Belgium is a fantastic beer country filled with a rich brewing tradition. This tradition is so strong that there are entire styles that Belgium does far better than anyone else. The tiny country is filled with great breweries and beer bars, including in the picturesque city of Bruges.
Here are my favorite places to drink craft beer in Bruges, Belgium:
Bierbrasserie Cambrinus is one of the greatest beer bars in the world, never mind Bruges. The bar has an amazing lineup of Belgian beers, with fantastic food to match. I had a few beers and for 10 Euros, what I thought was going to be a small platter of beer cheese, pate, salami, and bacon, but ended up being a massive feast that I ended up sharing with several people around me. Some of the dishes at Cambrinus are pricier, but their assortment of cold “snacks” is a steal. On my second visit, I had what they call the “Menu of the Brewers”. At 30 Euros, it’s not cheap, but with my long trip winding down, I decided to splurge. Once again, the food was not disappointing. The three courses consisted of Trappist Cheese Croquettes, Flemish Carbonades prepared with “Gulden Draak” Beer, served with Applesauce, and Crème Brûlée perfumed with the dark Abbey beer of Ename. Plus, of course, beer. Whatever your desire, you’ll find the beer you want here.
De Struise Brouwers
An outpost of De Struise Brouwers sits right on the Burg in central Bruges. It’s a nice, small little shop with a selection of their bottled beers as well as a rotating selection of taps, including some beers that have never been officially released. It’s a friendly spot filled with knowledgable locals. I highly recommend finding some De Struise if you’re in Belgium and looking for some non-traditional local beers. While I like Belgian beers to a point, some of the styles don’t do much for me, particularly the sours. De Struise has a modern take on brewing, so while they do brew some traditional Belgian styles, they also make some fantastic other beers, like Black Albert, which is an amazing imperial stout.
De Kelk (closed at the moment)
is was another great beer bar in Bruges. Again, the bar was next to empty, which was nice. I talked with the bartender about Belgian beer, and he made some good recommendations about where else I should visit when I was in town. We talked about one of the most famously tough to find beers in the world, the highly-rated Trappist Westvleteren 12. Theoretically it is only available for purchase at the trappist abbey where it is brewed, but some bottles find their way into a grey market of bars and bottle shops around Belgium. The guy at De Kelk said he had some in stock, but that it was very young. He recommended that it’s better once it’s been aged for a couple of years, so he advised me against buying from him. He earned major respect from me, as it’s not often that someone would be honest like that. Instead, he told me about a local bottle shop that would probably have it. It appears to be closed for refurbishment at the moment, but hopefully it will return, as this was an amazing bar for true beer fanatics.
That bottle shop that was recommended to me is called De Biertempel. It indeed lived up to the hype. The woman who ran it was super friendly (with the weather being so bleak, I may have been one of the only people who had stopped in all day), spoke excellent English, and was eager to talk beer. This was where I bought my bottle of Westvleteren 12, along with a couple of few other nice selections.
Since I visted Bruges in January, a few places I had wanted to visit were closed, plus new spots have opened. ‘t Brugs Beertje, De Garre, De Zandloper Taphouse, and Brouwerij De Halve Maan all have great reviews, so if you’re visiting, check them out.
The tiny, dense old town of Bruges is a great place to wander from beer bar to beer bar. From old bars that serve beers that have been brewed for hundreds of years to new breweries that are making more modern styles, you’ll be sure to find something you’ll love to drink.
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