“There are great brands and great beers”- Caesar
I will allow that to be the take away from the beer tour I did in Brussels (Photos here). The beer tour we did in Brussels through http://www.brusselsbeertours.com started out at 2 PM in the afternoon in front of the tourist office at the Grand Place. Kailey and I showed up and double checked to make sure we were in the right place, I wasn’t about to miss this tour for anything. Sure enough in a few moments we were joined by our guide and the other 5 Americans desperate for a beer education.
Caesar introduced himself and then polled the group on our love of beer. He asked if there were any beer geeks, nope, any brewers…I raised my hand. He asked how I was a brewer but not a geek, I explained that with only a few batches brewed I didn’t yet consider myself good enough to call myself a geek yet. With that we discussed craft brews and microbrews vs brands, he pointed out the headquarters for IGN a massive multinational that owns more beers brands than anyone has a right to. Their headquarters in One Grand Place Brussels, which if you look at the photos is a pretty awesome place to call the office.
From the Grand Place we made a straight b-line to “The Good Ole Times” bar, which has been around for a few hundred years. There we had a true Trappist ale, just fyi the bright red elephant that we get in the states, Delirium, will condemn you to beer hell for drinking it. We learned a bit about true Trappist ales and what is required to be a true Trappist ale (whole foods you can expect an inspection of your beer section upon my return). This was also the point at which Caesar was introduced to Kailey who would be the antagonist for this short play. Caesar did his best to get her a beer that she might enjoy and a Framboise was soon sitting on our table for her “enjoyment”, enjoyed it was not and undeterred Caesar said this was good news since that drink was a crime against beer and it was good she did not like it. My heart soared at the news that my wife might walk away from this experience appreciating the frosty brew.
We then left and continued on our walk over to the Cantillon Brewery which is the last functioning Brussels brewery. The brewery closed at the turn of the century and was then opened again as a museum that actually bottles and produces classic Brussels Lambic (No not that bubbly stuff you get at whole foods). This is flat, interesting, complex and delicious. We toured the brewery and got to know the process and the craft that goes into the classic Lambic. At the end of the tour we tasted a few versions of the Lambics and then Caesar pointed out that they had the Grand Cru Lambic which takes three years to age and isn’t always made, naturally I bought a bottle and added a bottle of elderflower lambic for good measure. I will need Mark and Basti to help me with these for sure.
After we had a better understanding of the process it was time for some serious tasting. We headed to the Moder Lambic bar. This is a great bar that has excellent examples of Belgian beer with some other guest beers from around Europe. There are no brands on the menu, only types of beer that you buy based on your mood. We got to hang out there drinking and talking with the group, after a few beers the tour had to end and sadly we all had to go our separate ways. Kailey and I were sorely tempted to stay and grab a few more drinks with a couple from Colorado, but sadly we had to make it to a grocery store to pick up a treat for a friend to mail the next day.
The tour was awesome and will definitely be a highlight of the trip, and will sadly for Kailey, fuel my brewing hobby for quite some time to come. One note about taking beer tours with Kailey is that you drink double since she never finishes more than a sip….I was in quite good spirits upon completion of the tour. So now we enjoy Paris and the sights, until we get to Germany where perhaps I can take in a bit of Oktoberfest and then luckily Rae shows up so I can taste my way through Italian wines.