Staminee De Gone…?

We visited the delightful city of Bruges last week for a two night, pre Borefts warm up (Borefts report to come soon). As you’d expect we took time out to visit some of our old favourite bars and a couple of new ones too.

One of those bars was the wonderful Staminee De Garre.

We’d tried a few months back in July but found locked doors due to holiday. No such horror this time, we slipped down that dark cobbled alley, stepped into a packed house and found a scarce empty table upstairs. Before too long the barman appeared and we ordered two house triples, the creamy thick-headed speciality which draws in the crowds and one which gave us so much pleasure the last time we’d visited.

After a short time the same chap danced up those old stairs which must have graced a million footsteps once again, balancing a tray with two beers and the usual bowl of cheese. He sheepishly placed the two glasses, Gulden Draak glasses, on the table and explained that they had almost none of the De Garre items left and hoped we understood. Only then, as I looked around the room did I notice that almost every other table too had the same Gulden Draak glassware, a sad sight in this lovely Bruges gem.

The less glass pedantic of you reading this may say “so what”, but in here of all places, with this beer it’s a really important part of the experience. The house triple itself is pleasant enough, no award winner, but watching that goldfish bowl of foam recede and the golden liquid rise makes it what it is, for me at least.

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As we left the barman (without any prompting or complaint from us) again apologised, so I took my chance to ask him why, as apart from the disappointment I was on a mission to buy one for a friend. He said “at the start of the season we had four hundred glasses, today we have thirteen, mainly due to theft, some sales and breakages”.

Thirteen from four hundred glasses…

So why am I writing this seemingly small negative point up out of a great few days of beer in Bruges?

Well, because glassware is important to me and it should be to you. When you get a beer served in the correct, or at least a glass specially designed to match the contents, cherish it. Embrace the added enjoyment that the fine, caring detail a bar manager has taken to enhance your drinking experience, remember that place and go back, hopeful it will still be there…

Cheers

Belgium revisited

belgian_flagAs anyone following me on twitter or here on Beersay will know, I visit Belgium pretty regularly and as such I often get asked for suggestions and advice on where to visit and stay etc.

Not that I am the font of all knowledge on the subject of course, as most of the information I have is gleaned from experience myself, after taking suggestions from friends, books etc.

I made such a visit a few weeks ago, making two-day stops at Gent and Antwerp both of which were new to me, plus Bruges which is a place I’ve revisited three times to date. Before my trip I set about gathering suggestions as usual for the virgin territory and for anything new on the old ground and thought it may be a good idea to start a bit of a reference section with a links page and hopefully a map for each city I’ve visited and created reviews for.

P1020647This then is basically a bit of a precursor for the above. Over the next few days/weeks/months, I’ll be posting a series of mini/full reviews of places to drink and places to stay, followed by the final reference page for each city or area which can then be added to by me, or as guest review slots. (If you have any you’d like me to include drop me a note in comments or via twitter etc)

Hopefully something useful and more importantly useable will be the end result.

Watch this space

Cheers

 

De Garre – Bruges

Although it’s a couple of years old now, for some reason this post seems to be getting lots of hits at the moment, probably as folk plan Belgian beer expeditions. I like it as it brings back lots of fond memories, so I thought I’d post it again. Sorry for the self-indulgence if you’ve read it before…

P1010907To find this place you either stumble across it, or have to purposely search for it, for us thanks to the “Around Bruges in 80 Beers” guide-book and the map reading skills of “pathfinder Rachie” (the wife), it was the latter.

Although centrally located on the main tourist trail and only 100 yards from the main Bruges Markt square, De Garre remains discretely hidden from the less discerning beer tourist, tucked away down a tiny cobbled alley (De Garre) off Breidelstraat. Clientele ranged from the obviously regular local folk each having what seemed to be their own favourite chair, to beer enthusiasts and folk that were very probably lost…

The main room itself is quite small in cafe/bar terms, probably 18 feet by 18, with a small apertured high bar facing you as you venture up the ancient worn stone steps, a tiny winding staircase aside the bar leading to the upper drinking gallery.
Once inside the feeling is like stepping back in time. Being a fan of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, it reminded me of the scene in The Prancing Pony where the hobbits first met Strider, huge gnarled oak beams, stone floor, simple wooden tables clustered together all baring glasses of foaming ales.

Dating back to the 1700’s, De Garre is one of those places where the gentle atmosphere and ambience has your mind wondering how many people have sat here before you. What joys, tragedies, laughter, crimes or drunken buffoonery have these tine four walls witnessed in their lifetime?

Garre Tripel – 11%


Although they have a reasonable beer menu at De Garre, I was only after one in particular at the recommendation of Mark, co author of “real ale reviews” blog. This was the leg weakening De Garre house “Garre Tripel”, I was not alone as almost every table had at least one.

The Tripel arrived in two large goldfish bowl like glasses, with the thick white creamy head massively outweighing the liquid content by about three parts to one, there being only about three-quarters of an inch of beer sitting at the base. Either by sensing our unconscious looks of disappointment or by the daily experiences of newcomers to his bar, the barman softly whispered “wait, it will come”.

Each tray of beer is served with a small portion of chopped cheese, which I’m led to believe is a compatible match for most Belgian beer, it was soft, creamy and when finally, patience rewarded we got to taste the Garre Tripel went perfectly with the beer

The beer itself has aromas of yeast and biscuits with slightly grassy hoppy notes. Once through that thick long lingering head, the first thing that hits you is the smooth malty flavour that disguises the alcoholic strength better than some half the same ABV. Garre is quite sweet for a Tripel which I suspect is due to the heavy alcohol, it has a smooth full-bodied creaminess in the mouth which perfectly compliments the peach and light citrus flavours. The finish is easy-going with evidence of hop bitterness but lightly so.

Garre Tripel is only available on the premises so you really need to make an effort and find it if ever you visit Bruges, all in all a fantastic experience and one we repeated whilst in the city. The beer can be purchased in 1.5 litre bottles to take away but we refrained from buying one preferring to keep the memory of the visit alive.

A final word of warning, at De Garre I’m told they will only ever serve you three house Tripel beers in one sitting, I didn’t test the theory but probably suggest that it’s a wise move..