Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Belgium Trip, Day 5 - Part 2 - Intro to Brugge

It's about an hour drive from Westvleteren to Brugge so we arrived at the campground (Camping Memling) around 2:30 and checked into the trekkershut that was to be our home for the next three nights. After a quick unpacking, we hoofed it just under a mile to the center of Brugge.

We had barely gotten inside the old wall it seemed when we spotted a bar that was on my list of places to visit. It was called Cambrinus. So we headed inside to get a sampling of the beers available in Brugge.

I started with a new beer from Brouwerij Straffe Hendrik, Brugse Bok. It's a Belgian take on a bock beer but for the most part it is remarkably, traditionally German. Outside of a breadiness and a slightly more pronounced hop profile, very traditional and very tasty. Dave started with Brugse Zot from the same brewery.

The bar is a bit more modern than most we had gone to at this point in the trip but with folksy murals on the wall including one of Cambrinus himself above the fireplace. The beer list is advertised at more than 400 and from the look of the menu, I believe it. It was early afternoon and our waitress' service was fairly good by Belgian standards.

Next I moved on to the Adrian Brouwer, a big brown ale at 8.5% ABV which is a stunning combination of the tartness and fruitiness of an oud bruin and the sweet maltiness of a dubbel. Lots of dark fruit and rich breadiness...amazing beer. Dave went with an Alvinne Podge Imperial Stout that was astonishingly good.

By now it was after 4:00 PM, so we headed out to look for some food and just generally see the sights. After wandering around the vicinity of the main square, we stumbled right onto Brugs Beertje. Score!

This cafe was at the top of my list for Brugge and was quite crowded when we entered. We grabbed two rickety chairs at a small table which may have been the last two seats in the house. Even though it was quite busy, our server arrived in no time and took our order. I ordered the Verhaeghe Echte Kriek and Dave took a chance on a mustard bier, Wostyntje from Brouwerij de Regenboog. The Echte Kriek was pretty unique, a mixture of a Flanders red and a kriek, but the combination is a natural that I'm surprised other breweries don't try.

The cafe walls are covered with old brewery signs and it's a cozy, if cramped, little space. The beer list is not as large as Cambrinus but it a very well chosen selection of more than 200. The list is so well-chosen, in fact, that it makes it hard to choose yourself.

For dinner, we ordered a bowl each of Spaghetti Bolognese which was pretty damn good I have to admit.


The lack of sleep (or poor quality thereof) of the past few nights was beginning to take its toll so we threw in the towel and headed back to the campground for an fairly early turn in. Clean showers and comfy beds (the best of the trip so far) were a welcome sight and we split a 750 ml bottle of 60th Anniversary St. Bernanrdus Abt 12 for a nightcap and headed to bed.


deadmanjones said...

I'm going to be in the trekkershut at the end of April, looking forward to tasting as many of the beers you tried. Especially the Hercules Stout. Any tips on the trekkershut and camping memling?

Heath said...

Not really, the trekkershuts are small but clean and comfortable and the facilities at Camping Memling are clean and well-maintained.

Only two warnings: the internet service is not free and the website may lead you to believe, it is 2 Euro for 30 minutes (if my memory serves) but I needed it for Skype. Also, the laundry facilites are small and a bit pricy.

All things considered, I'd recommend the place and I'd stay there again.