Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Great Belgian Beer Run: Day One

When TGBBR was conceived, it found it's roots in spontaneity. The process was simple: passport, tickets, and hotel. 
 Swanky room
The Golden Tulip Hotel

We had a rough idea of the places and days on which we would go to those places. The was the depth if our planning. We failed to secure € before we left. Because of that we payed some fees that would not have had to had we planned ahead. Live and learn. We wandered around downtown Brussels for a while looking for a place that could exchange money for us. There are either few places to do this, or we are terrible at finding them. The reader should put stock in the latter. 

Our goal for day one was Brewery Cantillon, then in the evening, the Delirium Cafe. As part of our search for appropriate coinage, we began to walk some of the side streets. They proved to be lined with innumerable small seafood restaurants boasting fresh seafood, mussels especially, and their native land's trademark beers. As we were walking along I spotted a sign that I recognized. It was the baby blue background featuring their large pink elephant on it. The Delirium Cafe. 

I was relieved to find it. I was beginning to feel as if I had really slowed our trips progress by my poor planning. As we entered the lower level of the Cafe, those concerns vanished. The place is covered from top to bottom with beer collectibles of all types: signs,  bottles, glassware, etc. 

It was warm and welcoming inside and good refuge from the rain that we have learned is near constant in Brussels. We found ourselves a table and attempted to take on the menu. The beer menu was no problem as I was familiar with the large majority of them or the styles of beer. The food was another matter. 

We approached the bar to order and spoke to the young man that was tending. He was very helpful in helping us pair our cheese and bread plate with our beer selection. The cheese whose varietal now escapes me, was a wonderful semi hard cheese that had a pleasant creamy character that melded well with the nuttiness of the bread. But those two items really sprung to life with our beer pairing. We had originally planned on trying the Delirium Tremins on tap. We had tasted this beer back home a week before and we had wanted to examine the impact of transport and poor storage on the beers we get in the States. When we asked the bartender for the beer, he suggested a different one, admitting it strange that he suggested a beer other than the beer of the brewery that employs him. He seemed to view Tremins as more of a mainstream beer and he offered us what he seemed to more of an artisanal choice, La Rulles Tripel. Pairings like this help to prove how beer is food. 

Quite easily the finest Tripel I have had.

St. Feuillien as suggested by the bartender, dude knows his beer.

We systematical destroyed the cheese and bread platter as it was the first real meal we had had in a while. My Italian heritage I am sure bled through with my various sublingual utterances of excitement with our food pairing. As we drained the last of the La Rulles Tripel, which was a huge hit for all of us, we moved on the the St. Feuillien Saison. With this, our second fresh Belgian offering, a theme was developing. These beers are far more crisp and balanced when enjoyed young and properly handled. They are far hoppier, more hop flavor, and a firmer bitterness than the bottled product we get post transport. As much as we were enjoying our surroundings, we decided to continue the search for currency exchange so we could move on to Cantillon. 

After some more fumbling, we found a Western Union, and located a cab. I approached the driver and held up the address of the brewery and asked if he could take us there. He said, "You aren't going to drink the beer are you?" That made me smile. He agreed to take us so we piled in, and off we went on what would turn out to be one of those beer experiences that I will always view as one of my finest. 

To be continued...

Drink good beer with good people!


  1. Outstanding, is Cranker's going to be hiring you an assistant any time soon?

  2. As of right now I am not in need of anyone on the brewery side. The kitchen and waitstaff should have openings though. Call the Cranker's in BR for more info.

  3. Aha! So that's what the TGBBR hash tags were all about. Good to hear your having a great experience! Can't wait to hear some stories Wednesday. *thumbs-up*

  4. I cannot believe you wandered around Brussels with a fistful of dollars, and didn't end up drugged and sold into sex slavery.