We drove to Belgium just for the beer

Beer shop, Brussels by Expat Edna

Like many good ideas, the idea to roadtrip to Belgium for beer came about over a few drinks at the bar.

It was the start of expat leaving season in Paris. I was at a friend’s going away party, and with my own time in the city quickly running out, I was ruminating on goodbyes and next chapters, good times past and missed opportunities — and how to stave off the bittersweet end while making the most of the time I had left.

“You know what I always wanted to do, but never got around to?” I mused at a friend, making casual conversation.

“What?”

Take a long weekend and drive to Belgium to do nothing but drink beer and eat fried food.”

(It was a trip I’d wanted to take since discovering Belgian beer in China in 2008, and thus one of the only travel goals I had when I moved to Paris — yet after a year and a half I still hadn’t made it to the neighboring country up north [due to a combination of not wanting to travel alone and one traumatizing experience driving near the Eiffel Tower]).

To my total surprise, my friend responded:

“Yeah, I’m down. Let’s do it.”

Sunset on the drive from Paris to Brussels by Expat Edna

So two weeks later, we met up at Gare du Nord, picked up a little red Euro rental party car, and drove the three hours from Paris to Brussels.

Delirium pinks by Expat Edna

As soon as we got in, we walked into town and hit up last call at Delirium Café, where there were so many Belgian beers to choose from I felt like a kid in an adult candy shop. I thought I knew about Belgian beers before, but one glance at the menu made me realize I knew nothing.

(There was even cheese made with beer. I didn’t even know you could make cheese with beer! Trappist cheese is a thing!?)

Since I’d never been to Belgium, the next morning was briefly devoted to sightseeing while on our way to beer.

Brussels, Belgium - Expat EdnaOld England building, Brussels by Expat EdnaGardens, Brussels by Expat EdnaFireworks street art, Brussels, Belgium Expat EdnaSpeculoos, Brussels by Expat Edna

There was a break for the (questionably-famous) Mannekin Pis statue, and its waffle-y counterparts.

Mannekin Pis, Brussels by Expat EdnaWaffles, Brussels, Belgium by Expat Edna

Then it was quickly back to more walking around town, with stops for beer and the occasional order of frites (topped with samurai sauce, a super tasty creation better than ketchup and mayonnaise combined).

Brussels street art by Expat EdnaArchitecture, Brussels by Expat EdnaFrites from Fritland, Brussels by Expat EdnaBeer is the Answer, Moeder Lambic, Brussels by Expat EdnaUitgezonderd, Brussels by Expat EdnaStreets of Brussels, Belgium by Expat EdnaChurch, Brussels by Expat EdnaStreet art, Brussels by Expat Edna

Once it got too dark and chilly to be drinking beers on a patio, we moved our operations back to the Delirium Alley, which consists of who knows, maybe eight different bars? that supposedly all have a different theme? but are all still owned by Delirium? It’s complicated. All I know is that they serve beer — beer that is delicious, cheap, and comes in more varieties than I have time in the world to drink them — and that’s good enough for me.

(Plus, added bonus: it’s a great area for people watching.)

Delirium Tremens Alley, Brussels by Expat EdnaDelirium Tremens Cafe Brussels by Expat EdnaDelirium Tremens Cafe, Brussels - Expat EdnaPilarbijter, Carolus, Guillotine by Expat EdnaBiere de Noel and Pilarbijter beer by Expat EdnaDelirium Tremens Cafe, Brussels by Expat Edna

The next day, feeling like we should get more use out of the car, we drove to the nearby town of Ghent.

It’s a pretty enough place — who doesn’t love a northern European canal town — but we didn’t feel the need to stay longer than the afternoon. The lure of all the beer in Brussels was too strong.

Plaza in Ghent, Belgium by Expat EdnaHouses on the canal, Ghent, Belgium by Expat EdnaCafe on the canal, Ghent, Belgium by Expat EdnaKoffie PI Thee, Ghent, Belgium by Expat EdnaBuildings of Ghent by Expat EdnaViola and accordion buskers, Ghent, Belgium by Expat EdnaLooking up, Ghent, Belgium by Expat EdnaGhent, Belgium - Expat EdnaGhent, Belgium by Expat Edna

So back we went, to spend our final evening enjoying the elusive Westvleteren (a beer sold in such limited quantities you have to make reservation to pick it up from the monastery, and orders are limited to a certain quantity per license plate) and cozy company at a small tucked-away local-ish bar off the Grand Place.

Brussels by night - Expat Edna the elusive Westvleteren bar, Brussels by Expat Edna

The following day, before we crossed back into France, we made sure to stock up our little red car with provisions.

The beer aisle at a Belgian grocery store is basically this: shelves as far as the eye can see, stocked full of some of the best beers in the world, most of which run around ONE EURO each. We paid €90 for 55 bottles of Rocheforts, Deliriums, Westmalles, St Feuillens — we brought the whole lot, and then some.

It’s basically heaven.

Beer run in Belgium by Expat Edna Belgian grocery shopping by Expat EdnaLittle Red the Belgian roadtrip car by Expat Edna

Little Red: party car and Belgian beer mule.

IF YOU GO

These are my three favorite places for beer in Brussels (meaning strong selection + chill atmosphere):

Moeder LambicPlace Fontainasplein 8, 1000 Brussels

Beer ManiaWaversesteenweg 174 Chaussée de Wavre, 1050 Ixelles

Delirium CaféImpasse de la Fidélité 4 (Delirium Village), 1000 Brussels

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Comments

  1. Everyone needs a little red Belgian Beer Mule :-)

  2. Belgium is at the top of my list of places I’d like to visit so naturally I loved reading this post! Visiting all of the various beer destinations sounds like it was so much fun and all of your pictures are amazing!

  3. Beautiful photos as always :) I was in Brussels for about 8 hours in June to eat and drink beer. I agree, Moeder Lambic and Delirium are must hits.

  4. You make some good plans :)

  5. So glad you enjoyed Belgium Edna. Ghent was one of my favourite spots.

    You can easily see that is was worth going to war over in 1940!

  6. Gah Belgian beer mule! Mannekin Pis gummies! I knew this trip was epic, so I’m glad to see photos of it!

    Next time you do it though, add a post-afternoon-pub trip to the Magritte Museum :)

  7. I’m not a huge fan of Delirium, but this looks like so much fun! I need to get to a Belgian supermarket asap!

  8. Oh this makes me miss Brussels! You’ve captured it so nicely here. When you live in Belgium for a long time, you almost forget how silly-cheap beer is there. Have you tried Triple Karmeliet? Deadly at 14% but one of the best!

  9. This looks like it was an amazing getaway! Your pictures are gorgeous as always – makes me want a waffle right now! (And you got a Mannekin Pis gummy too?!) It’s funny how Belgium can spoil us for beer. When I was in Prague last month, we went to a wonderful bar that boasted that it had the largest beer menu in the country, at 250 different kinds. Which was great, but after going to places in Belgium with 400+ beers on the menu, 250 is nothing!

  10. This post made me want to fly to Belgium (from New Zealand) just for the beer. :) Wonderful photos you’ve captured!

  11. This makes me realize that we haven’t seen so much during our stay in Brussels, I guess it’s a good excuse to return at some point :)

  12. Ahhhh. I loved Belgium too for all of the beer and foodie reasons. But your lovely photos are reminders that I really need to get back– Delirium Alley looks like my heaven! As well as the grocery store isles…. swoooooon. What did you think of Westvleteren? I sampled it with a bunch of dudes who made fun of me because I didn’t love it. It’s good to try, but I think I’ll stick with my other Belgian favorites.

  13. I love this and hope to do something similar now that I’m living relatively nearby. I checked all the tourist boxes on my first trip to Belgium so next time it will be all about the beer!

    PS – If Jacky’s Beer Nest is still open, it’s a fun place to enjoy Belgian beer in Shanghai.
    http://www.ferretingoutthefun.com/2013/01/27/jackies-beer-nest/

  14. Samurai sauce? Wow. I have no idea what that is but I’m super intrigued now.

    Your pictures are stunning as always. :) Definitely need to take a trip to Belgium for the beer. Last time I was there for only one afternoon to look at some war memorial with the school.

Trackbacks

  1. […] that makes people even take road trips across entire countries to try, just as Edna of ExpatEdna did just a few weeks ago.. […]

  2. […] things like spontaneous roadtrips to Belgium, […]

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