Brussels’ oldest football club, 11-time league champions, now play in the Belgian second division. The travails of the club are too complex to document here, but the terraces of the Parc Duden are where the true Bruxellois fans, such as the Union Bhoys, stoic and sardonic yet ever welcoming, meet and party with the steadily growing international following known as the United Colours of Union.
Come join the ranks of the “once bitten, forever smitten” in support of our talented but unpredictable team. This is real football, and the only way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Brussels.
Drink beer on the terraces and sing along (in English) with the friendliest, most passionate and knowledgeable fans in the Belgian league. There’s a great (and cheap) clubhouse under the main stand, plus several good bars opposite. Children and dogs welcome, so long as they wear yellow and blue.
It’s a long way from the corporate sterility of Anderlecht or the Premiership.
Go to www.rusg.be for fixtures; Parc Duden, Chausée de Bruxelles 223; Tram 52 (direction Drogenbos) to Van Haelen from Bourse or Gare du Midi
The last remaining Lambic brewery in Brussels, Cantillon produces some of the most distinctive examples of this beer style. The brewery is open to visitors every day except Sunday. There are no fixed times for tours, you just turn up and they give you a leaflet describing what you'll see then leave you to it. The EUR 3.50 price includes a couple of beers at the end. No matter how many breweries you've visited, you'll never have seen anything like Cantillon. The beer is produced using malted barley, a large amount of malted wheat and prodigious quantities of hops which have been stored for several years so they have lost nearly all of their bitterness. After boiling up the ingredients in water, the wort is pumped into a large flat vessel (known as a koelschip) directly under the roof of the brewery. The roof has many gaps in it to allow micro-organisms (wild yeasts, bacteria, etc.) to land in the wort. It is these micro-organisms which actually ferment the beer, in the way that beer was brewed for thousands of years before Louis Pasteur, working in Lille, discovered yeast. The mix of micro-organisms is unique to the valley of the River Zenne, which is why Lambic is only brewed in and around Brussels. After the wort has been innoculated, it's pumped into huge oak barrels, where it initially ferments vigorously. Then, when the fermentation has slowed down, the barrels are sealed. The beer is left in the barrels for anything up to five years to mature, then it's expertly blended with some younger brews and either sent to a few select bars to sell on draught (as Lambic) or bottled (as Gueuze.) The beer is intensely sour and can come as a shock to first time tasters, but once you get the taste, like I have, you just want more.
56 rue Gheude, Brussels (10 minutes from the Eurostar terminal) Tel: 02 521.49.28 Web: www.cantillon.be/
Sometimes cliches do have a point and there's no point in visiting Brussels unless you fulfil this one - head to Chez Leon.
18 rue des Bouchers; Tel: 02 511 14 15; Nearest metro: Gare Centrale/pre-metro Bourse; Open: noon-11pm Mon-Thurs & Sun, noon-11.30pm Fri & Sat; www.chezleon.be/
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