Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Down With an Update?

One of these days maybe I'll post a full list of updates to Around Brussels in 80 Beers. Closings, movings, openings, dramatic changes in opening hours. Ideally it would only make sense to someone who already owns a copy of Around Brussels and be totally useless to everyone else.

One of these days. Today is not that day.

Instead I've compiled a handful of, um, bits. Tim Webb would let you believe that he has a vast, secret network of informers to help him compile the Good Beer Guide Belgium--and it's not far from the truth. Me? I have, like, five people.* And I don't keep secrets. The most prolific informer has been Simon Croome.

Simon lives in the UK but makes sporadic visits to Brussels. He's been working his way through the "80 Beers" with the sort of madness that can only approach the madness it took to research and write the damn thing in the first place.

OK, hang on. Check this out. Importer Vanburg & DeWulf throws me into some esteemed company, including Tim, M.J., Stephen Beaumont and Chuck Cook--and that Waerebeek cookbook is seriously excellent, by the way. "Ooh, we just love Joe Stange’s blog, Thirsty Pilgrim, which chronicles his take on the Belgian beer scene. How he remains so 'au courant' when he lives in Costa Rica is a minor miracle." Well, it ain't a miracle obviously. I send emails. I make phone calls. Plain old journalism. And I get tips from people like Simon.

Anyways. Maybe this will be useful.

Closed: Belladone. Chapeau d'As. Ultieme Hallucinatie. Greenwich, although there is talk that it could re-open under new ownership, which is bound to be better than the previous ownership. Warm Water on June 30, unless a buyer comes along. Please buy it. And there's a nagging feeling that I'm forgetting one or two.

No longer very beery: Laristo. Imprimerie, unless it decides to start brewing beer on a semi-regular basis again. We don't even mind if they keep they late-night disco. Hotel Galia, although the website suggests maybe the café has re-opened with a few decent beers, even if the traditional lambics are not among them. Reports?

Changed opening hours: Too many to list. As I'm sure we warned you somewhere in the book, opening hours in Brussels are a moving target. They're often unreliable in the first place and subject to change in any case. But a good example would be Stella Solaris, about which I've heard a few complaints from people going there to find it closed. Now it appears to be open Thursday to Saturday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. only, with Monday to Wednesday "by request." Which I take to mean private parties, or "owner might let you in for a beer if you happen by and ask nicely." If you find it frustrating as a customer--and you should--imagine trying to pin it all down for a guidebook.

Opened: Moeder Lambic Fontainas. Brasserie de la Senne. Little Delirium. And more, but I'm going to save them for later.

That's what I've got so far. Now, here are some fun notes from Simon:

Belga: "Knowing we had a bit of time to kill we grabbed a 75cl of St Feuillien Saison and a couple of snacks to tide us over and sat down to give the papers a good going over. Really like the decor and also marvelled at the total mix of clientele--young families, hip & cool dudes, retired gents, even a couple discussing estate agents papers."

Bizon: "Wow, what a lovely feel to the place. I could definitely see us doing a session here, friendly and with great atmosphere. Good beers too, J went Cantillon while I had a Rochefort."

DNA: "Another wow moment walking in; not sure too many beer tickers would appreciate this place but it's right up our street being old metalheads 'n all. Surprisingly good beerlist for such a place with J having draft Chouffe and me the Witkap Stimulo."

Fous de Terroir: "What a good little place it is. The quality of both food and drink is amazing with several good 75cls available. Cuvee des Trolls & Biologique both went down very well with plates of pasta and duck salad."

Gougoutte à Pépé: Very friendly and after a while several of the guys who had been in Murmure started arriving and were interested in knowing why we were going around the local bars--so we had to show them the book which they enjoyed a lot, especially the part about sitting in the window seats to see the trams (obviously where I'd gone to sit straight away). Tried the Gougoutte shots as well which made a change from all this beer.

Murmure: "Here and Gougoutte show their shared ownership pretty heavily as both have funky drawings on the walls, only Murmure has the metalwork also. We got a bit excited when we saw the seasonal beer listed as 'Cams back' but unfortunately it turned out to be a long lost regular not some delicious De Cam lambic, just had to settle our sorrows with some Zinnebir and Lamoral triple."

Pantin: "J made friends with the cat and I discovered that the drink we call De Ranke XX was known locally as just Bitter (well it probably is the hoppiest thing they see) causing much confusion when ordering."

PM1: "Marvelled at the combined beer/whisky/cigar range."

Terra Incognita: "Very pleased to have made its acquaintance. The beer list wasn't huge but with regulars like Zinnebeer, Bink Blond & Moinette we're not complaining; I did find a new beer for me - Montagnarde from Abbaye des Rocs which was a pleasant surprise. Good plate of cheese & salami too."

*Maybe you have some tips as well? Send them to me. I'll buy you a beer if we ever meet, and maybe send you a free book if there's ever a second edition.


  1. Greetings!

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    Business Coordinator
    American Homebrewers Association
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    Steve@BrewersAssociation.org www.HomebrewersAssociation.org

  2. Steve, I'm an AHA member myself and will give that some serious thought.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Well, maybe the app could be the writing, but open to confirmed tips after you receive them? You could even have "original" 80 Beers, and then the updates after the fact in case something opens or is even relocated or get a new brew, etc. Think of more an extended discussion thread line under each major heading controlled by you rather than a discussion board open to anyone. It's a fairly simple script to write and upkeep. BTW, hubby of mine does this for a living, so if you want some advice on how to do it, drop me a line.


  5. Brasserie de la Senne open to the public or just open for brewing? I have been busting to go there but information online is as rare as hen's teeth!