Small in size, big in beers

Birra belga a Bruges

A country doesn't have to be large to be famous for its beers. In small but valiant Belgium, you can find no less than 3,000 unique beers. The Flemish art cities are proud to showcase their beer treasures. Pour yourself a delicious glass of Belgian beer and discover their story with us.

Reading time: 9 minutes, 20 seconds (the time it takes to savour half a Westvleteren XII)


Antwerp: the iconic bolleke and the best pub in the world

The “bolleke” - a glassful of brewery De Koninck's beer - has been a frothy ambassador of Antwerp for over a century. This amber-coloured speciality beer the jewel in the brewery's crown. You can find this brew on tap in just about every pub in Antwerp. Want to get to know the “bolleke” better? An interactive tour through the brewery reveals all in a captivating manner.

De Koninck is a flagship for the city, but it is by no means Antwerp’s only calling card when it comes to beer. The Kulminator, for example, is a second sparkling gem. This legendary beer pub, once chosen as best pub in the world by the prestigious, serves around 600 different beers. That unparalleled abundance makes the Kulminator a place of pilgrimage for every beer lover worthy of the name.

If it’s not just your thirst, but also your hunger that needs to be satisfied, Brewers’ Kitchen knows exactly how to do that. This restaurant of chef and beer sommelier Guy Annemans will tantalise your senses. Brewers’ Kitchen stands for typical Belgian cuisine, seasonal produce and superb craft beers.

With Seefbier, you'll take a journey back in time, hundreds of years ago, it was the number one beer of Antwerp. Unfortunately, during that time, Seefbier perished. In 2011, the Antwerp Brewing Company decided to revive it. In the atmospheric brewing room, you can once again enjoy this cloudy blonde gem.


Ghent: Tradition and youthful energy in one place

When the words “Ghent” and “beer” are mentioned in the same sentence, they are usually followed by the names of two institutions: De Dulle Griet and the Waterhuis aan de Bierkant. You can find these famous pubs in the heart of the city. De Dulle Griet offers you a selection of no less than 500 different beers. At the Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, you will find 150 different brews, 14 of which are on tap. It is a delight to relax on the terrace, on the banks of the River Leie.

Ghent is a city that excels at combining tradition with a contemporary drive. It is no different when it comes to beer. Dok Brewing Company threw caution to the wind with a quirky range of proprietary beers. These are served at various locations, including Hal 16. In this former transformer hall, you can enjoy delicious beers, pizza, burgers and a barbecue. Stroom is the brainchild of a Belgian-American duo who blend tradition, innovation, art, community building and energy-neutral brewing in a range of delicious beers. They can be enjoyed in their cosy brewery bar. Ganzerik - the place to be on Sundays for a convivial brunch - is the birthplace of Pony’s, a crisp and hoppy blonde beer.

And this is just a small selection of what Ghent has to offer. The city has plenty more to offer. Ghent Scenic Craft Beer Walks provides a tasty overview of all the highlights.

Het Anker Mechelen © Photo by Breandu00e1n Kearney of Belgian Smaak:

Mechelen: A city with a Gouden (Golden) mascot

Gouden Carolus is the unofficial mascot of the city of Mechelen. It is the flagship beer of Het Anker, one of the country’s oldest breweries. Tradition and quality go hand in hand there: over the years, the Gouden Carolus Classic has been showered with prizes, medals and accolades at the world’s most important beer competitions. “A full, rich aroma of caramel and pear drop. Powerful, yet smooth. A robust body with rich fruit flavours and a long, warming finish,” was the opinion of the judges at The World Beer Awards.

And we haven’t yet mentioned the siblings of this classic Carolus. Het Anker also brews the Gouden Carolus Tripel and Ambrio, Manneblusser and the Cuvée van de Keizer. Be sure to try the Gouden Carolus Single Malt, a whisky made from the mash of the Gouden Carolus Tripel. If you're looking for a bite to eat then reserve a table in the brasserie next to the brewery. Yet another gem from the Het Anker stable is Batteliek. This microbrewery, distillery and soft drinks producer offers taste sensations as well as conviviality in a former church.

While Het Anker is the backbone of beer city Mechelen, the city has many more things to offer. For those who enjoy tasting beer in a historical setting: De Hanekeef, Mechelen’s oldest pub, has been serving a selection of around forty different beers since 1886.

Oude Markt Lovanio

Leuven: my home is where my Stella is

My home is where my Stella is. That is an immortal Belgian advertising slogan. And if it's true, we are all at home in Leuven. The university city is the birthplace of the iconic Stella Artois. The Artois family started brewingin the year 1708. Those centuries of experience have resulted in a quality product without equal. That tradition is now continued by AB InBev, which brings this superb lager to the whole world. The brewery often welcomes visitors in for a tour with a tasting session.

Stella proves that Leuven thinks big, but the city also offers cosier alternatives. Domus is e great example. You'll find this small-scale home brewery in the shadow of the historic town hall. It has been brewing craft and natural beers free of additives since 1985. Another gem is De Vlier, where you can sip a handful of on-site-brewed (sometimes seasonal) beers in the convivial tasting room.

The passion for beer also finds its way into Leuven's restaurants. Gastrobar Hop is a great example: a convivial and modern restaurant that highly values Belgian beer.

If you're visiting Leuven in late May then make sure to check out the Leuven Innovation Beer Festival which each year brings together a handful of innovative breweries from around the world. Trailblazing brewers gather there and visitors get the chance to sample their unique brews. if you happen to visit Leuven at another time, head to the Oude Markt, where you'll find pub after pub, which is why it is sometimes called the longest bar in Europe.

de beurs Brussel

Brussels: birthplace of lambic and gueuze

Brussels is not only the capital of Europe, but also the birthplace of lambic beer. This sour beer can be drunk as it is, but it also provides the basis for the iconic gueuze and kriek beers. Breweries such as Cantillon, Lindemans and Timmermans are three good examples of that. The first named is also home to the Brussels Museum of the Gueuze. During the brewing season (October to April), the brewery can even be visited during operation. Come and see, smell and taste how that liquid heritage is created.

Brussels knows its classics, but at the same time also leads the way for the present day wave of brewers. Enterprises such as Brasserie de la Senne and the hip Brussels Beer Project are venturing into innovative brews, and with success. Today, their beers are already featured on the menus of every self-respecting pub in the capital.

Those looking to pair these delicious beers with a culinary experience will find what they are looking for at Nüetnigenough (This particular word translates roughly to "insatiable" in the Brussels dialect). This welcoming brasserie pairs classic Belgian cuisine with a fantastic beer selection, a place you never get tired of. Prefer a more trendy setting? GUS subtly brings together the worlds of brewers and gastronomes.

For those wanting an extensive tasting experience, there is only one place to go: Moeder Lambic. This renowned pub serves 400 different, mostly craft beers. Quality is paramount. You see this not only in the sumptuous beer selection, but also in the ingenious system for the 30 (!!) beers on tap. This ensures that each beer flows from of the tap at its own ideal temperature.

If you want to delve deeper into the history of all these treasures, Belgian Beer World is surely worth a visit. Starting in the summer of 2023, it will be telling you everything about our frothy cultural heritage. The interactive experience centre reveals all in the iconic Brussels Stock Exchange building.

For our final "Brussels" tip, we have to cheat a bit. We turn the spotlight on the unmatched pub "In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst", in Lennik. It is located about 20 kilometres from Brussels but deserves a place on every beer lover's bucket list. This authentic pub has several times been voted best beer pub in the world by "De Verzekering" is open every Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. After that, you'll have to be patient for another week. But it will definitely be worththe wait.


Bruges: fairytale city with beer pipeline

Bruges is a picturesque gem brimming with art and heritage: the Belfry, the Beguinage, the Groeningemuseum full with Flemish masters and... 't Brugs Beertje, a renowned beer pub with a selection of over 300 different beers. This legendary pub is part of the city's heritage.

Two beers you will definitely find there are Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik, from the long-standing Bruges brewery De Halve Maan. Here, their creativity extends beyond the glass to under the ground. The brewery actually constructed an underground beer pipeline between the brewing room and the bottling plant that stretches over three kilometres. This proved to be the easiest way to transport beer from point A to point B. But De Halve Maan does not stand alone in defending Bruges' honour. Breweries Bourgogne des Flandres and Fort Lapin also welcome you with open arms into the heart of the city. Equally informative is a visit to the Bruges Beer Experience, where you can learn about the history of beer, brewing processes and different beer styles. This is combined, of course, with extensive tasting opportunities.

And if that's not enough, you can head to one of the many pubs in the city. The Bieratelier is a prime example, always offering 12 Belgian beers on tap. In the cheerful, characterful Rose Red, you can fin all the world's Trappist beers.

Flemish cities are renowned for their art and heritage and our Belgian beer culture fits perfectly into that picture. Since the Middle Ages, we have held craftsmanship in high regard. Expertise and know-how are passed on from generation to generation, with a keen eye for innovation and technology. Both in quantity and quality, our country is at the forefront: 3,000 different sorts of beer, some of which belong to the world's most delicious brews. Experience it in Flanders.

Belgian Beer World in Brussels

The worlds’ biggest interactive center about beer welcomes you in the historic Brussels Stock Exchange building. Learn more about the history of Belgian beer, explore a multitude of aromas and flavours and discover your personal taste profile. End your visit with a beer tasting on the stunning rooftop bar. The view of Brussels is breath-taking!

De Beurs

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