When you visit Bruges, you probably already have a list of places to see. You might decide to visit the Belfry of Bruges. Or attend the Cactus festival in the summer. Those are all great activities to explore, and I recommend them. After exploring the city for a few hours, you’re going to be thirsty. That’s when I recommend sitting down to enjoy a Belgian beer.
Why Are Belgian Beers So Famous?
Unlike other countries, Belgian beer makers have experienced masters at their craft. In the 11th century, monks at the Abbey of Affligem introduced the growing of hops, a critical beer ingredient, to Flanders. By the 1300s, Belgian beers started to diversify into different types: some were required to use hops by decree of the Holy Roman Empire. Other brewers used a combination of ingredients to deliver a different kind of beer.
Trappist Monasteries: The Secret To Belgium’s Beer Success
Unlike other countries, Belgium is home to the greatest concentration of Trappist beer makers. Established in 1664, the Trappists (officially known as “Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance”) produce artisanal goods to fund their operations -,, especially beer. Why make beer? It comes down to tradition and geography. Some monasteries in southern Europe started to make wine. However, the Belgian climate is not well suited to grape production so the decision was made to focus on beer.
Six of the world’s Trappist beer making abbeys are located in Belgium. These include Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren. If I had to pick a favorite, St. Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren is where I would send you. In the 2000s, their beer won international recognition by RateBeer.com as one of the best beers in the world. It’s about a one hour drive from Bruges so you can make a day trip there or simply have the beer right here in Bruges at Le Trappiste Brugge. Unlike globally available beers, Belgian Trappist beers are unique and made in smaller batches so you’ll have a unique experience when you enjoy one here.
So, when you come to Bruges, where should you go to get started?
Our Number One Recommendation For Beer In Bruges
There are many places you could visit in Bruges for a beer. Many tourists head to the Beer Museum. It’s not my favorite place to send guests because it is a bit of an artificial experience. If you want to experience beer like a Belgian, you need to visit Café Cambrinus.
With hundreds of positive online reviews, Café Cambrinus (Philipstockstraat 7, Bruges 8000, Belgium ), the café is a top destination with plenty of options available for the beer enthusiast. I recommend asking for a beer flight so you can taste a few different beer varieties at once. Alternatively, there are about 20 beers on tap so you can have more of a favorite.
Along with your drinks, there are some light foods available as well. I suggest asking for the meal and cheese board. After you’re done, the historic market square is a few minutes away, so you can keep exploring.
The oldest pub in Bruges: Cafe Vlissinghe
Probably my favorite pub in Bruges. Wonderfully traditional and also boasts the title of the oldest pub (500 years) in Bruges, cheaper beers than many of the other bars, a boules court and a plentiful beer menu make this the place to be if the sun is out and you want to get away from the crowds.
Where Will You Stay While You Discover Belgian Beers?
Finding a place to stay in Bruges seems like it should be easy. Visit TripAdvisor or Expedia and pick the option with the best rating? There’s just one problem with that approach. You’re going to head up in crowded hotels, especially in the summer. You feel disconnected from Belgian culture, as well. For a better local experience, look for a Bruges guest house. To spark your imagination, check out Loft Katelijne. With space with four people, WiFi, and a kitchen, it’s an excellent choice for a mini-break in Bruges.