Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Around Bruges in 80 Beers
The best travel writing is a book or article that makes you get off your backside and actually visit the place. Last week I took myself off to Bruges for the day. I didn't actually go to Belgium, you understand. Let's say, it was more of a virtual trip.
A quiet day started well by reading from cover to cover a new book : Around Bruges in 80 Beers by Chris "Podge" Pollard and Siobhan McGinn. This is an updated, second edition and covers that famous Belgian city with a full colour page on each bar, restaurant or shop coupled with a beer to drink there. As in the London edition of the same series, all of the favourite bars and beers are covered plus many others that may not be so well known. It gives an excellent flavour to a great city. Do not travel without this essential volume if visiting. You can buy it here where you can also find out more about the beer tours of Belgium that Podge leads.
I enjoyed the book so much that I really wanted more. So I nipped down to Waitrose to buy some mussels, steamed them in some wheat beer and settled down to watch the movie "In Bruges" that I had sky plussed the week before. A crap film but set in a wonderful location bringing back good memories of the beers and bars of the city.
The nearest I could get to a local beer without a special trip to the bottle shop was a Biere de Garde from Lost Abbey - California (being near enough to Belgium for me) and a bottle of Bracia from Thornbridge Brewery.
The Biere de Garde was a traditional farmhouse brew with a lovely malty sweetness and a spicy finish. 7.5% bottle conditioned in a wire corked 75cl bottle - a real mouthful.
The Bracia is a dark bitter 9% beer infused with Italian chestnut honey. It has a rich flavoursome mouth feel with coffee, chocolate and licorice flavours and a warming, alcoholic aftertaste. If you see it, buy it - you won't be disappointed.
Even if you are not planning a trip to Belgium, with a cover price of £7.99, Around Bruges is the cheapest weekend away you will ever have.