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Boston Bars with Belgian Beers

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Jojo Feb 27, 2006 07:01 PM

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. 9
    9lives RE: Jojo Feb 27, 2006 07:06 PM

    I think Brasserie Jo had some Belgian beers available.

    5 Replies
    1. re: 9lives
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      MC Slim JB RE: 9lives Feb 28, 2006 07:26 AM

      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
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        rl RE: MC Slim JB Mar 1, 2006 01:09 PM

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

        1. re: rl
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          MC Slim JB RE: rl Mar 2, 2006 10:43 AM

          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
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            icculus RE: MC Slim JB Mar 2, 2006 11:07 AM

            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
              r
              rl RE: MC Slim JB Mar 2, 2006 03:13 PM

              "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. l
        Limster RE: Jojo Feb 27, 2006 07:07 PM

        The Publick House, iirc.

        1. c
          charlieg RE: Jojo Feb 27, 2006 07:31 PM

          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. a
            a l i c e RE: Jojo Feb 27, 2006 07:35 PM

            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. e
              eLizard RE: Jojo Feb 27, 2006 07:42 PM

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: eLizard
                TomH RE: eLizard Apr 17, 2008 08:12 AM

                Second Bukowski's.

              2. m
                mike RE: Jojo Feb 28, 2006 07:27 AM

                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
                  franksnbeans RE: mike Apr 17, 2008 12:15 PM

                  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. s
                  Snowflake RE: Jojo Feb 28, 2006 07:43 AM

                  I remember trying Trappist at Red Bones in Davis Sqare

                  1. w
                    Wallace & Gromit RE: Jojo Feb 28, 2006 07:45 AM

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

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Wallace & Gromit
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                      hlsip RE: Wallace & Gromit Feb 28, 2006 09:06 AM

                      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:

                      http://www.usatoday.com/money/industr...

                      1. re: hlsip
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                        DoubleMan RE: hlsip Feb 28, 2006 09:19 AM

                        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
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                          wheatless RE: hlsip Feb 28, 2006 12:53 PM

                          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
                        hotsauceathlete RE: Jojo Feb 28, 2006 08:58 AM

                        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
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                          DoubleMan RE: hotsauceathlete Feb 28, 2006 09:24 AM

                          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
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                            hotsauceathlete RE: DoubleMan Feb 28, 2006 10:33 AM

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

                          2. re: hotsauceathlete
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                            phatchris RE: hotsauceathlete Apr 17, 2008 09:54 AM

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

                          3. w
                            Win (Boston) RE: Jojo Mar 3, 2006 07:17 PM

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

                            1. c
                              Carp85 RE: Jojo Apr 17, 2008 07:26 AM

                              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
                                Chris VR RE: Carp85 Apr 17, 2008 07:41 AM

                                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
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                                  Carp85 RE: Chris VR Apr 17, 2008 08:02 AM

                                  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
                                    Chris VR RE: Carp85 Apr 17, 2008 06:47 PM

                                    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
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                                      firewrx612 RE: Chris VR Apr 19, 2008 02:16 PM

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

                                      1. re: firewrx612
                                        Chris VR RE: firewrx612 Apr 19, 2008 06:40 PM

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

                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/412742 for my opinions, Place link below for more info. They sent a newletter out with our delivery this week saying they are going to all-home delivery, starting in July, servicing Woburn, Winchester, Medford, Somerville, Cambridge, Lexington, Arlington, Melrose, Andover, Reading, Wakefield, Stoneham and Malden.

                                        -----
                                        Houde Family Farm
                                        St. Johnsbury, VT 05819, St Johnsbury, VT 05819

                                        1. re: Chris VR
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                                          firewrx612 RE: Chris VR Apr 20, 2008 07:01 AM

                                          Looks good. Thank you.

                                2. re: Carp85
                                  sfumato RE: Carp85 Apr 17, 2008 08:16 AM

                                  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. c
                                  cantab RE: Jojo Apr 17, 2008 07:47 AM

                                  Charlie's Kitchen - Eat. Drink. Save Money.
                                  http://www.restaurant.com/microsite.a...
                                  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
                                    r
                                    rglo820 RE: cantab Apr 17, 2008 08:02 AM

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

                                  2. C. Hamster RE: Jojo Apr 17, 2008 08:32 AM

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

                                    1. j
                                      jogo7375 RE: Jojo Apr 17, 2008 08:41 AM

                                      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.

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                                        purple bot RE: Jojo Apr 17, 2008 09:28 AM

                                        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. j
                                          jajjguy RE: Jojo Apr 17, 2008 08:20 PM

                                          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
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                                            Wannabfoode RE: jajjguy Apr 17, 2008 08:24 PM

                                            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
                                              StriperGuy RE: Wannabfoode Apr 18, 2008 06:16 AM

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

                                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                                chickendhansak RE: StriperGuy Apr 18, 2008 09:40 AM

                                                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.

                                                1. re: StriperGuy
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                                                  Wannabfoode RE: StriperGuy Apr 19, 2008 02:05 PM

                                                  i stand corrected

                                            2. b
                                              bostonredd RE: Jojo Apr 19, 2008 11:55 AM

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

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