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2004 Marbehan

Travellers

Paul V, Ray, Mick, Tel, Kev, John, Ron and Paul C.

Objective

Visit Brassigaume beer festival in Marbehan.

Keywords

Marbehan Brassigaume, Luxembourg, Hotel Bristol, Liquid, Brasserie Artisanale de Redange , Okulte No. 1,2,3, Stout and Meebock, Brasserie Salaisones, Brasserie Artisanale de Rulles Beim Zeutzius, Mousel Gezwickelt (unfiltered), Au Laboureur, Loplop, L’Imaige de Nostre Dame, Affligen Blonde, Delirium Café, A la Mort Subite, Geuze sur Lie, Tonne, Kwak, Poechenellekelder.

Comments

Looking through the list of 2004 Belgium beer festivals we came across the Marbehan Brassigaume. The festival website was very informative and the 2003 beer list enticing. With our destination decided we only had to find somewhere to stay. Enquiries found Marbehan to be a small village with no hotels and few places to try in the evening. The saving grace was that Marbehan lies on the main railway line between Brussels and Luxembourg with inter-city trains actually Bofferding to stop. Although recent articles in London Drinker indicate Luxembourg City as a real beer desert, there are numerous reasonably priced hotels and good transport links. A last night stopover in Brussels would avoid a rush to get home on the final day. So that was it, - Luxembourg, Marbehan and Brussels.

Thursday

The Eurostar arrived on time but our timetable limited us to a swift Grimbergan in the station bar before our onward inter-city to Luxembourg. 17.30 found us booking into the Hotel Bristol (Rue de Strasbourg, 11), a short distance from the station. After a rest we ventured into the city to find out exactly how bad the beer situation was.

Luxembourg is a very pretty city dominated by an extensive and deep gorge, which cuts it in half.

We tried to avoid the two main beers available, both of which are rather gassy- Bofferding, the ‘local’ brew from Bascharage and Mousel, now owned by Interbrew who have ceased production of beer at the city’s Clausen site.

Our first port of call The Tube (Rue de la Loge) provided loud music, Celis White and a very helpful barman who suggested a few bars including a Brasserie, which reportedly sold unfiltered Mousel. We headed down the hill to Clausen and the Brasserie Mousel’s Cantine (Montee de Clausen, 46). Unfortunately the cantine, located next to the old brewery, no longer sold the unfiltered beer and we moved on. Ecosse (Rue Emile Mousel), the Scots bar offered large screen football and the dearest Hoegarten around. Pygmalion (Rue de la Tour Jacob) proved to be an Irish pub, providing a very uninspiring Diekirch.

Not wishing to walk back up the hill we aimed towards Grund and came across

Liquid (Rue de Treves). The bar was busy with an English-speaking crowd, many dressed in black. It turned out they were celebrating the launch of an anthology of stories by English writers from ‘A Small Country’. Oh, and the women in black were the choir who performed at the launch. A friendly and lively bar, we stayed and enjoyed the Leffe Blonde, Leffe Brune, and Hoegarten on draught.

The bar was also handily placed for the lift back to the upper city and our hotel.

Friday

Aiming to break our beerfast in Redange around mid-day, we arranged to meet at the main train/bus station at 10.30. This left time for individual pursuits: Ray sorted out the bus/train tickets needed, Paul V discussed the complexities of Luxembourg pronunciation with bus drivers, some went sightseeing and Tel, Paul C and Kev decided to get stuck in the hotel lift. Each to their own.

The hourly 265-bus service from Luxembourg-Gare to Redange left at 11.05 and arrived at 11.59. A short walk down the hill brought us to our first beer stop of the day Brasserie Artisanale de Redange (Grand Rue 61). The brewery tap was closed and not due to open until 17.30. Things were not looking good for the tour leader. However, knocking up the bar manager and pleading we had come all the way from England to try their beers worked wonders and Abbas opened the bar especially for us.

The brewery and bar occupy the site of a custom-built tower brewery, not used for beer production for many years until revived in the 1990’s.

We tried their complete range. Okulte No.1 Blanche (5.4%), Okulte No.2 Rousse (5.4%), Okulte No.3 Blonde (5.4%) and Okulte Quaffit Stout (6.2%) on draught and to finish, a bottled Okulte Meebock (7.2%).

After thanking Abbas for his hospitality and collecting our souvenir bar mats, posters and glasses we caught the 13.50 bus back to Luxembourg. A short stopover, taking in some tasty station morsels, invigorated us for the 15.27 train to Bascharage.

The tickets purchased that morning were valid for 24 hours on any bus or train in Luxembourg but the guard immediately had a problem with them. Unfortunately we were unable to understand him or his problem until a fellow passenger informed us that the tickets were out of date! It turned out that the earlier bus had cancelled the ticket as 30 September and not the actual date of 1 October. After we showed the guard the inch thick dossier describing our itinerary in every detail, he accepted the error could have been on the bus and let us travel on without penalty.

The walk from Bascharage station to our next beer stop turned out to be some 4 kilometres but we eventually arrived at Brasserie Salaisones Hotel Beierhaascht (Route de Luxembourg 240). Impressively, two large coppers dominated the bar area of this modern brewpub having a hotel, restaurant and shop attached.

We worked our way through the beer menu- Blonde (5.1%), Brune (6.3), Ambree (5.2%) and Blanche (5.2) available in pitchers. The beers were enjoyable, particularly the Blanche (described as exquisite rich fart inducement) as was the excellent fantasy provoking service of Simone, the owners’ daughter.

Not wishing to undertake the walk back to the station or risk further ticket inspection on the train, we caught the bus back to Luxembourg from just outside the Brasserie. The bus driver found our tour leader’s comments on the local transport infrastructure and driving customs invaluable.

After changing we ate at the Bella Napoli, located opposite the hotel. A wander around the city centre found us aiming for the lift down to Grund and bar Liquid for a few beers to finish the day.

Saturday

With the beer festival not starting until 14.00, the morning was free for sightseeing. Although the group all went their own ways, it is rather surprising, in such a large place, how often you keep seeing people you know. A particular favourite of the group was meeting each other coming in or out of the lift to Grund.

We caught the 13.24 to Marbehan, arriving just before 14.00 for the quarter hour walk to the large marquee on the sports ground and the festival.

A token (E1.20 each) system operated for the purchase of 15 centilitre’s of beer in the commemorative glass (E3.00). Having negotiated the purchase of the wooden washers and glass we grabbed a table and ventured round the 16 brewery stalls.

Gaume is a non-political area, which covers south eastern Belgium and parts of France, Luxembourg and even Germany. It might be expected that the beers on offer would come from this region and, although this was mainly the case, it is stretching the boundaries a bit to include Yorkshire with both Tiger Tops and Brown Cow breweries making an appearance.

A full list of the beers tried is attached but the group’s favourite emerged as Brasserie Artisanale de Rulles, which came from 5 kilometres down the road. Indeed their brewer was largely responsible for instigating the beer festival.

Interestingly, the brewery logo was a wizened little gnome, a dead ringer for Kev.

And solicited by Kev local radio interviewed Paul V who astounded the listeners with his complete lack of French and a little understanding of Belgium beers. However, those English present, and apart from us there were a number, understood the comments well enough and some came round to have a chat.

Just as we were leaving one of our new-found acquaintances offered us the promised land. To be found in a bar on the outskirts of Luxembourg our destination for the evening was decided.

Back in Luxembourg by 19.30 we met up at again at 20.30 for a short walk to the Place de Paris and the number 6 bus to Cents. Alighting at Pulvermuhl you find

Beim Zeutzius (Rue de Treves, 71) a traditional Luxembourg inn still selling what the Cantine did not- Mousel Gezwickelt (unfiltered). Served in 50 centilitres earthenware steins, it is well worth seeking out. In addition to the beer and traditional fare the Zeutzuis also had some interesting schnaps from Othan Schmit Hellange- Dropp Pommes, Quetsch and Poire Williams. They were all nice but the Pear William was undoubtedly the best. The barman was excellent and readily arranged a taxi for Mick, Ron and Kev, who had had enough.

The remaining five walked back down the Rue de Treves into Grund, with Paul C giving an excellent demonstration dive (8.5), unfortunately onto gravel. Here John and Paul C called it a day and took a taxi back to the hotel. Then there were three. Into Liquid and to celebrate Ray’s birthday, Paul V and Tel had a *bleep*tail. Then there was one. Ray enjoyed his birthday drink with some of the locals.

Sunday

After a leisurely breakfast we caught the 11.24 to Brussels. We arrived at our hotel

Ustel (Square de l’Aviation 6-8), a short distance from midi station, before checking in time (15.00). After securing our bags in the hotel we adjourned round the corner to

Au Laboureur (Boulevard Jamar 1a) and enjoyed some excellent omelettes along with the Corsendonk Blonde (7.5%) and draught Rodenbach (5%).

Kev was keen to see the live game on Sky (Chelsea v Liverpool) and we arranged to meet up at O’Reilly’s (by Bourse metro) to watch the game and plan the evening’s bar visits. Disaster - Ray had left the list of Brussels bars in the hotel in Luxembourg! Further disappointment followed when the barman told us the one bar we did remember, Loplop, had closed a few weeks previously. Still, we were cheered by the antics of an American couple who kept disappearing into the toilets together and Kev was happy as Chelsea won.

Heading towards the old quarter we came across a small passageway, and at the end

L’Imaige de Nostre Dame (Rue Marche aux Herbes 6), a typical old Brussels café, with Affligen Blonde (7%) on draught.

Then two pieces of luck, we found the Delirium Café (Impasse de la Fidelite, 4a), and in there met Stephen D’Arcy, organiser of Brussels CAMRA. Steve put us onto a few other bars but first we had to sample a few of the 2000 beers and 500 Genevers on offer. We limited our choice to the eight draughts trying Blanche des Neiges (5%) and Delirium Tremens (8.5%).

Following Steve’s advice we then headed for one of the most famous Brussels bars

A la Mort Subite (Rue Montage aux Herbes Potageres, 7). An excellent bar which lived up to its high reputation, and between us all we managed to try all the draught beers on offer- Mort Subite Kriek, Peche, Faro, Cassis, Blanche and Geuze sur Lie and Grimbergan Blonde.

Leaving our Russian waitress, Aline, at the Sudden Death we headed for the puppet Theatre

Tonne (Petite rue des Bouchers, 21), which, not only had Kwak on draught but also served it in the distinctive cradle glass. Here we met Bent, a member of a Danish delegation of tax arbitrators, who took an instant shine to Mike - apparently something to do with Bent’s daughter but we were never sure what. Mind you, the standard of the toilets in Tonne had dumped.

Finally we made our way through the Grote Market to the Manneken Pis and

Poechenellekelder (Rue du Chene, 5), filled with dummies (not just us). We tried the draught Lindemans Kriek (4.5) and a few Genevers before heading back to the hotel and a dubious Turkish late night eatery on the way.

Monday

A quite journey home was preceded by our best breakfast on the continent - bacon and scrambled eggs as well as the normal bread and cheese.

Created on 01/22/2006 04:35 PM by drinking
Updated on 01/22/2006 04:40 PM by drinking
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