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Top 20 Places to Drink Beer in Brussels

top places drink beer 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​ bar

Moeder Lambic​
Place Fontainas 8, Brussels

A relative freshman to the Brussels 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​ facade
 

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​ artwork
 

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 interior
 

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​ interior
 

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​ sign
 

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​ interior
 

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 Lambic, Gueuze and Kriek from shared pitchers while snacking on artisan bread and cheese.

Photo Courtesy Michael Maloney


Le Roy d’Espagne​ bottle and branded glassware on a table

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 facade
 

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.

 


Poechenellekelder​ outdoor seating and drinking area
 

Poechenellekelder​
Rue du Chene 5, Brussels 

Located directly across from the Manneken Pis statue in Brussels is the heavily trafficked Poechenellekelder. Despite the fact that the corner attracts tourists taking selfies, finding one’s way into the museum-like bar is something that shouldn’t be missed. Similar to Toone, Poechenellekelder, which translates to “Puppet Cellar,” is filled with hand carved marionette puppets. Walk downstairs to the old theatre and take in the history while sipping on one of over 100 beers available. Don’t hesitate to engage the staff on beer selections and they will be happy to help guide you.

 


Restobieres​ window sign
 

Restobieres​
Rue des Renards 9, Brussels

Not typically known as a “beer destination” by some standards, the mix of traditional Belgian fare at Restobieres uses beer in preparation of nearly every dish, and thoughtful beer pairings takes things to another level. Quirky is the overall best way to describe the space. Filled with bric-a-brac from across Belgian cooking and beer, the walls create the feeling that one is hanging out at their Belgian grandmother’s house. If you love the food and want to experiment at home, there just so happens to be an official cookbook you can buy called “La Cuisine a la Biere.”

 


Little Delirium Café​ facade
 

Little Delirium Café​
Rue du Marche aux Fromages 9, Brussels

The little cousin of the larger more popular Delirium Café located in the Delirium Village, Little Delirium sits on the opposite side of the Grand Place and is a far more relaxed experience than the larger and more rambunctious other locations. With 30 beers available on draft and a fair selection in bottles, sitting outside one would not even miss the overflowing tourist crowds or Guinness Book of World Records selection at the more popular location. 

 


Beer Mania window sign
 

Beer Mania
Chaussee de Wavre 174, Brussels

A beer lover’s dream bottle shop owned and operated by a true beer lover, Beer Mania has been in operation since the 1980s. Specializing in rare and hard-to-find Belgian beers stacked on shelves from floor to ceiling, this cozy shop is somewhere one could spend a long time exploring. Having trouble making a decision? Not a problem! The owner will be more than happy to answer all your questions or help you narrow down your selections. If you can’t wait until you get home, feel free to sample a few beers at the café in the back of the shop.

 


Monk sign

Monk
Rue Sainte-Catherine 42, Brussels

Located in the hip Sainte-Catherine area of Brussels is the Monk bar. Casual and artsy, the revamped space has elements reminiscent of old pubs in London, with long, wood-paneled benches and ambient lighting. The vibe is local, mixed between Flemish- and French-speaking 30- to 40-year-old creative professionals, sipping on Belgian tripels enjoying some of the house sausages. The scene is very relaxed and inviting, which will make you feel right at home no matter what part of the world you’ve arrived from.


Brewery Taprooms


 

Brussels Beer Project taproom
 

Brussels Beer Project
Rue Antoine Dansaert 188, Brussels

For centuries, Belgium brewing has influenced the world but in recent years the U.S. has been leading the charge, which has in turn influenced the upstart of Brussels Beer Project – a prime example of new young breweries blend tradition and innovation. Recently opened on sourced crowdfunding, BBP has expanded their tap room from a small single storefront to the clean inviting space it is today. Stop in to sample one of the dozen or more beers on draft. On a lucky day, you may catch one of their collabs such as the recent Lifecycle made with Half Acre Beer Co. out of Chicago.

Photo Courtesy Michael Maloney

 


Brasserie de La Senne branded glassware
 

Brasserie de La Senne
Chaussee de Gand 565, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean

Named after the river Senne in Brussels, Brasserie de La Senne originally began brewing back in 2003. However, it wasn’t until 2010 that the owners were able to overcome several setbacks to open officially and become only the second brewery at the time to produce within the city limits. Some claim they are making some of the best new beers in Belgium, and their understated taproom is the perfect place to allow one to focus on what’s important… the beer!

Photo Courtesy Michael Maloney


Brasserie de l’Ermitage​ intimate bar
 

Brasserie de l’Ermitage​
Rue Lambert Crickx 26, Brussels

Opening in 2017 only a few streets over from Cantillon, Brasserie de l’Ermitage has a startup story not unlike any number of the Nano breweries around the U.S. Originally conceptualized by three college roommates making beer on a stovetop, their recipes and techniques were honed while gypsy brewing at Brasserie Bastogne – where funds and a home were secured. Today, they have made a splash on the Belgian brewing scene showing up on tap lists throughout the city. However, it wouldn’t hurt to stop by before or after Cantillon for one of their refreshing Soleil Session White IPAs.

 


Brasserie Cantillon​ beer on a counter
 

Brasserie Cantillon​
Rue Gheude 56, 1070 Anderlecht

There is one place that without a doubt will show up on any beer list in Belgium. Brasserie Cantillon has gained such a reputation in Lambic-style beers that Belgian immigration should expect to find it as the “reason for visit” when arriving at the Brussels airport. Often whispered about from one beer geek to another is the “whale” they brought to their bottle share. Here you have the chance to inhale more of the sour beauty on a self-guided tour than most folks will ever be able to try. Once you are done wandering among cobweb-covered barrels, make your way to the simple 100-year-old tasting room to sample everything from Lambic to Gueuze to Kriek.

Photo Courtesy Michael Maloney


Brussels Beer Festivals


 

Belgian Beer Weekend beer festival
 

Belgian Beer Weekend
Grand Place, 1000 Brussels

Belgian Beer Weekend is the pinnacle showcase for historic breweries taking place in the Brussels Grand Place every fall. Probably one of the most beautiful settings one could imagine to host a beer festival, the Grand Place is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the home of the Belgian Brewers Museum. The beer fest takes place over two days complete with horse-drawn beer carts, brass bands, and the who’s-who of Belgian beer, most easily spotted with their Knighthood of the Brewers’ medallions. Entry to the fest is free, but for a few Euros, one can purchase drink tokens to sample to their heart’s content.

Photo Courtesy Michael Maloney

 


Wanderlust Craft Beer Festival

Wanderlust Craft Beer Festival
Place Sainte-Catherine, 1000 Brussels

The punk little sibling of Belgian Beer Weekend, Wanderlust has been growing and gaining attention for the past six years. Started by Brussels Beer Project to highlight the rise of small craft breweries, Wanderlust was once held the same weekend as the Belgian Beer Weekend festival, but due to politics and negotiations it was moved to the following weekend. With a tagline “Small Breweries – BIG Beers!” BBP saw the rising demand for innovative new brewers to have the stage they were missing out on from the larger more established breweries.


Header Photo Courtesy Michael Maloney/Body Photos Courtesy respective establishment, except where noted

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