Monday, June 8, 2009

'You're Not the Usual American Sycophant.'

That's what Tim Webb told me once. It was his own sort of compliment, I think. I assured him I was a completely new and different kind of American sycophant.

Anyway: It's impossible for me to write an honest, objective review of the new Good Beer Guide Belgium. So I won't try. Instead I'll sum up my bias: Well before I met Tim and co-wrote a book for his small publishing outfit, the GBG's fifth edition was the best guidebook we'd ever owned. And we've owned a lot of them.

Besides being an instant course on serious Belgian beer—and a platform for Tim's merciless wit—the Guide allows you to suck more of the good life out of this country than any other book on the market. Anyway, that's what it did for my wife and I. We reflexively recommend it to visitors and fellow expats. Even if the only thing they know about beer is that they like it. Especially then.

(Aside #1: Ever notice that places with good beer also tend to have pretty good food? Generally speaking. Trust a beer guide to send you to a decent restaurant, that's all I'm saying.)

The Babblebelt has a review of the Guide here. Meanwhile CAMRA is having a little contest to promote it, with a weekend in Brussels as the carrot.

(Aside #2: A simple recipe for an excellent day is a set of wheels, a navigation system, and a decent guidebook.)

A solicited endorsement from the Missus: "I have seen so much more of Belgium, from the countryside to small towns to its larger cities' side streets, than I would have seen without the Good Beer Guide. My husband and I had a lot of fun adventures with the GPS taking us down cow paths to find tiny little bars that serve some very special beers. I gained a whole new appreciation for what 'special beer' means."

I knew she would work in the cow paths, somehow. Our GPS has a knack for finding all of them.


  1. I need to get another copy ordered... I left my original copy on bench at Mort Subite !

  2. Just received my copy of 'Around Brussels'! And already read about half of it, great stuff! PS : is it you in the picture on page 101? Hahaha I love it.

  3. Yeah Toine, eating soup at Achel. The Missus took the photo. I didn't know the photo was there until I saw the final proofs.

  4. Got my Good Beer Guide last week and Around Brussels this week. I am awash in beer literature, soon to be awash in beer.

  5. So far I'm trying Belgium beers without a guide. However a good one might come in handy soon.

  6. Not to sound like the usual American sycophant, but I agree with your non objective review of the GBG. It is invaluable while in Belgium and otherwise. I encourage people to buy it from the source. Also, any book that lists Around Brussels in 80 Beers my beer tour company must be good! I can completely relate to the cow paths and Aside #2 above. I'm glad I'm not alone. Happy beer travels, Pilgrim.