This is a great little brewery, the only one left in Bruges. Our tour guide was entertaining with a really dry sense of humour as she took us ever upwards demonstrating the malt and hops process as it was (historic machinery) and is now (very modern). From the roof terrace there's a panoramic view over a good section of Bruges, more interesting and detailed than that from the Belfort. The ticket (€5.50 1hr tour) includes a glass of Brugse Zot (Bruges Jester) blond beer and there are two other excellent brews to sample. We had a snack lunch in their cafe too.
Good beer and an excellent tour.
I’m British through and through but nothing says Christmas more passionately than Brugge does each December. The Belgians of course have two celebrations with the Feast of Sint Niklaas coming early in the month!
The city streets are beautifully decked out with twinkling lights and window displays and the main and smaller squares like Market Square and Simon Stevinplein have their stalls selling all kinds of gift, food and drink specialties. It’s a picture book / chocolate box place that you may wander and wonder around in the warmth of their hospitality and friendliness - and in safety.
My ideal 24 hours? I set off on a Friday afternoon straight down the M20 from London and directly into the Eurotunnel terminal from the motorway. Go to the toilet, buy a drink, drive onto the train – 25 minutes of rest – drive off the train, to the end of the tunnel road, turn right and just keep on straight for 55 minutes and there is the Bruges turn-off – 10 minutes later I am parked in the centre. Nothing could be easier and hardly needs a map or GPS!
If I just kept walking around the main central triangle of the city it would only take me some 15 minutes to do so – but there is so much to see that is worthwhile. Ice Skating in Markt, climb the Belfry, eat Flemish beer stew and photograph the canals and picturesque buildings as the sun sets and the sky glows. You are never far away from where your hotel is and it is so easy to take a small break to recuperate and re-energise!
Saturday is market day at Tzand (square next to bus station) – buy wonderful cheeses to take home; visit The Church of our Lady to see the Michelangelo Madonna with Child statue and take a canal boat trip, a museum visit or a romantic Horse and Carriage ride around the cobbled streets. Too much to do – so little time!
Now don’t forget those chocolates, those fresh cream pralines. Much much cheaper than the UK and guaranteed to produce sounds of delight (and quiet munching noises). I also buy ginger bread, chocolate figures and honey waffle biscuits.
Driving home; quickly visit a supermarket in Belgium for very good beer at low prices. Try a jar of Advocaat as this goes great on ice cream or Christmas pudding! Wine is also reasonable in price here.
… and it’s back to Coquilles to catch the train back home. Mission accomplished… Tired and very Happy!
Here’s a link to learn more oldchocolatehouse.com/links.html
In my vocabulary, Bruges means beer!
Start with a morning brewery tour, there are two within walking distance of the centre with free tastings! Then, head for lunch at one of the swanky restaurants by the fish market (go on splash out - you only live once) where you get a different beer with each course and even your own beer waiter!
Then head for one of the taverns near the Cathedral to try a Kwak or two, just for the glass it comes in (think chemical warfare and you'll get the idea). Then if you dare, try climbing the Belfort Bell tower for comic effect or sober up with a walk around the city walls or by sampling a chocolate or waffle or a chocolate waffle!
Finally, end the day sipping your favourite beer while eating mussels and watching the world go by at one of the many restaurants in the Markt Square. Perfect!
You cannot go to Bruges without trying out a few of the best Belgium beers at 't Brugs Beertje (Little Bear) bar - there are hundreds to choose from and they go very well with their "nibbling plate" of cheese, salami and pickles.
The bar staff can help you pick a suitable brew and they have fruit beers to try too. The morning after could include the hiring of a bike and a brisk cycle to Damme a few miles distant along the river, where a decent coffee or hot chocolate boosts you for the home leg.
Great old-fashioned beer cafe with brown walls, beer posters and two dimly lit, smoky rooms. Friendly staff and not really a tourist trap place. There are over 200 bottled beers on the menu, plus five draught beers. Brugse Zot is a good one to try.
't Brugs Beertje
Two-storey pub/bar down a tiny cobbled side alley between the Markt and Burg squares (you'd be lucky to stumble across this if someone hadn't recommended it.) A medieval building with creaky, sloping floors, it actually feels like a place for locals rather than a tourist attraction. There are hundreds of beers on the menu, and tasty cubes of cheese to nibble on. Their housebeer is recommended, but watch the stairs after trying a few glasses of the 11% Brugse Tripel!
De Garre 1, Bruges
A bar and brasserie on Markt with helpful waiters who are only too happy to make beer recommendations for you - I tried a number of trappist ales here. It's on the west side of the square, and the few metres between it and the tourist-heavy row of bars and restaurants on the north side seems to keep it reasonably popular with locals. An ideal place for a good, convivial night out.
A tiny bar squeezed into an alley between Bruges's two main squares, Markt and Burg. Half a dozen tables downstairs and a few more in the equally cosy (non-smoking) upstairs bar - so don't be surprised if there's no room. The beer is excellent, including their own De Garre triple on tap and the tasty Brugse Zot local brew. Instead of the usual peanuts you get a small bowl of delicious cheese as a snack. The choice of beers is not as extensive as at the better-known Het Brugs Beertjes, but I preferred De Garre - it's friendlier, cleaner and feels more like a proper bar rather than a tourist attraction.
De Garre 1, on the right as you walk from Markt to Burg. Hard to spot until you are right on top of it.
Yep, this fantastic bar serves over 300 types of beer. A bit daunting but the beer menu allows you to choose by region, brewing style etc ... and if you're still unsure the bar staff are happy to recommend one.
Given the bar's excellent reputation it can get busy so you may find yourself squeezing onto a table or into a small standing space. Make the squeeze though, the beer and the atmosphere (a great place to chat, gossip, discuss and put the world to rights - in a friendly way - all fuelled by the marvellous beer) is well worth it!
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