A blink-and-you’ll-miss it alleyway in the centre of Bruges is the gateway to an array of amazing beers.
It’s a real hidden gem – its entrance is concealed from view as you walk along Breidelstraat on the way to the Markt (Market Square) and you could easily walk right past it.
If you’re not into beer, you might do just that. But if you’re an enthusiast and you’ve done your research before heading to this vibrant city you’ll know a visit is a must.
I love tripels and was intrigued to read about its famous house beer, the Tripel De Garre, so I had to try it.
I quickly found De Garre on the map, and as I neared the entrance to the alley I resisted the temptation of the aromas from the numerous nearby chocolatiers. I headed down narrow cobblestone path and there it was.
It was a hive of activity, small and traditional, and the tables were jam-packed with a mixture of locals and tourists. We even met a staff member who was in there on his day off because he said there was no better bar in Bruges!
A wooden spiral staircase led upstairs to a balcony level that allowed you to look down to the floor below. A barrel sat at the top of the stairs overflowing with bottletops, making me wish I had one like that in my house.
We ordered the tripels and they arrived on a small wooden tray, atop a paper doyley which I assume is a nod to Bruges’ lace-making history. Beside the beers was a small glass dish of cheese cubes which the barman informed us was Young Belgian.
The beer was served in a rounded chalice with a heavy glass base and packed a punch at 11%. It’s golden and delicious with a malty sweetness and comes from Brouwerij Van Steenberj (which I would later discover makes a lot of beers that I love). The cheese complemented it beautifully and given its strength, it was far too easy to drink!
Apparently you’re limited to three beers in a sitting but there was no chance I was ordering three – I wanted to remember at least some of my trip to Bruges! What’s more the bar had some amazing other beers on tap, not to mention a huge book of a menu with an array of bottles to choose from.
Take it home
The Tripel van de Garre is not a beer you’ll find anywhere else, so it’s worth noting that the bar sells 1.5 litre magnums of it for 21 Euros.
It’s the perfect way to bring a bit of Bruges magic home with you, or makes an impressive gift if you have any mates who love their beer.