Intrepid Optimist

Intrepid Optimist is the place where I can share my stories; fact, fiction and thoughts from the past and present. It’s Written by myself for people who believe adventure knows no age

Brussels: It’s not just the Manneken Pis


I am of the opinion, as far as a good lunch or dinner goes,  the food to be had in the restaurants of Brussels to be more than equal to those in Paris. I am sure there will be those who will differ with me on this statement if I mention Brussel Sprouts but I will wager any amount of coasters they will not find a finer place than Brussels for speciality beers

I do recommend Brussels because the Belgians  do take their beer drinking seriously. In their small kingdom there are more than 450 different varieties of beer; although I sometimes ask myself if there would have been the need for so many brews if they had been fortunate enough to have discovered just one good otart. Be that as it may, they do have some delectable beers.

Since the Middle ages Belgium has enjoyed a well-earned reputation for its specialty beers, their variety, character and genuine flavour.  The best place to sample but  just a few of these is in the traditional beer bars and cafes of their enchanting capitol. I consider myself fortunate that over the years I have been able to visit many of these establishments and am still alive to pass a few addresses on to you. All of the following are centrally located. No busses or taxis required. Depending on your capacity for strong brews, on your two feet or perhaps, on your hands and knees.

Le Becasse, Rue Tabora 11, 1000 Brussels

If you are going to do a tour – a polite word for a pub crawl- then Le Bacasse is a good place to start. It is just around the corner from the Stock Exchange, in a narrow alley set back from Rue Tabora. It is a serious watering hole with old wooden tables, chairs and tiled floors. The house beer is the Lambic, which is as interesting a brew as I have ever tasted being made in an ancient style of brewing, which apparently depends on spontaneous fermentation to produce a bone-dry, profoundly tart, and naturally effervescent drink that improves with years in the bottle – much like wine.

Image de Notre Dame, Rue Marche aux Herbes 6, 1000 Brussels

Just across the street from Le Bacasse is this charming old world bar, which despite having only a small standing space at the bar, is one of my favourites. Although my lack of French and the locals lack of English makes conversation at times stilted and at other times hilarious, I have always been made to feel at home here.

Au Bonn Vieux Temps, Rue de Marche aux Herbes 12, Brussels

Down a small and grimy alley but conveniently placed a couple of doors away from Nr.6 is another of those no-frills establishments. You come here to drink – and smoke. Here you can also try their beer of the same name.

La Mort Subite, Montagne Aux Herbes Potageres, 1000 Brussels

One place you should not miss on your tour. Opened in 1910, the name Mort Subite is derived from an old dice game that became so popular that they changed the name of the cafe but there is also a Mort Subite (Sudden Death) beer. The decor appears to have remained Brussels turn-of-the-century. I have even been known to drink both cherry and peach beer in this establishment and have to admit they were quite ‘peachy’.

La Fleur a papier dore, Rue de Alexiens 53, 1000 Brussels

Opened back in 1846 but its claim to fame came in the 1920’s when the cafe was the meeting place for the Belgian Surrealists and the quiet, artistic/student atmosphere still prevails. Good spot for a bit of discrete courting and drinking.

La Porte noire, Rue des Alexiens 65, 1000 Brussels

Small, cellar bar, dating from the Middle Ages, with a great atmosphere. Frequent live music to accompany the reasonably priced beers. A great place to finish you tour.

There are also many more traditional cafes where you can sample the speciality, Belgian beers in a more sedate atmosphere; my particular favourite being Le Cirio.

Le Cirio, Rue de la Bourse, 1000 Brussels

Here you can relax and absorb the history of an authentic Belgian café. It is the only place where I will occasionally change my tipple from beer, to a glass, literally filled to the brim with the house speciality, a ‘half & half’- white wine and champagne. The cafe, opened in 1886, has maintained its original Belgian decor.

The Cafe of the Hotel Metropole, Place de Brouckere, 1000 Brussels.

A splendidly opulent cafe created in Empire style. A gorgeous place just to sit and sit and sit. You feel as though you are back in the 1890s, which was when the hotel was originally built. Despite the elegant ‘afternoon tea’ impression, the drinks card offers a selection of at least 20 Belgian beers.

The Fastaff, Rue Henri Maus, 1000 Brussels

This Art Deco establishment offers 24 different sorts of beer in the congenial atmosphere of a classical Brussels cafe/bistro. I find the interior so attractive that, even in the summer, I prefer to sit inside rather than joining the crowd watchers, seated on the outside terrace.

So, do not miss out. Brussels is not just about Hiëronymus Duquesnoy’s statue of  the Manneken Pis or the EU, it is also about great beer.

.BRT, 29.07.2017

About bbryanthomas

Not so young man about town who, having witnessed and enjoyed life, is presently having fun, writing about those by-gone times and life in general.

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This entry was posted on July 29, 2017 by in Drink, Gourmet, Stories and tagged , , .
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