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Boston Bars with Belgian Beers

  • j

Despite the subject line, this is a serious request. A friend is coming to visit and is a big fan of Belgian beers. My local packy has some I can purchase for home, but if we're out, I'd prefer to hit a restaurant or bar with some of her favorites. Sour Flemish reds, anything Trappist (esp. Trappist Rochefort 10, but it's rare). Any of the fruit lambics (framboise, kriek) would be cool to have handy as well (though doesn't need to be at the same joint). I know I have seen a selection somewhere recently, but it escapes me at the moment.... Looking for a place within the confines of Back Bay/South End/Beacon Hill/downtown. I think Jacob Wirth is a place to start, but other recs. appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. I think Brasserie Jo had some Belgian beers available.

    5 Replies
    1. re: 9lives

      Confirmed: Brasserie Jo has several Belgians by the bottle and the proper glassware to serve it in. The house draft lager, Hopla, is Belgian. Nice atmosphere, too, though on the posh side.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        A hoppy pils from Belgium? I remember reading that Hopla was styled after beer from the Alscace region of France.

        1. re: rl

          You may be right about the Hopla, and it would make sense, given the Alsatian tilt of the place. I just remember a barman describing it as Belgian to me when they first opened.

          I like to drink beer, but I'm am something of an ignoramus on the finer points, more of a "spin the Bukowski wheel and see what Fate serves" kind of beer drinker. I like all kinds, though I'm more likely to drink something browner than paler. I have fond memories of cask-conditioned, hand-pulled draft ales in rural UK pubs.

          I am looking forward to trying the revived, slightly reformulated Narragansett in bottles. It has not turned up in any bar or retail outlet that I have noticed.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            I thought I read somewhere (maybe the Dig) that Liquor Land was going to carry 'Gansett.

            However i don't see anything in terms of retail or bar sales in Boston and only a couple in Brighton or Cambridge.

            Link: http://www.narragansettbeer.net/

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              "I have fond memories of cask-conditioned, hand-pulled draft ales in rural UK pubs."

              Then a session or two at NERAX is in order. Get there early to avoid the wait times to get in. See the link below for details. I think it may be the biggest real ale / cask fest in the US now that the Chicago fest has fallen apart. All kinds of English casks are flown over and many New England brewers provide casks for this fest. Since there are different beers on each night (due to the nature of cask conditioning), I end up attending at least 3 sessions each year.

              Link: http://www.nerax.org/

      2. The Publick House, iirc.

        1. The Publick House in Washington Square, Brookline is the place to go. Half a dozen or more Belgian beers on tap, probably forty or more in the bottle (I lost count on their website). Rochefort 10 is on the menu in bottles, and all of the styles that you mentioned above are represented, and you will be served in the proper glassware. Good food, too, a cut above the usual pub grub.

          On weekend nights it can be crazy, the service can be flakey and cool, and it is always seat yourself (no hostess), so don't go in a rush, but for the kind of beer you want it has to be your first choice. It is also T accessible - take the Green Line "C" to Washington Square and you are right there - so you can avoid driving.

          You could also check out the Sunset Grill in Allston, nice selection and much improved quality control and glassware from a few years back. The food isn't as good, and it can be a real zoo sometimes. Worth a visit if you want to hit two beer destinations in town. Also T accessible, Green Line B to Harvard Street, then a short walk.

          Link: http://www.thepublickhousebrookline.com/

          1. As Limster has already written, Publick House is the place to take your friend. I've had a Chimay at Brasserie Jo.

            Here's a great resource for beer near and far.

            Link: http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/city/3/

            1. Bukowski's. Boston, not Inman. And I think Boston Beerworks.....

              1 Reply
              1. Also, if you are looking to purchase any Belgians you can pick up many at either Bauer Wines and Spirits on Newbury(ask for nick) or at charles st liquors. Rochfort 10 is not a rarity , maybe on tap it is, but in the bottle its pretty easy to get. Also, redbones tends to have have a belgian on now and then, I know its outside of downtown but they have one of the best beer "menus", check out there website they tend to keep a good up to date beer menu online as does the Public House.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mike

                  If you do take the suggestion above, and below, and head to Redbones in Davis, do your friend (and yourself) a favor and hit the liquor store right there (Downtown Wine & Spirits) as well; huge selection of international beers, and many Belgians.

                2. I remember trying Trappist at Red Bones in Davis Sqare

                  1. w
                    Wallace & Gromit

                    If I could get a framboise or a kriek I would be VERY HAPPY indeed!!!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Wallace & Gromit

                      Hehe. I think lots of our mouths started watering from this post. I can't wait to get to Publick House and try the Framboise on tap. I know this isn't responsive to the OP, but two more places to get a huge variety of beers are Marty's Liquors on Harvard Ave in Allston, and Downtown Liquors in Davis Square.

                      The only truly rare Trappist these days is Westvleteren. Unfortunately, it's also the best beer in the world, imo. Does anybody know where Westvleteren can be purchased in the Boston area? Here's an interesting article about it:


                      1. re: hlsip

                        Once Beer Advocates discovered the few places in the Boston area that sell Westvleteren it's been hard to find.

                        Blanchard's in West Roxbury might have it. They'd be a good place to start as far as asking about it, anyway. The place on Charles St. (Charles St. Liquors?) might have it.

                        Suprisingly, Vinnin Sq. liquors in Swampscott sells it also, but it's constantly being bought up by those in the know.

                        1. re: hlsip

                          I swear I've seen Westvleteren at the Davis Square liquor store, though not all 3 kinds. I may have also seen it at the Wine & Cheese Cask. It's a lot easier to find now that they put labels on the bottles. :)

                      2. h

                        Publick House Brookline- Kriek, Lambic, Flemish Sour, etc....best beer bar in america....you could also try the Linwood in the Fenway though they focus more on an excellent american selection....go to beeradvocate.com for a full boston beer guide....

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: hotsauceathlete

                          Second best beer bar.

                          The Moan and Dove in Amherst tops it. One of the major importers of Belgian beers is located in Western Mass. (I think it's two brothers), and they can be found at the bar a few times a week. There's where to get an education.

                          1. re: DoubleMan

                            That would be the shelton brothers....we'll call it a draw- the Moan is sweet....

                          2. re: hotsauceathlete

                            Actually for Belgiums Ebezeners in Lovell, Maine has them all beat.

                          3. w
                            Win (Boston)

                            Anchovies (433 Columbus Ave, in the South End) has Chimay on draft.

                            1. I know this is probably too late for your friend's visit, but next time you have to make the trip out to Sunset Bar & Tap in Allston. They have 112 beers on tap year round with even more bottled beers available as well. For Belgians, the selection is amazing. Anyplace where you can get Delerium Tremens is up there in my books. The food is of decent quality too, a bit pricey for the food, but the beer is priced right.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Carp85

                                What would you recommend at Sunset? After a few lackluster meals I decided to resign myself to the fact that they just don't have good food, and if I go, it's just for the beer. I'd appreciate any menu pointers if there's something worth eating.

                                1. re: Chris VR

                                  Well, as with most things, the food is obviously better after a couple of beers, especially if they're around +10% beers. The nachos at sunset have never done me or friends wrong, while the burgers are hit or miss. A close friend of mine swears by their burgers as being "great", but it all depends what toppings you throw on it, I suppose. He's someone that'll try the most random things for toppings, so value that as what you will. As far as entrees, I have never dove that far into their menu. I mean it's a bar first, restaurant second, so I suppose it's safe to assume bar food (appetizers/burgers) are the safest bet at Sunset.

                                  1. re: Carp85

                                    Ah, thanks. I was hoping there was some hidden gem I'd missed on their menu! I'm a beef snob now that I'm in a meat CSA which provides me with lovely N.E. grass fed beef, so I'd never order a burger there, but I'll try the nachos.

                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                      Off topic, but can you give us some info on the meat CSA you're in?

                                      1. re: firewrx612

                                        Oh sure- I feel like I'm always blabbing about it here, wasn't trying to be secretive!

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                                2. re: Carp85

                                  This is my suggestion as well- their beer list is long and impressive! We usually get the quesadillas, which are fine. It's not a terribly authentic dish, but it's certainly reliable.

                                  Sounds silly, but I also appreciate the fact that we've never seen them use Velveeta on anything, so you know anything cheesy is a good, tasty bet!

                                3. Charlie's Kitchen - Eat. Drink. Save Money.
                                  Charlie's has Chimay on tap! Try their lobster roll, big and cheap.
                                  There's even a coupon on this web page. Just outside of Harvard Sq.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cantab

                                    Charlie's also has Lambic...bottled, but still.

                                  2. Fat Cat in Quincy has some good ones. Not "in town" but worth the trip.

                                    1. Publick House - hands down. They have all that Belgian stuff - and Belgian food and a whole extension to their dining room called the "Monk's Cellar" - the place is practically too Belgian.

                                      1. A buddy and I stopped by Vee Vee in Jamaica Plain the other night and were pleasantly surprised by the beer list. I had a McChouffe on draught, friend had Westmalle Dubbel. They had about a half dozen total, including a kriek (Cantillon, I think) and the Foret organic saison. Great apps too.

                                        Definitely Publick House is king in this area, though.

                                        1. Like many other posters here, I think Publick House is the best option for Belgians. After that I would say Deep Ellum in Allston. Some posters find the pours too small, but they tend to have about four unusual Belgian beers on tap, one of them fruit lambic, and many more in the bottle. Recently, they've had a number of Belgian-style American brews on tap. Very interesting. Food is good too.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: jajjguy

                                            Bukowski's off of Boylston street seems to have quite the beer selection. Drank a few hefeweizen's there after dinner tonight.

                                            1. re: Wannabfoode

                                              Course if it is a "hefeweizen" it is German if it is Belgian it would be a Bière blanche.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                No bar I know of comes close to Publick House for Belgian beer. (It would put many bars in Brussels to shame in terms of the variety of draughts available. But then maybe it is about quality and not quantity. Certainly for my tastes PH is superb.)

                                                Deep Ellum is a fine second to PH. So I concur with jajjguy. DE seem to keep their beer well, but know how to charge for it too. And the food in my experience was not worthwhile once you go above the nicely priced and enjoyable bar food like the fries and the hot dogs.

                                                Deep Ellum does have one thing that makes it unique, to my knowledge, in Boston, and that is that you can get good draught Belgian and German beers there _and_ good cocktails.

                                            2. try the public house in brookline has there own room with only belgian beers served right on the c line at washington square