Estaminets & Beers, Brussels
Caro and Dannie brought us to this place which is a bit out of the old town of Brussels and therefore a favourite of the locals rather than the tourists. It has been attracting the arty communities for a long time now. I was disappointed that one of my favourite surrealists, Rene Magritte, didn't show up while we were there ;)
The atmosphere in here is very friendly and relaxed and the walls are decorated with all kinds of old signs and other dusty stuff. The beer selection is good and I really liked the Kriek Boon I drank here. The only thing I did not like was the scary staircase to the toilets. I wouldn't want to walk down that one when totally drunk.
Our group walked by Halloween several times before we finally made the decision to go inside. From the size of the front windows, it was very misleading in regards to the large size of the interior. Every inch of this place is themed in accordance to the scary characters of Halloween. Our server was even a sullen, hooded monk who recommended my favorite beer of the night, the appropriately named "Lucifer Gold". At 8% alcohol, 2 of these were enough for my night! I still have the bottle of this beer as a souvenir. I honestly don't know anything about the food, but have heard the restaurant is quite good too.
Dress Code: Casual is perfectly fine.
Delirium Cafe holds the world record for most beers in one place (and a very small place at that). I had read opinions on this place in blogs and the like, and knew this would be one of the first stops on the tour. First of all, Delirium Tremens beer has been voted best beer in the world several times, and it is delicious on tap! This place has over 2000 beers (mostly in bottle), and is THE place to go to try many different types. We went here first in the afternoon and made it back that night for more beer and live music.
Dress Code: casual
When I was on a VT meeting with Gillian, Kap2, Acemj and Melissa-bel, the left overs of the evening went to The Cirio, a beautiful Art Nouveau pub next to the Bourse.
I have walked by many times and thought it to be a dull place but once you entered, you came into another century. This place breaths good old times and nostalgy!
I liked it much more then the Fallstaf where I once went in and was ignored by the waiters and waitresses who were too busy fixing their hair and bragging about their last weekend's adventures. I think 45 minutes is a reasonable time to wait and wave before leaving.
How different it was here in the Cirio!
Seems they knew Gillian here pretty well and she even had her favorite waiter to serve us.
Could that have helped to add to the friendly and correct service? Who knows!
I went around with my camera picture-taking-hungry! Incredible!
I read their speciality is a drink half wine/half champaign. Will have to test it next time!
I don't know where the time went and the other people in the pub... but soon we found ourselves pretty alone and realised they were waiting for us to close.
oh well... back to the next pub near place Sint Goriks plaats.
No closing day
Dress Code: casual
Not to miss is the historical pub Fleur en papier dore / Het Goudblommeke van papier at the Cellebroersstraat 55.
It was once the artistic café and meeting place of Brussels’s surrealists. Magritte, Plisnier, they all frequented the pub. For quite some time it also was the base of the Cobra mouvement with well known names as Pierre Alechinsky, Serge Vandercam en Hugo Claus.
Walls are covered with memorabilia of those times. It is just nice to sit there and read the room.
Don’t expect fresh air in here. It is very smoky and the yellowish colours of the walls are witnesses of a history of rooms filled with cigarette smoke for almost a century.
This was one of the very few and first pubs I have been in Brussels where the people were really nice!
What a different atmosphere with many other ones.
Note as on July 2006: the pub is going to close, the owners are bankrupt so if you are interested ? it is for sale!
Dress Code: There is no dress code, you come as you are.
Imagine, you are in the capital of Beerland... you have gawked at the Grand'Place and keeping your mouth open marvelling at the scene made your throat dry. In search of a place to drink, you managed to avoid the lure of the waiters of rue des Bouchers, in a tiny street, you notice what looks like a pink elephant. Yes, a pink elephant. You have reached the Delirium Cafe. Go down the stairs and find yourself in an 18th century cave. Look around, all you see are vintage beer adds... In fact, you will be drinking sitting around a beer barrell. You are asking for the menu, that's when the waiters come to you with... yes... several menus and it's as big as a phone book! In fact, there are at least 2000 of them but the number can jump to more than 3000 from home and abroad, it depends. I know... things can get a little dizzy even before your lips have even touched the brew. If you are not sure what you'd like, ask the staff. Would like a blonde? A blanche? A brown? Ambered? Sweer? Sour? Something typical of Brussels and the area? A trappist maybe? All you need is ask.
But beer is not the only thing... Jenever, Belgium's other alcohol is also available and they have a wide collection of it.
The prices are also quite reasonnable if you consider the location and when you go out, don't forget to say Hi to Manneken Pis's little sister : Jeanneke.
Last thing : you can check out the "menu" online. It's worth being prepared
When you want to try some other beers you have to go to the Delirium Café. They have over 2000 beers in stock. You will get a beermenu in the size of a phonebook. It is almost impossible to choose only one. But after a few you will see al pink elephants on the ceiling...
Monday - Saturday 10:00 am - 04:00 am
Sunday 10:00 am - 01:00 am
At the end of "rue du Marche aux Herbes", behind the church of St Nicolas, you would find two dead-end streets : "L'impasse des Cadeaux" and "l'impasse St Nicolas".
In each of them you could find an authentic estaminets, a real time travel to the past... They are not touristic at all as la Becasse could be. You'd better speak French or Dutch, not too sure the bar tender would understand anything else...
Brussels has many bars. I am only interested in places that offer a good choice of beers. Poechenellekelder has that, and even a nice choice of geuzes and krieken, the beers of spontaneous fermentation of the Brussels region region. I had a Cantillon Geuze and a Girardin Geuze, in my opinion the two best geuzes available. Both were elegantly served lying almost horizontally in a basket, the way they should be. Another good point is that, even though people were smoking, it hardly bothered me. Nice place. Good music too, they were playing sixties music, including my favourites the Beach Boys.
This is an authentic old estaminet that is now welcoming many tourists (even if it is well hidden and not so easy to find)
The main interest of the place is that you can taste a sweetened lambic beer, a typical Brussels product, still brewed in the same traditional manner as two century ago. It is served in its authentic jar.
An other interesting product is their white beer based on lambic and brewed as it used to be in the Pajottenland with wheat added to Lambic.
Dress Code: Casual
This pub is situated near the Grand Place. Very cosy. And if you like French Chansons, this you really can't miss. The house has 2 flours, with several small rooms with lots of couches. The walls are covered with pictures, old newspapers and disques, all refering to the time the French Chansons were liked a lot. On each flour you have a jukebox, where you can choose between .... yes, you have guessed it right ... french chansons like f.e. Jacques Brell. The speciality of the house are fruitwines. Do try one!! You're gonna like it!!
Real party atmosphere !! After a few drinks - may be, a "chevalier", 2.5 pints of beer served in a special glass resembling the Kwak-glasses - you'll be singing and dancing on the tables with everybody ! Fun guaranteed !
Great pub with so many beers on the menu you will be spoilt for choice!! I had some peach and blackcurrant beers as well as trying some that were 12% and some that were three years old. Thanks to Daniel for showing it to me!
Pubs around the Grand Place...
There are a LOT of pubs all around the Grand Place, both in the courtyard and outside of it. Each one has it's own personality, but they are all warm and friendly. Some will have fireplaces going if it is cold outside. Many have been in business for CENTURIES, which to us Americans is a long time. There are literally thousands of Belgian beers, of many different styles. Ask the bartender/server for a recommendation if you aren't sure where to start. (This is NOT the place to stick with an American beer! Experiment a little!) For those who don't like the flavor of traditional beers, try the Belgian Lambics (fruit beers). My personal favorite is a Lindeman's Kriek (cherry) flavor Lambic.
Dress Code: Casual, mostly. (There are fancy nightclubs here, but I am just speaking of pubs/bars.)
PUBS AND DISCO ...
I suggest you to go to LE SUD, a moroccan disco but very good people ... all kinds of music but especially rai music and also hits (100 BEF and you're member for one year, taste the Vodka Citron !).
Located rue de l'Ecuyer (centre).
Brussels has so many pubs ... go to a typical pub where belgian beers are served (they are served everywhere but pubs still have souls) : LA FLEUR A PAPIER DORE (rue des Alexiens), LA MORT SUBITE (rue Montagne aux Herbes Potagères), CAFE OF HOTEL METROPOLE (De Brouchère), OREILLYS (IRISH PUB), ROY D'ESPAGNE & CHALOUPE D'OR (Grand'Place), LA BECASSE (rue de Tabora). Also near ST GERY HALLES : MAPPA MUNDO, ZEBRA, KLADARATSCH ...
Belgium is the country with the best beers of the world. Stella Artois, Leffe, Jupiler, Palm, Hoegaarden, Grimbergen, Maredsous, Chimay, Orval, Floreffe ... Abbey beers are famous also with their cheese.
There are more than 400 beers.
Every beer seems to have its own glass.
Dress Code: As you want : Brussels is a free city !