I've just spent a great three days in Gent, East Flanders, and thought that other babblers may be interested to hear some of the details. For ease of reference, I intend to divide this summary into sections on beers, bars, restaurants and hotel, so here goes, starting with the most important part, the beers. The other sections will follow in part two.

I was pleased to get through 25 beers during the weekend. Gent has a good selection of bars, but unfortunately none have the depth of beer list that you see in t'Brugs Beertje, the Kulminator, or the Bier Circus. Nevertheless, there are a couple of beer lists in Gent that extend to over 100 beers, and with careful selection its possible to find many new and interesting brews, and a couple of bars have great selections of lambic based beers. I also fitted in a lunchtime session in the Bier Circus on the way back through Brussels, which also boosted my new beers total by an additional four.

The beers I had which I had not had before were as follows. It is worth noting that I was only converted to lambics in a big way, and particularly to Krieks and Frambozens, at the big Babble fest in Brussels in April. This was entirely due to the amazing Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek that I shared with Glenn on Dominic's (the barman) recommendation. Hence much of my new beer sampling between then and now has been centred on catching up in this area. I was also inspired by the May babble fest in Antwerp, and in particular the astonishing Goudenband 1987 which Steve pulled out at the start of the night, and since then have also started to work my way through sour brown beers, which is also reflected in this list:

  • Boon Kriek Mariage Parfait (so good I had two of them)
  • Drie Fonteinen Framboos
  • Drie Fonteinen Geuze
  • Girardin Kriek
  • Saison de Pipaix
  • Vlaamse Bourgogne
  • Vichtenaar
  • Echte Kriek (Verhaege)
  • Amboirix Dubbel
  • Pater Lieven Blonde
  • Dikkenek
  • Cantillon Iris
  • Gouyasse (Br des Geants)
  • Grottenbier
  • Cantillon Framboise 'Lou Pepe'.
The undoubted star of this show was the Cantillon Framboise Lou Pepe. This is Cantillon's supercharged version of the regular Framboise, using only 2 year old lambic and 300 grammes of fruit per 1 litre of beer. I'm not sure exactly how the fruit content compares with the regular Framboise, but I can without reservation recommend all the Lou Pepe badged Cantillons to every babbler - they are wonderful!! Interestingly, I bought two bottles to take away, and as well as having the Lou Pepe mark on them, one has the name 'Hess' written on it, and the other the name 'Gale', and both bottles will be returning to Belgium in November!

The other lambics on this list were all wonderful, with the Book Kriek Mariage Parfait out in front, followed by the Drie Fonteinens. The Girardin was also good, but did not taste as authentic as the others: it just tasted more 'manufactured'. Cantillon Iris is superb, close to the straight Gueuze, but with just the slightest hint of fruit, and again highly recommended.

The brown ales were all good, with the Vichtenaar and Dikkenek excellent. Thanks to Joelle for recommending Vichtenaar. My favourite dark ale of the weekend, however, was the Ambiorix, from the Slaghmuylder Brouwerij, the same people who do the Witkap range. This was well balanced, smooth and very tasty, consistent through the whole beer, and a real treat. I have never seen this beer before, but would urge other babblers to look out for it and try it when available.

Saison de Pipaix, from Vapeur, was a disappointment - it tasted like a very inferior version of several Fantome beers, and the taste was not that enjoyable. Of the others, I enjoyed Pater Lieven Blonde, which was very straightforward and easy to drink, and was also quite intrigued by the beer from the new Geants Brewery, Gouyasse. This is a very smooth, regular blonde ale of 6% ABV, and I'll definitely try more from this new outfit at the 24 hours in Antwerp.

The other beers I had were all repeats, and all were therefore proven winners:

  • Ename Tripel
  • Bink Bloesom
  • Cantillon Kriek (there's a story behind this one - to be revealed at the pre 24 hour babble fest!)
  • Floreffe la Meilleure
  • Cantillon Gueuze
  • Gentse Tripel
  • Gulden Draak
  • Brugse Tripel
  • Mighty
Sometimes its great to revisit an old favourite, and many of these were superbly enjoyable, particularly the Gentse Tripel, the Gulden Draak, the Cantillons, and the Mighty. This one was my very last beer of the weekend, which I had in the less than Burgundian surroundings of the Eurostar terminal in Midi station while waiting for our train home. It reminded me how brilliant this beer is, and was a fitting way to round off a great weekend of drinking!

Click here for Part 2


Around Bruges in 80 Beers: 2nd Edition

Around London in 80 Beers

Around Brussels in 80 Beers

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