Posted by: Brett | September 8, 2009


What a way to enter the country and a two-month trip to Europe.  After arriving in Brussels at 10 a.m. Friday the 4th, local time, we crashed in the hotel room until around 4pm then went in search of tasty deliciousness. I think we walked by the Grand Place (a huge central square described as the only ‘must see’ place in Brussels) and saw that the beer fest was slammed packed. We decided to continue on to one of the better rated beer bars roughly 10-15 minutes walk from the Grand Place named Bier Circus.  You’ll see it highly recommended in most of the guide books that have a beer section (130 beers and one of the best lists in Belgium according to Good Beer Guide Belgium).  What I didn’t recognize at the time is that most of the ‘good’ beer spots have a ‘tourist beer menu’ that is NOT a complete menu but only lists and describes 5-15 of their most common beers. So Pro-Tip #1 is know what beers you want to sample BEFORE you show up so you’re not overwhelmed when you do get a hold of a massive beer list.  Pro-Tip #2 is to ask for a complete beer list if you are presented with a poorly translated description of 10 beers that are readily available in the US in the belgian beer section at the Whole Foods. 

The staff at Bier Circus was friendly and chatty as it was slow for them since we arrived just before they opened at 6 p.m. (no resv were reqd).  As for the food there, I had had some steak tartar in Paris that was pretty tasty, so K suggested I try it here.  That didn’t work out too well the following morning and when we got to Brugges, I found a copy of a Lonely Planet guide to Belgium that (jokingly, I hope) said to stay away from the “Filet Americain” as it “Has been blamed for giving people worms…”  So that should be fun.  Anyways, after dinner we went back to the room, K went to bed and I went to go check out an “English Pub” on the corner where I got RAHIPPED then went back and went to bed.  Woke up in the morning with the standard hangover which I expected but also had a queasy stomach which is not a usual part of my hangover experience.  I made it to the bathroom and had the honor of putting up the first ralph for the trip. BRETT RULEZ!! 

Anyways, back to the beer fest. As you will be able to see from the pics, they basically set up a bunch of cattle pens  in a ring in the center of the Grand Place and approx.  20-30 of the largest brewers in Belgium to include the dark and much hated AB-InBev (they’re like the Microsoft or Wal-Mart of the brewing world, their beer is schlock but they are rich and powerful as hell.  You’ll get an idea of how rich and powerful they are in the upcoming Brugge post where I show you a picture of the physical equivalent of the Death Star of beer/brewing). Pro-Tip #3 is if you go Saturday, prepare to get up close and personal with 2,000 of your newest friends who are all drunk as hell. But then you just get drunk and then you become BFFs (see post below). Around the outside perimeter of the festival they have “token booths” where you stand in line to buy beer caps that act as tokens for the beers inside the gates.  While we were in line, it was suggested to us that we buy 30 for the two of us (1 cap = 1 euro ) cause having to fight your way back out to stand in line again to get more beer caps sucks when you are drunk outta your mind like the Kiwi who was talking to us.  Once we fought our way in, it was more about finding the shortest line, nearest an area where there was room to stand, but still had non-sucky beer.  The beers cost from 2-5 “caps” and were served in the specific brewer’s signature glasses.  These glassess would pile up on the too few round-top tables (likely fewer than 20 tables for 2000+ people, you do the math, open-toed shoes are a bad idea) which were bussed by extremely patient young workers. That night, we made some French friends who took us to Delirium where we continued to drink and meet more people. Good times. We stopped by the next day and it was much less crowded. So if you want to avoid the crazy crowds, go Sunday. 

All in all I guess I would recommend that the Belgian Beer Weekend is good to stop by if you’re in the area or Europe, but shouldn’t really be a destination unless all you’re after is the ‘cattle pen’ feeling of a nightclub in an outdoor setting.  There are much better beer lists to be had at any one of Brussels’ beer bars (like Delirium, which is kinna a must see.  It’s in the Guiness book of world records apparently, probably for having more than 2000 stocked in it’s cellar bar, 40 of which are on tap)  Still, this place is beer heaven.  Time to go find more tasty deliciousness.  TTFNBs.


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