De Halve Maan

Another town, another brewery. De Halve Maan has been brewing in Bruges since 1856, and only recently introduced their fourth beer. The brewing scene in Europe is a bit less fast-paced than in the U.S., apparently. De Halve Maan is a popular place — the 45 minute tour was packed. Unfortunately, they only had two of their beers on tap, and after those I really needed to get other things done. Maybe I can find the Straffe Hendriks in bottles elsewhere before I’m done with this trip.

The tour was really enjoyable. We scrambled around throughout the entire building, even getting on the roof at one point. The guide (Andrew?) was funny and energetic and imparted a whole lot of information in a very entertaining way. I was impressed.

Update! – I did find one of the Straffe Hendriks beers, at one particular restaurant in Maastricht, which solved the problem of deciding where to eat dinner that night. 4/20/11: Thought I wouldn’t be updating this again until my next trip to Europe, but the Quad showed up on tap at Pine Box in Seattle a couple months ago.

moon logo

Moon logo by the brewery entrance — Bruges, Belgium

    Rob’s Picks

  • Brusge Zot – 6% – Their blond ale. Good golden color and cloudiness. Lovely bready taste with sour edge. Fairly complex taste but very drinkable.
  • Straffe Hendrik Tripel – Good strong-tasting tripel. Sweetness balanced by the alcohol taste. Pretty light on the tongue, actually.
  • Straffe Hendrik Quadruple – 11% – Floral aroma. Floral hop flavor mixed with strong caramel and a bit of alcohol flavor. A touch of anise, too. Fairly light on the tongue, and very drinkable.
    The Rest

  • Brusge Zot Dubbel – 7.5% – Very different from the blond. Darker, sweeter, less sour tasting. Sort of a Belgian bock. Good, but a bit too sweet for my tastes — this gentleman prefers the blond…
brusge zot

A glass of Brusge Zot — Bruges, Belgium

De Halve Maan also had logo glassware for sale. Argh! All these cool glasses just slipping through my fingers. I’m hoping to bring home some sort of glass from Europe. Maybe from Switzerland…

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Brasserie Cantillon

Hey, it’s a brewery post from Belgium!  I’m in Europe for six weeks, visiting some friends, seeing some sights, and sampling some beer. Cantillon was mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide, and I’d read about it in a Belgian beer-centric travel article. So I was looking forward to the visit. They were closed because of Easter when I went by on Monday, but it was business as usual on Tuesday. Cantillon Brewery has been mixing up the lambic since 1900, and still use a bunch of the same equipment since day one. From the informational handout, it looks like they do nine different brews (all based on lambic), but I only sampled three of them. They were quite nice, I thought.

glass and bottles

My Cantillon taster with a selection of their bottles for sale — Brussels, Belgium

    Rob’s Picks

  • Gueuze – A mixture of one-, two-, and three-year old lambic. Really sour! Taste is intense, but hard to describe. Kind of malty. Fascinating.
  • Kriek – Cherries in lambic. Cherry aroma not too strong, but flavor a good complement to the lambic.
  • Rosé de Gambrinus – Raspberries in lambic. Very strong raspberry aroma, but flavor’s not too strong — mixes well, though.
Cantillon

Outside the Cantillon Brewery — Brussels, Belgium

old skool mash tun

Antique mash tun that they still use — Brussels, Belgium

cooling tun

I’d never seen a cooling tun before. This is where the magic (i.e. the spontaneous fermentation) happens. — Brussels, Belgium

barrel fever

The lambic ferments in these barrels in the attic of the brewery for three years — Brussels, Belgium

steam clean

Steam cleaning an aging barrel. The shiny chain hanging from the post is another part of the cleaning process. — Brussels, Belgium

aging gueuze

Bottled Gueuze aging to perfection — Brussels, Belgium

brewery cat

Don’t want to know what sort of beer this will be… (this was actually an old barrel being used as a table in the tasting room that the brewery cat seemed to like) — Brussels, Belgium

They also had various logo glasses for sale. This was frustrating — I didn’t want to carry around glassware with me for six weeks, but I could’ve had a lovely Cantillon tulip glass! Mon Dieu!

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