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Top 20 Places to Drink Beer in Brussels

Walking the streets on a cool damp night in September, one can only be struck by the sheer beauty of historic Brussels, Belgium. Among its many charms, it’s clear that Brussels has beer running through its veins, so read on to delve into the top 20 places to drink beer in Brussels.

Belgium is one of the younger countries in Europe, which allows the city to display the splendor of a medieval European city mixed in with modern governmental center of the EU. Laid out with mosaic-like intersecting streets and lined with sidewalk cafés that circulate the smell of waffles into the air, there is an energy of a working international city built on the multicultural influences spread across centuries.

Stepping into the roughly 500 cafés or bars serves as an exploration of establishments that have, in some cases, survived for generations. As with the architecture, new and old cohabit the city in an ever evolving and reinventing manner. Belgians love their traditional Tripel but still embrace the influences of IPAs from overseas. Below are a handful on the seemingly endless list of places to discover and experience Belgian beer in Brussels.

Bars and Restaurants

Moeder Lambic​
Place Fontainas 8, Brussels

A relative freshman to the Brussel’s bar scene compared to some others on this list, walking into Moeder Lambic could be walking into any hip new bar in Brooklyn or Chicago up to the moment of being handed a beer menu. Immediately, one is transported back with a list that brings together some of the best breweries from Belgium and the UK. Legendary Cantillon are at home with recent newcomers like Brussels Beer Project. Even more noteworthy is that the draft list is mixed with beers that one would only expect to see on a cellared list.

Café Mort Subite​
Rue Montagne aux Herbes Potageres 7, Brussels

Walking into Mort Subite is like stepping back in time. Vested and aproned bar staff weave in and out of tourists and well-worn wooden tables in a vaulted ceiling space. With grace, servers manage crowds with trays full of the namesake Gueuze and Lambic beers. Immediately one is brought back to the time when employees from the nearby National Bank of Belgium would relax during their lunch breaks, playing a popular dice game and needing to quickly end their games with a “sudden death” round lending to the current French name of the establishment.

Photo Courtesy Michael Maloney

Theatre Royal de Toone​
Rue de la Violette 22, Brussels, Belgium

Hidden down a small pedestrian alley marked with easy-to-miss signage is one of the most unique cafés in Brussels. Upon first walking into the Theatre Royal de Toone, there might be a slightly unsettling feeling as you stare into the faces of shrunken heads mounted on the walls and puppets hanging from the rafters. However, if you look a bit closer it becomes clear these small hand carved pieces are all part of the Toone marionette theatre, the last standing puppet theatre in Brussels. The bustling atmosphere is brimming with history complete with a memorable beer selection that will have anyone ready to regale friends with a story about their time drinking with puppets.

Photo Courtesy Michael Maloney

La Fleur en Papier Dore
Rue des Alexiens 55 1000, Brussels

For lovers of literary or Surrealist art, one place not be missed is a café that was the home of the Belgian bohemian class for the better part of the 20th century. La Fleur en Papier Dore is a space adorned with art, sketches and poems from some of its famous patrons, many of whom used their work in lieu of payment. Sitting in one of the three small rooms, one can almost feel the intense conversations on art or politics that would have taken place over clouds of cigarette smoke and numerous glasses of Gueuze.

Photo Courtesy Mike Wal

Brasserie Verschueren​
Parvis Saint-Gilles 11, Brussels

Located in Saint-Gilles section of Brussels, Brasserie Verschueren had been known as a local’s local bar. However, as the neighborhood changed in recent years, it has become the primary watering hole for expats and locals alike. With its Art Deco façade and simplistic interior, the authenticity permeates from every corner. Whether sitting inside or on the sidewalk terrace, one is quickly absorbed into the life of a true Belgian while sipping on the house Verschueren Triple, brewed by Brasserie de la Senne.

Au Daringman​
Rue de Flandre 37, Brussels

Part of a disappearing breed of bars in Belgium, Au Daringman holds on to its “Brown Bar” (so named for the browned walls from years of smoking) status with the Flemish pride of its founder. Small and intimate is an understatement, with seating for only about 40 patrons, the bar fills up quickly. Artsy and cool, the owner has not let The Guardian’s “Best Bars in the World” change the jazz-era feel of the esthetic or crowd.

A la Becasse​
Rue de Tabora 11, Brussels

One of several hidden gems of Brussels is the dimly lit and dark wood-paneled A la Bacasse, one of the oldest bars in the city. Hidden down an unremarkable narrow alley, with only the sounds of conversation filling the room, one enters a place that feels like a revolution was once discussed within its walls. Nowadays, locals and savvy tourists alike mingle at long communal tables drinking house LambicGueuze and Kriek from shared pitchers while snacking on artisan bread and cheese.

Photo Courtesy Michael Maloney

Le Roy d’Espagne​
Grand Place 1, Brussels

Some may call Le Roy d’Espagne (The King of Spain) a bit of a tourist trap, and while it’s true the location in the Grand Place of Brussels provides a steady flow of foreigners, some important details could be missed by such a simple write-off. Built in 1697 as the original home to the Baker’s Guild, the location survived the French Revolution and eventually became a café in the 1950s. Inside, a host of magnificent murals and wood carvings from its previous life create a gallery-like experience. The food and beer is pretty typically Belgian, but sitting at one of the café tables outside or gazing through a window from inside, people-watching as they stroll through the plaza becomes an experience all its own.

Photo Courtesy Michael Maloney

La Porte Noir
Rue des Alexiens 67, Brussels

Not looking like much from the outside with a relatively common exterior, walking into La Porte Noir immediately places you in a local standout. Located on the edge of Brussels, one will see far less tourists in this Celtic-themed bar. Set in a medieval cellar dating back to the 16th century, and known for their extensive beer and whiskey menus, it has become one of the best places in town for live music as well. The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable and eager to help you with your selection.

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