The last county we visited on our trip was Belgium. Personally, I was more excited about the chocolate than the beer, but of course I partook in both. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when it came to Belgium, but I'd heard my brother go on and on about how great the country was, so I was ready to explore.
While we were in Belgium, we stayed with family in a small village outside of Ghent, which meant we got to experience typical Belgium life. This of course included visiting the local pub. The place we visited was unassuming, but our cousin assured us that it was the best place for a drink. The bartender/owner was friendly and knowledgeable about his beer selection and even brought out a not-on-the-menu beer for Bryce to try. It was the perfect place to start our last week.
Belgium was full of delightful charms that I hadn’t anticipated. For one, their radio stations had the most random and beautiful music selection. One minute it was ABBA, then the next it was a song from Grease the musical, and finished off with a country love song sung in French. Pure music bliss. Another quirk was the fact that every house we visited had automated black out shutters. These were magical until they automatically opened at 7am. And finally, the house we stayed at had a group of chickens living next door. I never realized that I had not had the pleasure of being woken up at 3am by roosters crowing before. Now I can say I’ve successfully had that experience for an entire week.
But back to the beer.
We were lucky enough to visit three different breweries during our stay. The first was De Halve Maan in Bruges. This brewery is becoming famous quickly as it is the first brewery to install an underground pipeline that pumps beer from the brewery to the bottling facility.
The second brewery is a bit more famous. We took a side trip to Amsterdam and visited the Heineken Brewery. The actual tour part was short, and the rest was a surreal experience where we were able to explore the European hipster drinking scene, full of interactive displays and discotheque music. From this tour we quickly realized that Europeans are in two camps: one loves Heineken beer and the other loathes it and says it’s not beer, but just good marketing.
Our last brewery was a local place near the village we were staying in. We had a personalized tour at Van Steenberge Brewery and were able to see their newly expanded brewing facility and learn about their environmentally responsible kegs. This was one of the first breweries I had been to where they specifically touched on how they are trying to be environmentally friendly in their brewing.
Needless to say, we very much enjoyed our time in Belgium and will definitely be back again.