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Brussels's Newest Beer Stars
By Chuck Cook

Given that 2005 is the “Year of Beer” in Brussels and Wallonia (in cooperation with the Walloon and Brussels tourist offices), what a great year it will be to go traveling and see some of the many new, and newly discovered, cafes, restaurants and brewery tasting rooms there!

In Brussels, the Delirium Cafe had a banner year in 2004. Beer lovers from across the globe have begun to find the place and explore its huge beer selection (10 on tap, over 2,000 bottled) along with its 500 genevers. The new cafe was designed by Joel Pecheur, who also created Chez Moeder Lambic and a number of other beer specialty cafes in Brussels. Delirium Cafe has a friendly, “brown café” (old Belgian pub) feel in its cellar area. The walls are covered with old breweriana. There is even one wall of old American beer trays!

The beer menu is phonebook sized, with beers arranged by new offerings, country of origin, style of beer or seasonality. There was a German “bock fest” going on when I visited in early December, with over 20 different brews offered.

Delirium is a great place to sample the hard-to-find beers of small Wallonian breweries like Brasserie Authentique, Mortals, Les Rulles and many more. There are also top-shelf brews like Malheur Brut Reserve and Bosteels DeuS, as well as most of the Trappist beers and, of course, lambics, gueuzes and regional beers. Just about anything you want is available here, including beers from France, Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands and farther afield. Food is limited to bread, cheese, paté and sausage — enough to keep you going until lunch or dinner!

The statue of Janneken Pis (the female Manneken Pis) is on the same street, Impasse de la Fidelite. In the future, Pecheur would like to open a cafe with 50 beers on tap on the same street if another building can be found that would suit that purpose. If this does not work out, the Ixelles area of Brussels may see such a cafe in the future. The Delirium Cafe is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. Monday to Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Sundays.

Restobieres is a beer cuisine restaurant that opened in late 2001 that is just now getting recognition. It is, in fact, a top destination in Brussels. Owner Alain Fayt has created a first-class place with great service and value as well. Beer and food are expertly paired.
I had a four-course meal (35 euros, with prices beginning at 20 euros), starting with a scrumptious paté with fresh orange on the side paired with Ellezelloise Saisis. This was followed by a plate of mussels cooked in a cream sauce, and then venison on a bed of mushroom sauce with raspberries on the side, paired with Westvleteren 8! A handmade chocolate mousse completed the meal. There are over a dozen different meals to choose from.

The atmosphere here is very conducive to cuisine a la bière and conversation. The walls are covered with old beer bottles, beer glasses, coffee grinders, historical photos and breweriana such as old ceramic plates and serving trays.

Regional Belgian beers, Trappist brews, lambics and gueuzes are well represented on the beer menu. There are also other beers that are not on the list, so have a look at the cooler to the right of the bar, where these can be seen and selected.

Restobieres is open Tuesday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to midnight, and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. I highly recommend that you visit.

Chuck Cook is a freelance writer living in Richmond, VA. His passions are beer and travel, and he has written for various beer publications. He traveled to Belgium in December as a guest of the Belgian Tourist Office. He can also be reached via e-mail.


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