The Cantillon brewery stands in one of the less salubrious parts of the city of Brussels. I approached it from the city centre along run-down streets and through a pretty ethnically diverse part of the city. It sits opposite a disused lot where I guess once stood warehouses or apartments but now is home to weeds, rubbish and the odd four-legged creature. In one way it's not the most obvious site for a brewery but I guess the area has changed a lot since it was established 100 years ago.
When you enter through the huge doors the first thing that hits you is an agreeable earthy, musty smell with a hint of stale beer. 100 years of beer seem to have soaked and permeated into every crack and crevice of the place. It's not a bad smell by any means and immediately pulls you further in to find out more.
|"They got bars in New York that never close
And bars where the people take off their clothes
And bars where the young folks dance all night
And bars where a fella can pick a fight
If you want to you can spend the night, behind bars"
- Talkin' Big Apple '75 - Loudon Wainwright III
If none of that takes your fancy, or even if it does, you can also spend the night in a bar that has 66 taps and over 130 bottled beers.
I report on my recent trip with TheBeerNut to Leuven for the (main) purpose of acting as Beoir delegates at the 47th EBCU (European Beer Consumers Union) meeting. I was unable to fly to Brussels until the evening of Thursday so by the time I arrived at the first venue of the weekend (M-Café) the delegates had assembled and were at an advanced stage of sampling the beers on offer. It is a wake-up call when you get to a country like Belgium and find a museum café that has 80 different beers on offer!
The following morning we assembled at 8.30 to walk to the Stella Artois brewery for the EBCU meeting.
I didn't intend writing an article, so this is not a well researched piece, but as I'm just back from sunny Palm Springs I though I'd share what limited beering I did there while fighting sleep yesterday afternoon. All in all I expected Palm Springs to be a bit of a beer desert based on a previous trip there, but there are a few gems to get good beer in. A list is provided that combines places of note I went to this time and last year.
My plane touched down in Heathrow bumpily at 11.20 in the morning as another disgruntled Aer Lingus pilot took out his frustrations on the tarmac. My mission for the day was to drink a pint in each of London's seven brewpubs, and with the first opening its doors at noon I set off at speed through the tin tunnels of the airport.
Despite its size, London is rather poorly served for breweries. Of course there's the legendary Fuller's, and craft operations like Meantime in Greenwich, but nothing like what one would expect from Europe's largest city and the capital of such a beery nation. My targets for the day are mostly part of a growing movement to buck this trend and bring highly localised beer back to the people of the city. With this in mind I reached the Tube and struck eastward towards London itself.