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Oct 8, 2013 08:43 AM

belgium, champagne & alsace - anything goes

Good morning everyone :)

We are leaving in a couple of weeks going to Belgium (Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent), Champagne and Alsace and I was looking for current recommendations for both simple local places as well as Michelin starred/ relais & chateau ones for both lunch and dinner. The only restriction is that we have a little, well behaved, kid so places that have only 10 course prix fix menus that take 3 hours and require a tie are out of the running.

One other question, is there a recommended beer producer in a nice setting ( an abbey...?) in Belgium that is reachable by train? We will get a car in champagne & Alsace only.

Many many thanks!

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  1. Check out some of my reco's here:

    Trappist breweries reachable by train ... that's a though one. Westmalle is not accessible and you can only sample the beer from the large brasserie across the road. I have fond memories of visiting the Orval abbey ruins as teenager (remember the legal drinking age is 16 in Belgium) but it's not directly accessible by train. It would probably take you almost 2 hours by public transport from Brussels. And perhaps the most famous Trappist beer of all Westvleteren is by appointment only, infamously difficult to get in and only for purchasing a crate of beer.
    One idea might be the Halve Maan Brewery in Bruges (makers of the Brugse Zot) in the historic heart of the city close to the Minnewater (Lover's Lake) and B├ęguinage.

    2 Replies
    1. re: estilker

      Westvleteren does have a large beer hall to sample the beer and eat a few snacks. It's also possible to buy 4 bottles in the gift shop. It is a lively place to sit and relax, especially on a mild day in the outside terrace.

      1. re: Nancy S.

        Great, I was not aware of that. But for the past 7 years I have only been a tourist myself in my birth country.
        Just a quick note on the famous Westvleteren beer and how notoriously hard it is to come by (besides making a trip to the abbey). The Sint Bernadus brewery was licensed by the abbey shortly after the WW II to continue to make this beer. Even the original brewmaster and original yeast strains went to Sint Bernardus. It was only in the 90ies that this licensing deal ended and the monks at Westvleteren started making their own beer again as a source of revenu. (Trappist beer designation is only awarded to beer that is made within monastery walls). But Sint Bernardus continued to make the same beer albeit without the trappist designation but still according to the original recipes with the original yeast strains (Westvleteren uses Westmalle yeast, another trappist beer). Sint Bernardus beers are a lot easier to come by and are sold throughout the country and even at pubs.

    2. Thank you very much for the answers and the link to the previous thread I somehow missed.
      I've read good things about orval as well. If we did rent a car for a day would it be the one to go to or a different one?

      1. You need to start a new thread on the FRANCE board to get recommendations for Champagne & Alsace. Or at least check to see what's already been discussed on that board.