We started our day with a little sightseeing in Brussels. We hit the usual spots, including the Atomium, which is a remnant from the 1958 worlds fair. It’s over 100 meters tall. Pretty cool, especially considering that all we have leftover from the worlds fair in New York is some rusty flying saucers in Jamaica Queens. ( There is also a significant remnant from the 1939 New York World’s Fair in Richmond, VA. It is now the Belgian Friendship Building at Virginia Union University, and it is a National Historic Landmark. -ed.)
We also checked out the iconic Mannekin Pis. It’s very small, maybe 20 inches or so, and not much to look at. So I did what any forward thinking beer nerd would do and popped into Mort Subite for a glass of their house blended lambic, whose deliciousness words cannot describe.
Then we went to the Brewers Guild house in The Grand Place, the central square of Brussels surrounded by city hall and guild houses for all the trades. The brewers guild is the richest and their building is adorned with gold. There is a small brewing museum inside and always beer on tap from one of the Belgian Family Brewers.
We then left Brussels and headed to Brouwerij Boelens in small town of Belsele. It is a rustic, family owned brewery. Boelens only has one beer in the states, Bieken, a honey ale. We got to try two of their new offerings, Triple Klok and Dubbel Klok. The triple is fruity, yeasty and dry. It hides its alcohol well and pairs fantastically with some local cheeses. I really like the double, it has the expected dark fruit and yeast character, but with a very dry finish and not a hint of alcohol. A session dubbel? Sign me up. Expect to see them within a few months.
While at Boelens were were served a homemade dinner of salad, frites, a beef and veal stew made with the dubbel, and homemade ice cream. I really enjoyed this brewery, tiny and rustic. Their brew system is 30 hL capacity, but the brewer hinted that they never see that yield for any of their beers. They have a smaller copper and brick brew house that is still working and they use for special brews from time to time. They had a small bottling and labeling line, maybe 15 feet long. Great to see that after the 50,000 square foot monolith we saw at Abita a few weeks ago.