Brugge is lovely – absolutely lovely. If you squint your eyes and ignore the American retail stores and god forbid, Pizza Hut in the centre of town, you’re taken back centuries to a much simpler time. Although it’s flocked with tourists, it has charm and a quiet solitude that would lure one to retire there.
Brugge is the only place I went for a run, along the scenic canal. In the other cities we visited, narrow cobblestone sidewalks and bicycles made it virtually impossible to run without landing on my face. The paved path by the canal was perfect.
We stayed two nights in Brugge to explore the city and hit up some of the great bars. Every second shop sells chocolate, beer or lace – there’s even a lace museum (and no, we didn’t go there).
Rose Red is a quaint café/bar with a tap list that sports Cantillon, has tasting flights and a bottle list that requires them to make a trip to the cellar. Ahhh my favourite type of list. They serve all of the Trappist beers and it’s a place you could sit in for a few hours (which we may have done) and have a happy palate. We were lucky enough to have Mathias serve us and he invited us to visit the cellar. A real cellar, not the fridges that most of us “cellar” our beers in. I tried to curl up under some old bottles of 3 Fonteinen Geuze but alas, eventually someone noticed I was missing – or maybe they heard the cork pop as I pried a bottle open with my teeth (all lady, all the time). I settled for drinking a bottle of the 2012 instead.
Another spot to visit is Beetrje Café (closed Tues/Wed). We stopped in for a night cap after Rose Red and managed to snag the last table in this small bar. They have five beers on tap and over 300 Belgian beers. We ordered their Special Brew made for them by Brouwerij de Dolle Brouwers and finished with the Oerbier Special Reserva (2012).
So far in our travels, we’d sampled many beers but paced ourselves well. Our first night in Brugge may have seen a few extra beers consumed as one of us couldn’t remember the billion rabbits in the field that night (rabbits? What rabbits?), one fell asleep on the bed fully clothed and the third was unscathed (I think).
This may be the coolest place I’ve ever had a drink. It’s set in a 13th Century cellar with exposed brick arches. They have ten taps, offer tasting flights and have over 100 beers from Belgium and around Europe. The bartender, who seems to have a penchant for the 80’s rock videos they were playing all night – on repeat, brought us a sample of the freshly tapped Brew Dog Punk IPA and the three of us were all shocked at how much better it is fresh. Like 100x better – I liked it before in Canada but I loved it fresh. I know, we shouldn’t be surprised that the bottled version we get that takes a long, arduous journey from being bottled in Scotland, swimming across the pond to a North American port, resting in a BC warehouse while the government takes their sweet time to release it, off it hops on a truck to your local private liquor store and then it finally finds its way to your fridge. Suffice to say that Punk IPA is an amazing IPA and months of travel don’t do it justice.
I had a flight here as well as a bottle of Hanssens Oude Geuze. My god am I ever getting my sour love on in Belgium. Simon is as much of a sour aficionado as I am but Kelly is less inclined to drink them every night – needless to say Simon and I were the ones to suggest sharing bottles. I could drink them every day and never tire of them. Oh how I miss you, Belgium.
The place is spacious and after the bus tour left (damn tourists), one of the locals came by and chatted with us. The bartender and our new beer geek friend bought a couple of bottles of Hemel & Aarde Octomore to share with us – fantastic beer and great conversation ended the night.
We stopped in many of the beer shops and did some shopping at Bier Tempel, Bacchus Cornelius,The Bottle Shop and 2be. Westvleteren 8 and 12 were in many shops at €8 and €10/€12.
Lastly, food. We were on a quest for the best frites in Brugge. It was a challenge posed (well, by us) and we chose to accept it. We tried, and tried, but didn’t find any REALLY good frites in Brugge. One of you has to continue on this quest. I pass on the torch – go forth and eat frites.