A short Thalys hop away from Cologne lays Brussels. As you know, Brussels is the capital of the European Union (EU) and probably of beer, too. No other country in the EU brews more different types of beers than the Belgians.
Derived from their long brewing tradition enrooted by the monks they have many different small, mid, and industry sized breweries all across their country. That means that there must be many beers to taste.
First of all there is a brewery museum "Cantillion" at the Central place but most reviews about it are not too good. Since I know my trade the last thing I needed to see was the museum. Instead, Google maps located some beer shops for me, both which are very central in Brussels.
The Beer Tempel was the first one I entered and it was the one I left fastest. The temperature in there was hot – very hot – and I couldn’t imagine buying one bottle at a shop where the wrong temperature over a longer period of time could possibly harm the product. Perhaps their turn around is fast but that’s only guessing.
The second one was the Beer Planet. They have not that many beers in stock like the Beer Tempel but they have a good and deep assortment. You will find all different types of Belgian beers, even organic and gluten free beers. My tip is to check the best before date before buying a bottle. Some of their bottles were far beyond their date. I got out of the shop with 11 bottles of different kinds of beers. They also gave me a kind of a special cardboard box for carrying the beer.
There was one other shop in the city centre but the prices were off limits. Each bottle was way more expensive than at the other shops. You can also check Carrefour for standard beers like Duvel, Leffe or other major brands. Supermarkets also tend to be cheaper than the "souvenir" shops.
Over the next 3 days we checked out many different bars and beers. We had Geuze, Kriek, Kwak and some Witbier. One of the coolest bars we were in was across the Manneken Pis and is called - how could it be otherwise - "Pis". They showed the alcohol content of each beer together with its price on a chalkboard - which is in my opinion a great idea.
If you have the chance, enjoy a Kwak. It is served in original glasses which where originally designed for staying upright at a stagecoach driver’s seat.
On the last day we found Les Brasseurs de Grand Place which is a brew pub. I’m not yet sure if this place is really operational as I couldn’t smell any malt, grist, hops, cleaning ingredients or fermentation smell. As they offer Tuborg beers I suppose that the plant is run by them and the brewing is done somewhere else – but that’s only guessing - their website states something different.
There are many reviews coming up over the next week. Stay tuned for more Belgian beer tips