Tag Archives: Belgium

163. Girardin Gueuze Black Label 1882

When the lovely people behind Camberwell’s ever-magnificent Stormbird open a brand new pub in South London, you can sort of predict that Threehundredbeers will make an effort to be first on the scene.

Slightly too much of an effort in fact, as I pitched up outside the Star & Garter on opening night to find the place still to be something of a building site. Never mind, a couple of days later with the paint still drying, I was able to spend a very pleasant Sunday afternoon working through the impressive tap lineup.

And the fridge of course, because quietly minding its own business in there was a beer from the list which has not been at all easy to track down. In fact I’m not sure I recall even seeing it in Brussels. Anyway, here’s the Girardin Gueuze 1882, or “Black Label” as it’s known, for fairly self-evident reasons.

Girardin Gueuze Black Label 12882 at the Star and Garter, Bromley

Girardin are a family-run brewery based in the tiny Belgian village of Sint-Ulriks-Kapelle, and they produce two editions of their Gueuze: the White Label and this, the Black. This is the one the proper beer nerds tend to seek out, as it’s the unfiltered, unpasteurised version, bursting with delicious Lambic flavours.

It’s a complex beer, blended from 12, 18 and 24 month aged Lambics. It’s sour as befits the style, but not as brow-moisteningly so as some examples. Instead it’s zesty and citrussy yet full of soft vanilla and peach flavours and the unmistakable musty notes provided by the Brettanomyces yeast.

There are constantly extra depths to discover as you take your time over it and wish you had one of the larger bottles instead.

I shall certainly return to the Star & Garter before long and see what else we can find there. Bromley has certainly hit the jackpot now beer-wise, and I wish everyone involved in the new pub all the best.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brouwerij Girardin, Sint-Ulriks-Kapelle, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: The Star & Garter, 227 High Street, Bromley, London BR1
Serving: 375ml bottle

157. Abbaye des Rocs

The Threehundredbeers tour of Scotland continues. After a day out in Ellon, Aberdeenshire touring the BrewDog brewery and tasting some of their wares at the giant-dog-friendly DogTap [Edit 2022: the DogTap has been moved and enlarged], we’ll stop off for the night in Aberdeen and see what beery delights the city can offer us.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about six°north. Indeed, any bar that gets to hold a Cantillon Zwanze Day is going to be worth a little of our time. Plus it’s about 20 yards from my Premier Inn, so let’s pop in and have a look.

The Bar at six°north, Aberdeen

We’re officially in Scotland to look for Scottish beers, of course, but among six°north’s extensive menu of 313 bottles (yes, I counted them), Belgium is particularly well-represented. Here’s one I haven’t spotted on any of my trips to Brussels: a hefty 9.0% Abbey Beer from Montignies-sur-Roc, a tiny village close to the border with France.

Abbaye des Rocs at six°north, Aberdeen

We’ve already tried Abbaye dec Rocs’ Blanche des Honnelles wheat beer, but this is a very different proposition: stronger, darker and heavier, I can see the good people of Aberdeen welcoming a glass of this on a near-Arctic winter evening.

Abbaye des Rocs is a deep, rich chestnut colour, though by no means opaque. There’s very little in the way of froth, in part due to the well-trained barman’s careful pour.

The aroma is as Belgian as it gets, with those distinctive esters front and centre. Goodness me it’s rich too, and full of that roasty, bonfire toffee caramel sweetness. In fact this one probably has more in common with a Barley Wine than a typical Belgian brown.

It’s pretty easy to forget the strength, and glug away happily as the beer gets to work and keeps you warm, despite the proximity to the Arctic circle, which I haven’t actually checked on a map. But this is the furthest north that we’ve sampled any of the list so far, and it seems a fitting choice.

Good stuff then, and I can definitely recommend a visit to six°north any time you’re in town.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie de l’Abbaye des Rocs, Montignies-sur-Roc, Belgium
Style: Abbey Beers
Strength: 9.0% ABV
Found at: six°north, Littlejohn Street, Aberdeen
Serving: 330ml bottle

153. Abbaye des Rocs Blanche des Honnelles

Here’s a beer that’s been sat in the Official Threehundredbeers Cellar (my spare room) for a while now. A lazy summer Sunday afternoon seems an appropriate time to crack open a chilled Belgian-style Wheat Beer

Abbaye des Rocs Banche des Honnelles

I always expect this style of beer to pour a cloudy white, but Blanche des Honnelles is another that comes out a vibrant golden colour. As always with a wheat beer, there’s that moment of indecision where you try to remember whether you’re supposed to pour the yeast into the glass too. A dilemma which resolves itself when you realise you’ve already plopped half of it in there while you were making up your mind.

The body is full and smooth, perhaps as a result of oats being used alongside wheat and presumably barley. There’s a pleasant, subtle citrus aroma which reminds you that some folks like to add a slice of lemon to this style of beer. You wouldn’t do that in public, of course, but I think it would work.

Beyond that, in terms of flavour, there isn’t a great deal going on. Instead it’s just a drinkable, refreshing tipple.

Indeed, this is quite an inoffensive beer, and you can see why it’s popular in Belgium with the sort of drinker for whom a stonking great double-figures behemoth like Bush Ambrée or a rich, dark Quad such as Rochefort 10 might not hit the spot. The respectable 6% ABV strength is well hidden too. Blindfolded, I’d probably guess that Blanche des Honnelles weighed in closer to about 4%.

It’s nice enough, all in all. A pefectly fine example of its style, but it’s a beer that doesn’t leave a great deal to say here.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie de l’Abbaye des Rocs, Montignies-sur-Roc, Belgium
Style: Belgian-style Wheat Beers
Strength: 6.0% ABV
Found at: Beers of Europe
Serving: 330ml bottle

148. Cantillon Gueuze-Lambic

Since we’re quite so comfortable sat at the bar here at La Capsule, let’s pick something more from the impressive tap list to follow the local speciality L’Angelus Bière de Garde.

I’m a big fan of Cantillon as is no doubt fairly clear by now. I toured the brewery in Brussels last year, and enjoyed the Kriek, then returned last month for the perhaps even better Rosé de Gambrinus. The Gueuze-Lambic is the core of the range, being the straight Geuze upon which the fruit-infused beers are based.

To my very great surprise, it’s served here at La Capsule in cask-conditioned form. I really had not expected to see handpumps in France, let alone one with Cantillon in it, so let’s not miss out.

Cantillon Gueuze-Lambic at La Capsule, Lille

The smell is amazing, eye-watering even. To be frank, cask Cantillon Gueuze-Lambic stinks to high heaven, but in a good way. The sourness is fully apparent but there’s a great yeasty funk to the aroma too, with mushroomy, musty, horse-inflected Brettonomyces-like yeast notes reminiscent of an aged Orval.

It smells nicer than it sounds, and obviously the flavour is stunning. Brow-moisteningly sour, it’s crammed with tangy, face-contorting citrus. Quality Geuzes such as the Cantillon always have so much depth and complexity behind that sourness though, from the expert blending of years-old barrel-aged Lambics.

That’s very much the case here, and the cask conditioning really works. Compared to the bottled or only slightly less rare keg beer, the edges are rounder and softer bringing a beautiful balance to proceedings. The finish is so long and dry I’ll still be tasting it back in London. This is a stunning beer in immaculate form.

I’m having a good day, all in all. With a few more moments to kill before running for the Eurostar, I followed the Cantillon with something called Capsoul. This is the La Capsule house beer, brewed by the renowned Belgian brewery De Struise. It was dark and rich and far easier to drink than its 10% strength might lead you to expect. So I had two.

It was starting to turn into a Saturday night at La Capsule by this point, and the somewhat compact bar was quite bustling, though the atmosphere remained as relaxed and convivial as I’m sure it always is. I was sad to leave, and I’ll make a point of returning before long.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Cantillon Brouwerij, Brussels, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: La Capsule, Rue des Trois Molettes, Lille, France
Serving: Cask, 25cl

146. Leffe Triple

Exciting times are in store as we’re back on the road again, or at least the Eurostar, for a day trip to Lille.

While France in general doesn’t have a great reputation as a destination for the beer lover, Lille itself is very much worth a visit, as we’ll hopefully see in the next couple of posts.

As capital of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, Lille is the heart of Bière de Garde country. The proximity to the Belgian border means we won’t go short of a Belgian tipple or two either. Like this one.

Leffe Triple at Café Leffe, Lille

While it may seem a little odd to come to France to try something Belgian, where better to lay our hands on one of the less commonplace of the Leffe beers than at Café Leffe, just off the Grand Place. I used my very best French—a combination of pointing and hoping for the best—to commandeer a welcome cup of black coffee, followed by the house tartine and this, the 8.5% Leffe Triple.

Stronger and hoppier than the Blonde, which is very easy to find in the UK, the Triple is nevertheless an appealing golden honey colour. It’s a sight for sore eyes after an early start, that’s for sure.

It’s lovely stuff too. I’ve had this one in London and not been blown away, yet here, served with the correct glass at a table outside a very pleasant café, I’m convinced it tastes many times better.

Leffe Triple is in many ways a typical Belgian Tripel, the likes of which we’ve seen before. It’s sweeter perhaps, though roundedly and never cloyingly so, with those dried banana notes so characteristic of the style very much in attendance. It’s big and bitter too, but far from harsh.

That may be helped by the oranges added to the brew, while milled coriander seed adds a subtle heat, at first barely detectable yet building steadily as you work your way towards the bottom of the glass.

Leffe Triple with brunch at Café Leffe, Lille

Which seems to happen surprisingly quickly, given the strength of the stuff, but never mind. It’s now chucking it down on the Grand Place, so since I’m a very happy camper sat here on the covered and heated terrace with my beer and my crossword, I think we’ll stay a little longer.

Thus, I followed this with the dark, rich Leffe Radieuse before wandering the rapidly drying streets to see what other beery delights this town might hold for us. I wasn’t disappointed.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Leffe/AB-InBev, Belgium
Style: Abbey Beers
Strength: 8.5% ABV
Found at: Café Leffe, Place Rihour, Lille, France
Serving: 330ml bottle

144. Anker Gouden Carolus Classic

As this particular Brussels adventure draws to a close, what better way to bookend the trip than with a return visit to Poechenellekelder, back where we started with De Dolle Arabier a couple of days ago.

It’ll be a good opportunity to fortify ourself for the trek home with one last croque monsieur, and to pick off a final beer from the list, Anker Gouden Carolus Classic.

Anker Gouden Carolus Classic at Poechenellekelder, Brussels

Brouwerij Het Anker are based in Mechelen, Belgium and the Classic is one of several beers in their Gouden Carolus range, named after the golden coins of Belgian-born Roman emperor Charles V.

It’s certainly a change from the usual Belgian blonde beers. Dark and sinister with a small tan froth, it’s more reminiscent of a porter. It smells that way too, with smoky tobacco aromas alongside generous helpings of dates and other rich dried fruits.

The counter at Poechenellekelder, Brussels

Gouden Carolus Classic is remarkably easy drinking, and certainly doesn’t taste its full 8.5% strength. Instead it’s smooth and creamy with a tiny bit of sweetness that’s almost reminiscent of a milk stout. That smokiness is evident in the flavour, as are lashings of singed bonfire toffee and liquorice notes.

I like this one. It’s the perfect beer to soothe your system after a hard couple of days of Belgian research, but it would also go very well with rich stews or game.

And with that, we bid farewell to Poechenellekelder and to Brussels for the time being. I don’t think there’s any doubt that we shall return.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brouwerij Het Anker, Mechelen, Belgium
Style: Old Ales, Barley Wines and Vintage Ales
Strength: 8.5% ABV
Found at: Poechenellekelder, Rue du Chêne, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330ml bottle

143. Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus

It’s day three in Brussels, and you certainly didn’t think I would come all this way without a return visit to Cantillon. I toured Cantillon last year, and very much enjoyed the Kriek, a sour, cherry-infused version of their world famous Geuze.

There sadly wasn’t time to repeat the tour this time, so you’ll have to make do with my words and pictures from last year, a morning when I practically had this venerable beery mecca to myself.

In a pleasing turn of events, there are still three Cantillon beers to be covered, and the thirsty beer pilgrim can sample this one, the Rosé de Gambrinus in the tasting rooms for a couple of euros. Let’s order a glass, steer clear of the deathtrap furnace in the middle of the room, and pull up a barrel.

Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus at Brasserie Cantillon, Brussels

The Rosé de Gambrinus is a very similar style of beer to the Kriek. Like that one, this is a Geuze, a bottle fermented blend of barrel-aged sour Lambic beers—a style in which Cantillon lead the world—infused with fruit, in this case raspberries.

And oh my, it’s good. It’s a shame the glass used here isn’t big enough to get your face right in there and fully enjoy the aroma, because it is fantastic. Face-puckering sourness laden with gorgeous raspberry fruit and the smell of generations of the same family perfecting their signature brewing style and technique.

To taste, it’s just a lovely beer. The sourness is pretty full on, but unlike the Kriek, which is made with sour cherries, the sweetness of the raspberries hits a perfect balance, without ever straying into Robinson’s cordial territory. Indeed the finish is long, tart and moreishly dry.

Initially light, zesty and refreshing, you imagine you could drink this all day, and yet it’s so complex that you’d still be discovering new depths to it at bedtime. Given that it’s not quite 11am yet and there is other business to attend to before we run for the Eurostar, we had probably better not try anyway.

We will, however, take advantage of the unnecessarily reasonable prices at the brewery shop—£6 for a 75cl bottle of Vigneronne would tempt you to leave London for good—and load up the rucksack with some treats to take home.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Cantillon Brouwerij, Rue Gheude, Brussels, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: Cantillon Brewery, Brussels
Serving: Glass, poured from a 750ml bottle

142. Maredsous Bruin

Since we’re at Café Bebo already, it seems like it would be rude not to see whether there’s anything else on the menu that may be of interest to us.

There is, of course, and it’s a strong, dark Abbey Beer brewed under the supervision of the Benedictine monks of the Abbaye de Maredsous, deep within the Walloon region, some distance south of Brussels.

Maredsous Bruin at Café Bebo, Brussel

We enjoyed the even stronger Maredsous Tripel at Lowlander back in London, but there’s something nice about finding a beer in its home country.

This is quite a different beer. The deep ruby brown colour is a giveaway, of course, as is a huge peppery aroma full of caramel and sinister dark fruits.

It’s lovely stuff too: rich, warming and packed with fruity date and raisin notes. The caramel is there in the flavour, but the beer isn’t oversweet. Instead there’s a satisfying, roasty coffee-like bitterness in the finish.

Maredsous Bruin is broadly similar to a Trappist Dubbel, such as the La Trappe Dubbel, though it’s darker, fuller bodied and a little stronger. Indeed, the respectable 8% ABV strength isn’t hidden, but really doesn’t need to be. This was always going to be a beer to take your time over and savour slowly. It would make a great winter or after-dinner beer, though sat in a Brussels café on a spring afternoon was just fine too.

Café Bebo, Brussels

I think that’s all of the beers we need from Café Bebo, but that won’t stop me dropping by any time I’m in Brussels. I’m rather fond of the place, and it’s been pleasing to finally work it into the blog.

A special word of thanks must go to The Beer Boutique, a cracking beer shop in Putney, London. My minimal tasting notes from the afternoon at Café Bebo reflect the fact that 24 hours researching beer in Brussels will take its toll on a chap. The Beer Boutique kindly got this one in stock at short notice, allowing me to cobble together something resembling a blog post. My thanks to them for that.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Abbaye de Maredsous, Denée, Belgium
Strength: 8.0% ABV
Found at: Café Bebo, Place Rouppe, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330ml bottle

141. Silly Double Enghien Blonde

Allow me to take you to one of my favourite little Brussels cafés, this time one just slightly off the well-trodden tourist trail.

I have a bit of a soft spot for Café Bebo on Place Rouppe, about halfway between central Brussels and the Eurostar terminus at Brussels Midi, since this was the first place in Belgium that I ever had a beer. It was a Saison Dupont in February last year, and very welcome it was too as I started to get my bearings in an unfamiliar city, and began to realise just how out of my depth I was language-wise.

Bebo is essentially just a street corner café in the continental style, and tends to be frequented more by Bruxellois regulars than by gawping sightseers like myself. That it has a well-chosen, if compact, beer list and does the cheesiest croque monsieur I’ve ever tackled does not hurt at all.


There’s nothing particularly silly about Silly Double Enghien Blonde. Silly is a tiny village about 40 kilometres to the south east of Brussels, and is home to Brasserie de Silly, a small family-run brewery tracing its history back to 1850. One doesn’t tend to stumble upon their products too often and Café Bebo remains the only bar in which I’ve ever seen this one.

Double Enghien Blonde is a pretty typical 7.5% blonde beer in a broadly similar style to the De Dolle Arabier. It’s served here with the correctly-branded tulip glass, much as one comes to expect in this city.

Café Bebo, Place Rouppe, Brussels

There’s a big fat yeasty aroma, again not challenging expectations. That seems to be the theme with this one. If you’ve ever had a Belgian blonde beer such as the easily-obtainable Leffe, you know what it tastes like, though Double Enghien is of significantly higher quality.

My tasting notes from the day run to a few words: “standard Belgian blonde” and “a bit sweet”. Maybe I was tired, but back in London and sipping the bottle I brought home with me, I struggle to find a great deal more to say about it. I do detect some nice citrus notes though, in particular lemon zest, and chewy sultana fruit.

Either way, it’s nice enough, and was thoroughly welcome after a hard day trying to decipher the bewildering Brussels tram system, and several times almost learning the hard way that the green man at the pedestrian crossings in this city does not mean what you think it means.

Do be careful when crossing roads in Brussels.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie de Silly, Silly, Belgium
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 7.5% ABV
Found at: Café Bebo, Place Rouppe, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330ml bottle

140. Saison de Pipaix

It’s my second day in Brussels, and for some reason I’m behind schedule already. That the previous night’s visit to Poechenellekelder led to Moeder Lambic Fontainas and finally a nightcap and Kip Kap at A La Mort Subite may be a factor.

I’d hoped to make it to Delirium Café early. It’s a Brussels institution which boasts a beer menu the size of a telephone directory, and which claims to stock around 3,000 beers. The plan had been to arrive at opening time and ruthlessly tick off a half dozen or so of the required beers before the inevitable crowds of tourists arrive.

Delirium Café, Brussels

Instead, Threehundredbeers shambled its way down the stairs to Delirium’s cellar at around lunchtime, more in need of coffee and food than beer. Still, duty calls. As does an absolutely lovely glass of something I’ve never seen in the UK named Saison de Pipaix.

Saison de Pipaix at Delirium Café, Brussels

Saison is that uniquely Belgian style of beer that was brewed on farms at some point in the past to keep the workers hydrated, or at least to stop them complaining.

We previously met the archetype of the style, Saison Dupont. That’s a true classic beer, so this one—from a tiny steam-powered brewery—has a lot to live up to. Let’s take a seat at the bar and jab our fat fingers clumsily at the menu, rather than make a plonker of ourselves by trying to pronounce the name.

It’s a lively little so-and-so, this one. Highly carbonated due to natural fermentation in the bottle, the beer frothed all over the place on opening. The very experienced barman had anticipated this, and had a second bottle to hand. Of course, that one practically exploded too.

A couple of apologies and some expert beer husbandry later, Threehundredbeers was presented with a large tumbler of the stuff—nearly two bottles for the price of one—plus a small glass of the yeasty sediment for tasting. For the equivalent of about £2. Happy days.

And what beautiful stuff it is too. Saison de Pipaix is quite different to the Dupont: a great deal fuller-bodied and bursting with malty sweetness. Oddly enough I’m reminded of Young’s Special London Ale, an old favourite.

There are peppery hops and some interesting aniseed notes, and on sipping the little glass of yeasty gloop, there’s the tiniest hint of Brett-like sourness, which seems appropriate for a farmhouse-style beer. Flavour-wise, there’s a lot going on, which makes sense when you learn that Saison de Pipaix is brewed with the addition of countless things like anise, pepper and lichens.

Either way, this was a thoroughly restorative beverage, and very much hit the spot. A lovely beer in a fascinating bar. I’d have liked to stay a little longer, but was eager to make it to Brasserie de la Senne’s tap room, a tram ride away, before closing time. Still, it seems likely that this won’t be our last visit to Delirium Café.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: La Brasserie à Vapeur, Pipaix, Belgium
Style: Saison
Strength: 6.0% ABV
Found at: Delirium Café, Impasse de la Fidelité, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330ml bottle