Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Like Brussels Itself, Always a Work In Progress.

As Tim Webb compiles the Good Beer Guide Belgium, he receives a lot of tips from a loose network friends and allies who live in the country or visit there often. They do it only to help him make a better guide, and they deserve a lot of thanks not just from Tim but from all of us who rely on the book.

Our network for Around Brussels in 80 Beers is not so extensive... The first edition (and hopefully there will be a second, someday) is based mainly on a lot of research and legwork on the part of Yvan and myself. However there are a few people who have begun sending advice, updates and feedback from time to time. A serious omission from the book is a little paragraph, somewhere, explaining that we really, really like that sort of person. One of them is Mr. Simon Croome, who takes the Eurostar down from England now and then and makes excellent use of our little guide. May he be a good example to the rest of you.

Feel free to send any personal experiences, reviews, updates, suggestions or profanity to joe dot thirstypilgrim at gmail dot com. Photos are also welcome, and with permission I might post one or two to the blog. Also I will get back to you personally with thanks, and somewhere from within a very-soon-to-be-bustling warehouse brewery in Molenbeek, Yvan thanks you too.

Here is some of what Simon says, which is especially interesting to me because he and Jackie left the well-worn city-center pathways. Also I have to mention that, to their great credit, they were oblivious to the fact that the Brussels Beer Weekend was happening before they visited. Instead they came mainly for the festival at Moeder Lambic. Let's join him on their pub crawl, shall we?

Vieux Spitigen Duivel, in the southern reaches of Uccle: "It got mixed reviews from some of the other people we mentioned it to -- they felt it had gone down hill with the change of owners. Decent enough beer selection (I had an Omer for example) and we could quite happily have stayed for another beer if it wasn't already so late..."

Matin, up the hill from Chez Moeder Lambic in Saint-Gilles: "What a difference. I bet a lot of typical beer geeks would hate this place but for us it was a nice change. Great decor and loud latino music but still with Zinnebeer and Taras Boulba to drink. And amongst all the hubbub one old, flat-capped Belgian sitting at the bar oblivious to the noise..."

Moeder Lambic St-Gilles: "Finally on to the main event of the night - our first visit to the old Moeder Lambic. Quite a contrast from Fontainas but still the same great atmosphere and beers. We tried several of the festival taps -- the 2010 Fou F'oune was outstanding, really fresh and full of fruit..."

Brasseurs de la Grand Place: "Missed breakfast at the hotel so we popped in ... for brunch. Good value food surprisingly, shame the same can't be said of the beer -- fairly pedestrian but expensive."

Delices et Caprices: "a marked improvement. Pierre is an excellent host and the ability to try any of the beers straight off the shelf is dangerous. Pierre got me to try a Jessenhofke Tripel to see if I could guess the mystery ingredient, I failed as it's a quite subtle addition but still found it an excellent beer."

Schaerbeek Beer Museum: "Odd kind of place and not really my sort of museum, too much stuff with little explanation given; however it was free entry and the 75s of their 'house' beer were only 4.20 euros so we sampled one in the cafe and picked one up for the tickers back home."

Moeder Lambic Fontainas: "We finished off the festival taps that we hadn't got yesterday and then Jean mentioned his special bottle selection. I take it you know the story behind Cantillon Pinot D'Aunis, I can confirm it's an exceptional beer almost like a rose version of St Lamvinus. Not allowed to take this beer away you had to drink it in one of the four establishments involved. We also had the Wadesda 1 from Senne, and there was a Rulles 10th Anniversary beer, both of which we picked up a bottle of."

Restobieres: "Luckily it was still open and we were allowed to order. Very good food, even something as simple as sausage and stoemp had great depth, I'm glad we got to visit after passing its door so many times. We lingered for a while over a bottle of Bon Voeux before going down the hill to..."

Brocante: "which we were very surprised to find closing up at only five in the afternoon. Was that Brussels' way of saying we'd had too much already? Oh well, back to Midi and the train home."

Many thanks to Simon and Jackie and anyone else who has sent similar tips or will do so in the future.


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