This is the brewery-tap of the excellent 't Ij brewery. Spit & sawdust would probably be a step up for the place, but the beers brewed on the premises make it well worth a visit. I particularly recommend trying the Columbus and the Struis, both of which score 5/5 on my personal beer scale. Unfortunately opening hours are restricted - it's only open Wednesday to Sunday, 1500-2000.
Funenkade 7; Tel: 020-3201786; www.brouwerijhetij.nl
Without doubt the best beer bar in Amsterdam, this is a traditional brown cafe with a tremendous range of beer and staff who know about that beer. I understand the barrels at the back of the main room are from the Genever distillery that the building used to house. Unusually for a Dutch bar, there's even a non-smoking room. It can be quite hard to find, being down an alleyway, but there's a map on their website.
Kolksteeg 3; only a short walk from Amsterdam Centraal Station; tel: 020 427 86 60; www.indewildeman.nl
Tucked away in a square in the Born area (near the seafront) is this wonderful little tapas bar. Expect to queue ... in fact the queue is half the fun as it snakes up and down and around the bar. You can drink while you queue and enjoy the atmosphere. When you come to order, if you don't speak Spanish, just indicate that you want it all. The food will keep coming until you signal you've had enough! All food is cooked fresh in front of you and the staff are a lot of fun.
Plaça les Olles, 8 08003 - Barcelona www.calpep.net
By day, a tapas restaurant; by night, a bar/club. A lively mix of French and Spanish influences in music, food and drink. The young crowd here can be relied upon to dance with a passion and energy that is quite uplifting for a visitor from the UK.
This excitement is partly due to the live trumpet player at weekends, who, to disguise the DJ's average mixing skills, blasts out the south of France fanfare heard at rugby games and all over the region. This works the crowd into a frenzy, tempered only when the trumpeter slows things down for the Spanish national anthem. Then another fanfare, and the crowd go wild again. It's like this every weekend.
1 Rue Gabriel Peri, Toulouse. Nearest station: Gare Matabiau
One of the world's classic beer bars, Kulminator's beer list runs to over 400 beers including a lot of vintage beers, some as much as 20 years old. The five-year-old bottle of Gueuze de Neve I bought here was the most delicious beer I've ever tasted (and I've tasted quite a few). The one down-side is that the last couple of times I've visited, the place has been infested with clouds of irritating flying insects, so I'd suggest only visiting in the winter, when with luck they won't be there.
Vleminckveld 32, Antwerpen Tel: 03/232.45.38
A small bar popular with the locals, between the main shopping area and the market. The Oud Arsenaal specialises in Lambic and Trappist beers; it's probably your best bet in the city if you want to try the rare Westvleteren Abt (deservedly voted the world's greatest beer in 2005.) This is a very friendly bar, the couple who run it have amazing memories for faces; the first time I visited Antwerpen I spent an evening there, then when I came back six months later they recognised me at the Beer Passion Weekend and came over to say "hello". Guest beers change frequently and there are often special offers (I had a wonderful evening here drinking bottles of Hercule at only EUR2.20 each.) They also have a special beer, Arsenaaltje, brewed for them by the local De Koninck brewery. The only downside to the Oud Arsenaal is its opening hours. It closes early in the evening (about 7:30 or 8:00) but it's worth a visit while it's open.
Maria Pijpelincxstraat 4, Antwerpen Tel: 03/231.84.76
My favourite bar in Antwerpen, 't Waagstuk may not have the most extensive beer menu in the city, but what's on the menu never disappoints. There's always a good selection of Lambics and Trappist beers and a regularly changing guest beer on tap. Decent food too, with a reasonable selection suitable for vegetarians.
Stadswaag 20, Antwerpen, about 5 minutes' walk from Meir, the main shopping street. Telephone: 03/225.02.19 Website: www.proximedia.com/web/waagstuk.html
An average Belgian bar might have a couple of dozen beers available. A good Belgian bar might have a couple of hundred. The Delirium Cafe has over TWO THOUSAND beers available at any one time. Not only a terrific range of Belgian beers but also beers from over 60 other countries. The menu actually lists about 2500 beers, but they restrict their claimed selection to "over 2000" as not all are available 100% of the time, though I've never ordered anything they couldn't find. One thing to be aware of, the beer price goes up during live music gigs, which happen twice a week. It's in the maze of alleyways that make up the Ilot Sacre, so can be hard to find at first.
Impasse de la Fidélité, 4A, Brussels. About 100m from the Grand Place and not far from Brussels Central Station. Website: www.deliriumcafe.be/ Tel: 32/2.514.44.34
Beer Mania offers over 400 Belgian beers to sample on site, buy and drink at home, or order online. Open 11am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday. The owner, Nasser Eftekhairi, is usually there and is fount of knowledge on all things to do with Belgian beers.
174-176 Chaussée de Wavre, 1050 Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. www.beermania.be Tel: 00 32 2 512 17 88 Nearest metro, Trone or Porte de Namur
Another charming old boozer tucked away off the main drag, The Bear is celebrated for its curious collection of old school ties. Mind your head - in this historic building the ceiling is rather low.
6 Alfred Street, off the corner of St Aldates and High Street
The all-year-round beer garden is warmed by the sun in summer and by scented braziers in winter. Some great ales too, all in a creaking, cellar-like building straight from the middle ages.
4 Bath Place just off Holywell Road Tel: 01865 243235
Every city's got one; Shanghai has three. But this newly refurbished English pub currently has its Irish rivals beat on value at least. The Sheperd's Pie is great and they even have Cornish pasty (sometimes).
1 Wulumuqi Nan Lu (near Dong Ping Lu)
Cafe Popular and Cafe Tacuba are both intsitutions and deliver the authentic DF experience. Cafe Popular is great for good value breakfasts with tons of food and coffee. Can get very busy as it's (as the name suggests) very popular with the locals. Cafe de Tacuba is a bit more expensive but a real experience with waiting staff in pinnies and 50's style head-dresses. Very colourful decor and delicious food. I recommend the hot chocolate and sweet breads. Great to people watch, especially on a Sunday when clans of "chilangos" head out for food.
Cafe Popular - 5 de Mayo Street; Cafe de Tacuba - Tacuba Street nr Allende Metro.
It's the most fantastic classic Italian espresso bar, and the perfect place to spend an hour or so - whether for a coffee at its long sleek bar, or for a bowl of steaming home-made pasta round the kitchen table, cooked in front of you by Italian mammas. Everybody who is anybody goes there.
Bourke Street, Melbourne (nearest station: Parliament) Open Mon-Sat 8am-11.30pm, Sun 12 Noon-8pm Tel 03 9662 1885 No URL but a review can be found here www.miettas.com/Australia/Victoria/Melbourne/PellegriniS.html
A seedy but classy downstairs bar off Pariska off the Old Town Sqaure. The best cocktail menu I have ever seen, and odd fish sticks to go with it. You can just imagine the soviet spies sitting in the corner sipping vodka...
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