We heard over and over again that Prague was the king of cheap beer, but Belgium might take the crown. Prague’s low cost pilsner is great, but a euro or two more in Belgium can get you strong IPA’s and great vintage beer. Belgium is a beautiful country, with 3 of its coolest cities located within about an hour train ride from each other. We visited Brussels, Ghent, and Antwerp and discovered beer, old and new, and traditional Belgian genever.
While Delirium was our favorite sport in Brussesls, another Belgian beer must is the Cantillon Brewery. This brewery is considered king when it comes to Lambic beer—a style of beer characterized by spontaneous yeast fermentation. The oldest brewery in Brussels, Cantillon has been operating since 1900 and has changed very little to nothing about their brewing process since then. Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to visit Cantillon being that it is closed on Sundays. However, we did get the chance to try their Lambic Gueuze at Delirium, and it was phenomenal. We regret not being able to make time for a self-guided tour of the brewery, though, since it seems like the best way to fully experience Cantillon Lambic.
Genever is a dutch liquor flavored with juniper berries. Made only in the Netherlands, Belgium, and small areas of France and Germany, genever is what gin as we know it evolved from. Genever can be old or young, depending on the distilling technique. Dreupelkot has over 200 varieties of genever, old, young, flavored and house made. Dreupelkot’s flavored genever’s are quirky and delicious, including flavors like apricot, cactus, vanilla, chocolate, mango, and even chili. The bartender combined chocolate and chili to create a Mexican chocolate style of genever. Be warned, the chili packs a punch. I would not recommend drinking it on its own. The bartender was very knowledgeable and friendly. He told us about the history of genever and their infusion process at Dreupelkot. His dog was also hanging out outside the bar, which was an added bonus for us. The vibe was very laid back and all the other patrons were friendly. It’s a great place to stop by and enjoy a Belgian tradition.
To understand what the Kulminator is, you must understand what a kulminator is. We were told that it is someone who collects antiques for an antique store, I haven’t been able to confirm this, but it’s an incredibly accurate representation of the Kulminator. Walking into the Kulminator is like walking into your grandmas house if your grandma has been collecting beer her entire life. It’s kitchy, not the vibe I was expecting from RateBeer.com’s Best Beer Pub in the world, and the menu is simply a list of beers, written in word, laminated and stuck in a three-ring binder. What makes the Kulminator special is that it doesn’t need a fancy atmosphere or pretty menu, the sheer volume of the beer selection stands on its own. Like Delirium in Brussels, it had hundreds of different beers to choose from, some of which were decades old. Perhaps the greatest thing about the Kulminator, is that you can find a delicious vintage beer that fits your budget. Beers range in size from bottles to bombers and price from 3 to 30 euro.
With so many great places in Belgium to drink, this list doesn’t begin to cover it. What’s your favorite? Comment below.