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Brussels Beer Tour (Self Guided), Brussels

Belgians are not very prone to boasting, except with things such as chocolate, fries and, evidently, beer. They treat beer the way the French treat wine: for the makers, it's a prized art; for the drinkers, it is something to be savored and discussed. It is said that, on average, Belgians drink 150 liters of beer per year, per person, and one would often see them sipping it from early in the morning as if it's coffee or tea. This self-guided tour will show you some of Brussels' best bars and taverns to buy and drink the very creative, beautifully rich and wide-ranged Belgian brews.
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Brussels Beer Tour Map

Guide Name: Brussels Beer Tour
Guide Location: Belgium » Brussels (See other walking tours in Brussels)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: audrey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Moeder Lambic Fontainas
  • Poechenellekelder
  • A la Becasse
  • L'Imaige Nostre-Dame
  • Au Bon Vieux Temps
  • Delirium Cafe
  • A la Mort Subite
  • Bier Circus
1
Moeder Lambic Fontainas

1) Moeder Lambic Fontainas

With a central location in Brussels, this is a typical craft beer Mecca that makes you fall in love with the local artisan ales. Despite being called 'Moeder Lambic', which is a Dutch name, the staff mostly speak French and some English. And they have beer – lots of it, with every local Brussels brewer represented.

You'll be able to spot about 50 taps and half a dozen hand pumps, plus a superb bottled range including a few foreign brands and a Cantillion not found anywhere else. At €20 to €25 a liter on average, the droughts are just a tiny bit expensive but worth it. You can try different Lambic (spontaneously fermented) styles like the sweetened Faro, the bitter Gueuze, as well as the extremely popular Fruit Lambics and plain Lambic (unblended). While the food offerings are limited, what they do have is tasteful: charcuterie, quiche, dried sausage, sandwiches, etc.

The look of the pub itself is quite attractive, with exposed brickwork, a long-serving bar, great decor and furnishings and plenty of seating options spread throughout - both inside and outside on the terrace looking out over the tranquil Place Fontainas (a couple of minutes from the Manneken Pis statue).

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 11am–1am; Fri, Sat: 11am–2am; Sun: 11am–midnight
2
Poechenellekelder

2) Poechenellekelder

Located right across the street from the Mannekin Pis, you'd expect to find a complete tourist trap, but thankfully that's not the case. With an amazingly quirky decor and brilliant selection of authentic Belgian beers (including an extensive festive choice) at reasonable prices, this bar is actually a favorite among locals and tourists, with food and drinks coming out non stop – be warned that you may sometimes have to wait to get a seat!

The waiters speak great English and give great recommendations, while the atmosphere is second to none. Sit inside this former puppet theatre and take in all the puppets dangling from the ceiling, as well as dozens of other items of bric-a-brac (which seems to be a Belgian thing); it's like a cross between an antique shop and an emporium! Alternatively, for good people-watching, find yourself a little table at the very snug terrace outside where you can enjoy your beer with some nice finger food.

Tip:
Inside there's a lot more seating than you'd probably think, so have a bit of a wander through both floors!

Opening Hours:
Sun, Tue-Thu: 11am–1am; Fri, Sat: 11am–2am
3
A la Becasse

3) A la Becasse

Tucked at the rear of a small alleyway just two blocks away from the Grand Place, this pub – touted to be one of the oldest in the city – is a proper little hidden gem. Once inside, you'll find a cozy and original 19th-century beer room with a quiet understated charm and mostly bench-style seating, where everyone sits together – though, weather permitting, you may also enjoy a small external seating area. The decoration features lots of dark wood paneling, iron chandeliers, framed photo portraits of former Belgian kings and queens and, of course, lots of charming old images of the woodcock (bécasse) which gives the pub its name.

The choice of in-house beers is pretty good – they serve the Lambic range and you can try a sampler platter of four (in either smaller or bigger sizes) or simply have one poured in a cute ceramic pitcher. Food mostly consists of traditional snacks to compliment the beers you drink, and prices are pretty good for what is a touristified area.

If you are looking for an authentic beer hall with loads of character, then head here!

Opening Hours:
Sun-Thu: 11am–midnight; Fri, Sat: 11am–1am
4
L'Imaige Nostre-Dame

4) L'Imaige Nostre-Dame

Tucked away at the end of a long, narrow alleyway just a few steps from the wonderful St-Nicolas Church and not far from La Bourse, this popular beer bar doesn't have any windows or doors inviting you, but the wide variety of high-quality domestic beer together with medieval charm and speedy service makes it well worth visiting. It's a no-nonsense kind of place that's there for gathering rather than impressing, yet the decor is very rustic-feeling and eclectic; what it lacks in elegance it makes up in character, and one could spend quite some time simply looking around. Both inside and outside, the atmosphere is easy-going and special indeed – you can often (from Thursday to Sunday) hear live music, and it doesn't take long for the courtyard to get filled with a friendly, colorful crowd of Brussels locals.

Definitely worth a look if you want something off the beaten path, with some great, well-served Belgian beers on tap (including "La Malheur"). The only downside: it's cash-only, but that seems to be the usual practice in Brussels.
5
Au Bon Vieux Temps

5) Au Bon Vieux Temps

Serving customers since 1695, Au Bon Vieux Temps (“The Good Old Times”), located just minutes from the Grand Place, is among the four legendary alleyway taverns in Brussels (along with À la Bécasse, L’Imaige Nostre-Dame, and Toone). Duck beneath the statue of the bishop and enter a bygone age: dark wood tables and chairs, a beautiful fireplace, stained glass windows, as well as great decor and furnishings – including a great-looking little serving bar, and beer-advertising enamels adorning the walls.

Despite the relatively cramped interior, there are lots of seating options throughout, and one can enjoy a nice selection of all the classic premium beers – including the rare Westvleteren (10.2% ABV, yellow cap), brewed by Trappist monks and frequently cited as the best that Belgium has to offer. For such a distinctive location, prices are quite reasonable (at €15/bottle, the Westvleteren here is actually lower than most places), so definitely check this place out if you are into historic bars and great beer, while keeping your service expectations on par with other Belgian establishments.

Tip:
No cards accepted, so make sure to have plenty of bills on hand. Secondly, if you want to use the toilet, note that the bartender needs to unlock the door (by pressing a button under the counter). Thirdly, as a beer alternative, consider ordering the Picon Vin Blanc, a unique local cocktail normally drunk as an aperitief.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am–midnight
6
Delirium Cafe

6) Delirium Cafe

How can you go to Brussels without a visit to the Delirium? Well-known internationally for its record-breaking range of beers, with 2004 commercially available in 2004, this place still holds its position in the Guinness Book and has also opened other franchises in Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Lisbon, Strasbourg, Kuala Lumpur, et al. It is found within the maze of small streets around the Grand Place, across the street from the famous Jeanneke Pis statue, and derives its name from the beer Delirium Tremens, whose pink elephant symbol also decorates the entrance (legend says that you will surely meet the elephant in person if you try all beer sorts at one visit!).

On the whole, Delirium Village practically takes up the whole street, each one of the three bars having a slightly different vibe, but all considered to be Delirium: the Tap House Bar at street level, the Hop Bar upstairs (only open from 6pm, Thursday to Sunday), and an amazing choice of over 3,000 bottled beers in the bar downstairs (which also has a few on tap), including award-winning selections that may be hard to find elsewhere: from the Trappists to the famous Belgian Abbay, to strong brown beers, to lighter fruity ones. Prices are great so you won't be breaking the bank for these brews. Add to that a great decor, plus thousands of souvenirs on beer and breweries, and get ready to be blown away!

Tip:
Despite the large layout, you may have to get a little lucky with seating – don't worry, as seats usually free up fast if you hang out.
Note that they charge 25% extra on Thursdays, due to the weekly gigs / jamming sessions in the basement.

Operation Hours:
Mon-Thu: 10am–4am; Fri, Sat: 10am–6am; Sun: 10am–3am
7
A la Mort Subite

7) A la Mort Subite

The unusual name of this most authentic beer bar traces its origin to the early 1920s, when regular customers, who worked at the nearby National Bank, used to kill time playing dice games when business was slow. The loser was called "le mort", and when one of the players was urgently needed in the office, the game was ended by playing sudden death, both with the game and their drinks. At that time, the bar was still called 'La Cour Royale', but the owner decided to rename it to 'À la mort subite' and did the same for the gueuze beer he served.

This old-world tavern looks right out of a movie: tall ceilings, mirrored walls, pillars with gold relief, great decor and furnishings – including a cool long serving bar and creaky wooden booths. The servers "look the role" in their crisp white and black suits and they play the role, too – just make sure to grab their attention and to ask for some recommendations. There are no big distractions, such as wi-fi or TVs showing football matches or live music, so the focus can be on the beer and the company.

While the choice of food may leave something to be desired, the beer selection is satisfactory. You have a pretty wide choice starting with their own Gueuze (a must-try), Frambozen (raspberry brown ale), Péche (a special apricot flavored beer), Faro (lower-alcohol, sweetened with brown sugar candy), Kriek (cherry-flavored and tough on the palate, as it should be), plus the usual Belgian standbys (Orval, Duvel, Chimay, Westmalle) and a few that are slightly harder to find in other bars (try the dark Grimbergen with a plate of cubed gouda – it's one of life's simple pleasures). They also serve wines and some foreign beers and spirits, as well as non-alcoholic drinks.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 11am–1am; Sun: 12pm–midnight
8
Bier Circus

8) Bier Circus

Belgian beers are not just great to drink, but go extremely well with food, especially when that food is prepared with beer! Living proof of this is the Bier Circus, where you get served a fine assortment of traditional Belgian dishes such as meatballs, 'vol-au-vent' (creamy chicken in pastry), or the 'veal blanquette' alongside the spaghetti bolognaise cooked with Chimay Trappist and the Beer 'n Beef Stew with Westmalle Trappist. Fortunately, too, these all come in big portion sizes and are reasonably priced.

The service is friendly and knowledgeable and the beers are served properly, each in their own special glass – not a small commitment, as their selection ranges from vintage ones to all of the Belgian Trappists to other, rather rare gems for the connoiseurs. Organized by region, the massive beer book has excellent descriptions of the flavors so that you'll know what to ask for (but don't hesitate to ask the well-informed bartenders about the more obscure artisanal varieties).

If you like to get away from the busy Grand Place and are curious about the Belgian cuisine, head on over to this friendly, informal establishment. The beer-cap-decorated interior is certainly not as vintage as other restaurants in the city center but offers a welcome change after a day of beer shopping. Also note that the bar and dining rooms are separated – good for those who prefer as such.

Tip:
If you fancy a creamy dessert to remember, the 'Dame Blanche' they serve here is one of the best in town.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 11:30am–2:30pm, 6pm–midnight

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