There are plenty of bars in Brussels with a foreign touch — or more than just a touch — but only some are truly international. And by that I mean a bar where you can find beers from all over the world, but very local beers as well, and where you can hear the corresponding languages spoken. At The Black Sheep, the Lanterne from the Ixellois brewery L’Ermitage, pouring alongside the IPA from the American brewery in Berlin Stone, illustrates this perfectly.
UPDATE: Closed permanently…
From the outside, L’Atelier must be one of the most unattractive bars in Brussels, hiding its treasures behind a bland garage door, without any windows to peek into. Too often, for unknown reasons, that garage door even stays closed! If the door is open however, don’t hesitate to go inside, forget about the outside world for a couple of hours, and go treasure hunting in this Aladdin’s cave of beer, in the student district in Ixelles.
It had been a while since we last visited the Flagey area for a drink, but Le Murmure still looked pretty much the same as last time we were there. And that’s quite quirky, with its copper pipes curling through the space over our heads, and colourful wall paintings. More importantly however, the De la Senne beers were still pouring from its taps, and quite a few gems from Belgium and abroad adorned the bottle list.
There are many beer stores in Brussels, but only a few make an effort to differentiate themselves from the rest. Beer Mania does so in two different ways: firstly, you can have a cold beer and a meal there, and even quite late. Secondly, they have their own beer, available nowhere else. We had visited Beer Mania already a couple of years ago, but our beer buying interests have since then moved from the mostly Belgian beers on offer there. When they announced a Finnish beer festival however, we saw it as an excellent reason to return.
Most of the places we’ve discussed so far, are found in the same areas: Brussels centre, Saint-Gilles, Ixelles, Schaerbeek. A little while ago we were involved in a little Twitter conversation about the lack of decent beer places west of the canal. We had to admit, apart from some breweries, we only knew of one: Excelsior, in Jette. But this bar could easily fool you with its huge Jupiler and Maes branding on the outside, and even inside, the only visible pump clip is once again on of those commercial pilsners. But once you peek into the fridges, things get a whole lot more interesting…
“Victorian pub” it says on the terrace screen outside The Hairy Canary, and that is exactly what it looks like when you enter. The Hairy Canary is the kind op bar where you would expect the bartender to fill your pint glass, slowly pulling cask ale through a beer engine. Unfortunately — or maybe not? — you’ll rarely find English cask ales on this side of the Channel. For those of you still curious about more traditional English ales, they do serve a couple of those in bottles.
Scott’s Bar is a place we’ve been visiting every once and again for a while now. They have a nice beer selection, it’s quite nearby for us, it’s often open when other places are closed already, and when it’s sunny, the terrace is great – if you’re not bothered too much by this typical example of Brussels facadism!
Not too long ago, they installed an open kitchen next to the entrance and expanded the menu, so it was about time for us to try some food there as well.
We weren’t quite sure which venue to start our blog with, until we noticed a tweet from a friend, picturing a beer menu with a long list of American beers. As it turned out, she was at Le Barboteur where they were having an American themed week, called “Craft Bless America”. So of course, the next day we went there ourselves.
Le Barboteur essentially is a beer store, where you have the opportunity to taste a couple of beers as well. Against one wall you’ll find the unrefrigerated beers on sale to take home. The rest of the little corner shop is filled with tables for the customers who prefer to have a drink right there, a couple of fridges with bottled beers, and a small bar with five beer pumps. Next to the bar, there is a doorway leading to a cosy backroom, where you’ll also find a tiny but interesting beer book selection for sale.