Food and Drink in Belgium

Since Carolyn did such an admirable job summing up our visual fun in Belgium, it’s my turn to sum up what we consumed whilst we were there. Belgium is known for good eats and an amazing array of beers. For a country of its size, they have hundreds of beers made there. Ignoring the swill that comes out of Inbev (yes, a Belgian company that managed to buy Anheuser-Busch), they have some very good beers and all of them have their own special glass to drink out of. I’ll just sum up a few of the more interesting ones we had (we managed to sample over 20 different beers in our weekend there, so I won’t bore you with the details).


Der Garre is a small, old bar in the center of Bruges. They have contracted out with a brewer to make their house beer. Bruges is touristy, and this place had plenty of them, but they claim the locals come just for this beer. I can understand why. It is high in alcohol (12%), but the alcohol doesn’t overwhelm it. So it has a refreshing taste as well. And it’s nice to have a little cheese with it as well. The bar was friendly and bustling both times we went.


This is Carolyn in the bar of the De Halve Maan Brewery, the last remaining brewery in Bruges. Right after WWII, there were over 30 of them. We’ve been on a few brewery tours and each one tries to make it a little interesting. As this place had been brewing beer for 150 years, the process has been modernized and requires less space. So, while they have a big building for brewing, they only really need part of it to brew the beer. As a result, they’ve kept the old bits around as a view into the past of brewing and show you around it. It was very interesting to see the way things have changed. People need not crawl around closed fermenters cleaning beer out of it while getting drunk on beer fumes. De Halve Maan make three beers, Brugse Zot blond and brown and Straffe Hendrick. We had all three at one point and they were all lovely. We liked the glasses so much, we bought two to bring home.


In Belgium, there’s a beer store called brewmania where you can buy a beer and drink it on site. The owner was a friendly, knowlegable and chatty guy who was happy to help find recommendations for us. This happens to be his house beer. The glass is an interesting combo of a typical Belgian beer glass but the stem is a handle, to keep the beer from getting warm by you touching it with your hand.


There are 7 monasteries in Belgium that still make beer. They’re trappist ales. Among them, Westvleren is the hardest to find. They only make exactly the amount they need support themselves for the year and avoid labels and other marketing. As a result, their beer is a bit rare and not cheap. It doesn’t help that they make very good beer that has won awards. Beermania had some, so I had to splurge and have a bottle. It lived up to expectations.


Now onto food. Belgium is a lovely place to eat. It’s even better if you like meat and fries. There are fries everywhere. We ate more than our share of them. The dish above is a local dish called Waterzooi which is a stew of chicken, veg and a cream-based sauce. It was delicious. I also ate way too much steak while I was here. Carolyn avoided that for more fish based dishes. We definitely ate well overall, although there was the occasional meal that wasn’t perfect. The lunch in the picture above was excellent.

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