ABV: 6 %
Most stag weekends these days tend to head to hedonistic Eastern European cities, where the beers are cheap, the police turn a blind eye and if you want to look at ladies or worse, then you don’t have to look too far. Imagine the glares on my friend’s faces when news spread we were heading to Belgium for my weekend of debauchery. A country famed for its expensive beers, heavy handed police and distinct lack of vice; not to mention the tapestries, chocolate and lace.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m the wrong side of thirty, and that my obsession with Belgian Beer was quickly becoming obsessive. Brussels would be the perfect destination for twelve good and proper gentlemen to educate themselves in the art of drinking beer – its just most of them didn’t know it yet. I left the Best Man to sort out the travel and the digs, while I pored over a succession of esteemed beer joints to continue on my Odyssey in style.
Eurostar took eleven of us into the city centre by early afternoon on the Friday, and while we waited for the final team-member to arrive from the Middle East we began to fill our boots in the hotel reception. The sensible ones started on the easy drinking Maes, while in true Beer Shrimper fashion I went for the high ABV Trappists early doors. I’d managed a few of these by the time all parties were present and we headed into town. I’d managed to convince everyone to trust me on the first round of drinks and manfully got the Best Man to rustle up twelve Tripel Karmeliets (#229). While the quality of the beer was never in question there were a few discerning remarks from the real ale drinkers about drinking from floral goblets, and questioning the sexuality* of those who might choose to. If I was to continue educating my group in the finer aspects of Belgian beer then I would need a different approach.
I’d planned the visit to Les Brasseurs de la Grand Place a little later in the night, but now seemed a good a time as any. A real microbrewery, with real mens glasses right in the middle of the famous town square. I could tick off a few more beers that I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else, and my chums could choose from a varied selection of home-made beers or any other lagery drivel they wanted. The more sensible in the group went off and took the opportunity to grab some strategic food to help soak up the alcohol while I stood strong in advocating that any kind of eating was most definitely cheating. It would inevitably be a truly regrettable stance.
The first selection from this tiny little brewpub was the Les Brasseurs Ambree. Contrary to public opinion of which I am now more recently acquainted I found this to be a pretty enjoyable little beer. A deep copper coloured beverage with a spicy little accent on the nose, or at least that’s what I seem to recall. I remember thinking this was going to be the first of many decent beers in this joint but it was largely the pick of what turned out to be a fairly sorry bunch.
*Anybody who has enjoyed the film In Bruges may remember a similar scene.