MEANDER THROUGH FLANDERS - DAY SEVEN
A change of location: today we set off for the second city in East Flanders, Aalst, which was a new city for us in Belgium. We arrived in time for lunch and a quick look around, then set off for an afternoon in Gent, which is just 20 minutes away by train.
After a quick walk round the canals in the centre, we found our way to the Trappistenhuis, aka St Tropez. This beauty is a ten minute walk from the centre of town, and is an excellent addition to the beer café scene in Gent. Oozing atmosphere, its layout is very clever, with two rooms, the main one with several different areas and a large fire, the other, smaller room having a wall covered in a display of old bottles. As can be deduced from its name, they are big on Trappists, so I was a bit disappointed to find that they were out of Westvleteren, but I was very happy to settle for an Achel Bruin, which was as good as the blonde had been earlier in the week. They have a good quality list of around 150 beers or so. Next up was a St Bernardus Witbier, which was good, though its not really my favourite style.
Then it was back to Aalst to check out the cafes there. Aalst is a fairly unremarkable city. The usual Grote Markt has a couple of very striking buildings, but on the face of it there's not much else there. However, for the beer fan, there is a pretty good beer café scene in Aalst, and we were very impressed with what we found. Aalst is certainly a very good place to go drinking for a couple of days.
We kicked off with a place called Verdiep. This is an odd place to find a beer list of 67 beers, including Westvleteren. Situated in an old warehouse conversion, it's more of a club/restaurant than a beer café, but the list does have a few decent picks. We had dinner there early evening and a beer, and got out just before it got very noisy. They have a very unusual feature at the back of the building - a waterwall, which is worth the visit in its own right. Its literally a huge wall with water constantly running all the way down it.
After that it was off to a place I had long wanted to visit: Den Babbelaer! Now, where else could a committed babbler want to drink? And I was delighted to find that this place was truly excellent and worthy of the Babbler title. Easily the best cafe in town, at least of those we visited, this is a great little café with lots of Burgundian influence. Decent beer list of around 50 or so beers, this is a great place to spend the evening. I had a Pater Lieven Kerstbier and an Oud Beersel Kriek, which indicates the choices available. I would recommend this place to all babblers. Great place for a babblefest sometime, perhaps?
Photos: Brugge, Gent, Aalst and De Haan
Photos: De Gans, 't Kroegske and Heeren van Liedekercke
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