There are countless varieties of beers in the market, as well as in humble breweries. Anyone who has claimed to have tasted the best beer has probably gone to Belgium, the source of unlimited beer that can last all of the world’s beer lovers’ lifetimes.
Truly, Belgium has claimed the throne for being one of the best places to go to for beer. In fact, many beer manufacturers have tried to scour the beer-filled streets of Belgium for that signature taste that their beers have been lacking.
Beer lovers are constantly on the lookout for special brews, seeking to find their favorite beer from recommendations from friends and locals. With dozens of beer across the globe and in Belgium alone, when will the search ever stop? Only until one has tasted all beers, apparently.
Those looking for their favorite beer can visit Belgium, where they will surely be treated by a plethora of options.
The Brewery (Shop)
In every occasion, brewery tours will bring their guests to some of the best brewery stores. If you’re on the lookout for hard-to-find beer, then you’re in luck. Brewery stores have an impressive array of local and rare beers for the viewing and tasting pleasure of its enthusiasts. If you happen to end up as a guest of the Abbey of Sint-Sixtus in Westvleteren, you can find a couple of bottles of the famous Trappist beer at cafe ‘In De Vrede’.
It’s quite likely that you’ll end up wanted to buy an entire crate of this iconic beverage, but that’s easier said than done. Buying a crate requires a lot of procedures, and even getting on the list of buyers can be a challenge. Once you get acknowledge, you’ll have to give your car’s license plate number. If all goes well, you’ll be well on your way to buying two crates maximum.
But, not to worry. Even if it’s just a small number of bottles you’ve managed to snag, these bottles cost almost its weight in gold. On eBay and other black markets, Westvleteren 12 is one of the most in-demand beers. Demand for this beer is unusually high, and it’s unlikely for any other beer to take its place any time soon.
If you’re just looking for regular beers, you can still find them in local brewery shops. In Belgium, there are numerous breweries that have become tourists attractions such as the Orval Abbey and the abbey of Val-Dieu, De Halve Maan in Bruges or Cantillon in Brussels. Other beer-related merchandise are also common finds in these breweries.
In Belgium, be on the lookout for breweries that have no proper shops. There are some breweries that won’t sell you beer unless you ask. These are worth giving a shot.
Beer festivals are the fastest way to stock up on beer. All across Belgium, one can find both large and small beer festivals all year round. Three of the most popular beer festivals are the Brussels Beer Weekend during the first weekend of September, the BAB Bierfestival in Bruges in February, and the Zythos in Leuven at around the end of April.
It was the National Federation of Belgian Brewers that begun the Brussels Beer Weekend. Many medium-sized and well-known breweries attend this three-day event. One of the main events during this festival is their award ceremony, wherein Belgian beer ambassadors are “knighted” for their achievements in Belgian beer promotion.
For more knowledgeable beer enthusiasts, they flock to Bruges and Leuven for beer festivals. Here, they can taste and buy the latest brews from local microbrewers.
Aside from the big-time beer festivals in Belgium, there are a lot of local beer festivals to choose from. One example is Modeste in Antwerp, which happens around early October. Brassigaume in Marbehan in mid-October and the Namur beer festival in early July are also local beer festivals that are worth joining.
Belgium is undoubtedly one of the best places to go for beer in the world. Many towns and cities in Belgium have claimed to be the ‘Beer Capital of Belgium’ throughout the years. It isn’t a surprise, since almost every city in Belgium offers some of the best beers in the globe.
Specialty Beer Shops
There are lots of beer shops around Belgium — maybe even too many shops. With the excess of beer shops, it can be difficult to find a beer shop that isn’t too commercialized. There are only a few beer shops that can truly cater to the genuine beer lover’s needs. This is why there’s never a lack of beer crowds that are willing to travel to any location just to discover rare beer paradises.
In Brussels and Bruges, main tourist centers, you can find lots of beer stores that are nothing more than tourist traps. These beer stores have too many souvenir items for sale, and the beer they sell isn’t exactly the best quality. For a genuine beer shopping experience, it’s advisable to head on over to specialty beer shops where the staff has adequate knowledge about beer. Chances are, the staff at specialty beer shops share the same love for beer as you do, and they’ll even be glad to serve you a free taste of their finest beers.
Delices & Caprices, one of Bruges’ mega-stores, is one of the most magical experiences a beer enthusiasts can have. Its owner, Pierre Zuber, a beer enthusiast himself who regularly joins beer competition juries, displays his beers in endless rows of bottles. He even took the time to arrange them alphabetically! His store is like a library for beers. This paradise for beer lovers is the place to go whenever you want to taste new beers in the market, or discover some of Pierre Zuber’s latest discoveries.
Guests who would prefer unlimited choices are directed to largest specialist beer stores outside the city center. Small stores that are part of the Prik & Tik association are must-visits.
Virtual or Physical?
Purchasing beer can be an exciting experience, but if you’re traveling by plane, train, or any other kind of public transport, it can be a hassle. Buying beer online is an alternative to consider. It’s easier, more convenient, and you won’t have to worry about lugging around crates of beer. There are plenty of online shops that sell beer for a reasonable price.
But of course, tasting the beer with the matching ambience always feels like the better option. You can enjoy tastings at the brewery, beer festival, cafe or beer store. If you love the beer so much, you can always place an order for the beer online, so you can expect a crate of beer on your doorstep when you get home.
Recently, supermarkets have been stocking their shelves with more varieties of beers. This makes it convenient for beer lovers to purchase their drinks at any time, at the most convenient location. Because of this, many regional products and specialty beers are given the recognition that they deserve. This has, however, affected big retailers which are known to manufacture a wide range of beers.
There are also supermarkets who have jumped into the beer-selling industry, coming up with their own selection of beers. You might expect these beers to be unsatisfactory, but they’re actually full of flavor and quality. A trip to the supermarket can stock your shelves fast with its wide array of choices. But, if you want something truly authentic and special, you will have to go to local breweries and beer festivals.