had draught Cantillon and Girardin lambics and draught De Keersmaeker Kriekenlambic. Then an amazing range of gueuzes, krieks, frambozens, etc - of which I had several big bottles shared with Dan and Joelle. These included Cantillon Loerik 1998 (wow!), Lou Pepe Framboise and Belle Vue Selection Lambic. However, it wasn't all lambic, and they served up local heroes like Tripel Karmeliet and several from De Landtsheer, including Malheur Brut Reserve and Dark Brut. There were also two beers brewed by the Bierpallieters specially for the festival.
After drinking as much lambic as I could realistically take in one sitting, Dan, Joelle, Theresa and I got ferried back to Buggenhout in time for the train back to Mechelen. A quick phone call ahead ensured a taxi was waiting to whisk us back to Het Anker where we sampled the superb cuisine in the brewery tap. Again, I will definitely be back as it really was as good as I had heard it would be (thanks John W for the chicken with bacon bits in the sauce recommendation, a truly outstanding dish).
Couple of beers here and it was then time to hit the new Het Anker bar, Het Ankertje aan de Dijle, right on the Vismarkt, which has changed beyond belief since our last visit to the town. Podge was waiting for us there and we soon kicked off a great little session which lasted way into the night. This new Het Anker place is great - as long as you like their beers (the only ones on sale there) - the place is all beams and breweriana and really is a lovely place to spend some time. A Cuvee van de Keizer was soon followed by my draught free Bob beer, a draught Tripel.
And from there to Den Stillen Genieter was only about 50 yards, so we rolled in there around midnight where we shared a superb aged Fantome Ne Dorstige Kajotter that I'd had on my previous visit, followed by a St Feullien Christmas 75cl which was at least 6 years old and which had aged wonderfully.
I still find this a very odd bar, but at least they had the two beers we ordered, though I think Podge had the right idea as he ordered two draught Chouffes instead of bothering with the list!
Anyway, after that I was glad to crash out for a few hours, before we said our goodbyes to Dan and Joelle in the hotel the next morning. As usual, it had been great to hook up with them again.
From there, we had a mad trek taking the scenic route back to Calais via Mariekerke - what is going on with the museum in the cafe? - all longboats, small boats and other sailing stuff - the superb Gloriette in Drongen, chocolate box country pub par excellence, then running out of time badly, we just made it to Den Hovenier in Assebroek in time for a quick soup for lunch then a dash for Calais in time for the 3pm tunnel shuttle.
We were back home before 4pm after another superb trip!
Select the BACK button on your brouser to see the previous list