Archive for November 23rd, 2007

I like Brussels

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say I love Brussels. It is not necessarily a city I would like to live and work in. But it is a city I enjoy visiting, and where I still have much to explore.

I like the mussels, I like the chocolate. I like the mix of the European institutions and local everyday life. I like the decent public transport and good service in a city that has lived with a multilingual and multicultural population for decades.

I like the people going about their daily business despite their politicians being unable to form a government. It is true that the contact between the two language groups has probably not been the best over the years, but it is encouraging that so many fly the Belgian flag from their windows and balconies to show that their nation is worth saving.

I like the well functioning Brussels airport, where you still can get old fashioned dishes like gratinated endives in the cafeteria, even if the only beers available after security are produced by the AntichristInBev.

And I enjoy the contrasts. Just a block or two away from the gigantic EU buildings you feel you are in a small village somewhere, with small shops and workshops where people have pride in their craft and their products. And there are small cafes offering a glass of Steendonk Wit, a very refreshing wheat beer tasting of coriander and citrus, before you hurry back to the next session of your meeting.

There are broad boulevards and cobblestoned alleys, there are tourist traps and real bargains. And there is beer and knowledge about how to serve it.

I will have some more details about places to go and places to avoid over the coming days, but there was one thing that I missed, as the opening night is on 7 december. The Delirium Cafe is opening the Delirium Taphouse, with 25 rotating tap beers available. The adress is Getrouwheids gang, a dead end alley right above the Delirium Cafe.

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I seldom praise Carlsberg, but it looks like they will be launching their House of Beer concept in Norway in the near future. This would not impress anyone from countries with a broad range of beers available, but if this means more choice for the Norwegian drinkers, they are very welcome. It seems to me that a strong importer/wholesaler is needed to actually get the beers into the state monopoly shops, too, as the small ones struggle to adjust to such a large player in the market.

The beers they offer in Denmark include hand picked beers from micros like Nørrebro, who are also negotiating with them to be distributed in Norway, as well as interesting beers from Germany, France and the US. Some boring standard beers, too, but they are presumably in it for the money…

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