De Garre – Bruges

To 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 approximately 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..


A really Happy Beerday!

Today April 7th 2011 is America’s National Beer Day, by coincidence it is also my Birthday too, (I’m about 29 if anyone is asking..).

By even more of a coincidence my good lady wife Rach, has uncannily based my birthday present selection around a beery theme!

So just when you thought you were seeing light at the end of the tunnel as I had reached beer number 42 in the 100 Belgian Beer Challenge:

To aid me in my newly expanded search, she also signed me up to MyBreweryTap‘s 52 Week Beer Club which is basically a box of 13 different and diverse beers delivered each quarter, taken from some of the UK’s fine breweries.

“We’ll ensure a truly diverse mixture of the best of our breweries ales, be they hoppy west country summer ales, more-ish best bitters from Yorkshire, dark and delicious porters from London, you’ll be guaranteed 13 bottles a quarter of diverse and interesting micro brewery ale which you simply wouldn’t be able to collect together anywhere else.”

It’s gets better, this quarters selection from MyBreweryTap‘s USA 52 Week Beer Club was in the next box.

“There’ll be Pale Ales, Porters, IPA’s, Double IPA’s, Imperial Stouts, special Seasonal beers and even collaborative beers between different breweries. We will endeavour to source classic and unusual US beers in a wide range of styles.

Contrary to most peoples opinions of American beer, the US has arguably the most vibrant and interesting craft brewery scene in the world. Craft brewers unhindered by traditional styles and flavours have since the late 70’s been re-inventing and re-defining styles of beer with amazing results. Our mission is to bring you an interesting mix of the best of their output.”

I couldn’t agree more with the last statement, in the last few weeks I’ve sampled some absolutely fabulous beers from the USA Craft Brewers and I can’t wait to get stuck into this little lot…

Finally, to top it off, two tickets to The Great British Beer Festival in August…

Truly a Happy ,Beery, Birthday  🙂