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1991 Flanders

Travellers

Paul and Trev

Objective

Visit the ‘Longest Day’ Beer Festival at the Grouwesteen tavern in St. Pauwels.

Keywords

Taverne Grouwesteen, St. Pauwels, St. Niklaas, Hotel Des Flandres, Langast Dag festival, Brugs Beertje, Sluis, Hotel Burlington.

Comments

An advert in What’s Brewing for the ‘Longest Day’ Beer Festival at the Grouwesteen tavern in St. Pauwels caught our eye and two of us decided on a quick visit.

Friday

Train and ferry deposited us at the railway station in St. Niklaas in late afternoon and we booked into the Hotel Des Flandres (Stationsplein 5) opposite. As previously arranged with the owner, we telephoned the Grouwesteen and fixed up a lift to the tavern. Someone would pick us up from the bar/café around the corner from the hotel.

Taverne Grouwesteen: (Grouwesteenstraat 11, St. Pauwels). The ‘Grey Stone’ tavern was a converted farmhouse on the edge of the town. A normal stock of some 120 different beers, including 5 or 6 on draught, was augmented with some additional rarities for the Langast Dag festival.

We were made very welcome by Jean and his wife Liliane and were treated to a tour of the cellar and a gift of two of their few remaining special Christmas beers. Although quite a number of Dutch visitors had made the short journey across the border for the festival we were the only English attendees and were treated as minor celebrities for the evening, especially when we showed our skill (!) in the pub games competition. After a few 8% beers, throwing the metal disc down the frog’s throat is a piece of piss.

As Belgium beer novices we drew from everyone we spoke to an insistence on trying out their favourite tipple and had great difficulty in buying a round ourselves. We tried all the usual stuff, Chimay, Orval and Rodenbach, to name a few. But the one that sticks in the mind was Judas 8.5% ale from Union. It was truly awful. Still the glass it came in was very nice (a large brandy snifter) and once admired, became another gift.

In the early hours of the new day, Jean decided we had had enough and arranged for one of our new drinking companions to give us a lift back to the hotel. That was an adventure in itself.

Saturday

After a regurgitated breakfast we took the train back to Bruges and on the way up from the station found some accommodation in a small guesthouse.

Venturing into town we soon found Brugs Beertje: (Kemelstraat 5). The ‘Little Bruges Bear’ was one of the classic beer cafés of Belgium and had a beer list of over 200. With the popularity of Bruges as a tourist centre, the café can become packed but is not to be missed.

After the exertions of the previous day a quite evening was called for and none of the other half dozen recommended cafés were visited.

Sunday

After a detour to Sluis for a quick visit, it was onto Ostende for our final night in Belgium. Horror! The Stella Maris Hotel had gone. There was just a gaping hole where the hotel had been. Still, just a few yards further down the road was the Hotel Burlington: (Kapellstraat 90), a more modern but rather soulless establishment. It did for one night.

Having recovered our enthusiasm, the bars and discos of our youth were revisited before returning home the next day.

Created on 01/21/2006 02:18 PM by drinking
Updated on 01/21/2006 02:26 PM by drinking
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