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..

I am NOT obsessed with beer!?!

I had an accusation levelled at me over the weekend, saying that everything I’ve posted on Facebook, Twitter etc recently has involved the word BEER and that I was obsessed, this understandably left a bit of a bitter taste..

What nonsense I thought, ridiculous in fact and although normally I’m a mild mannered man, thought I’d better hop to it and prepare to stoutly defend myself from such accusations at the dubbel.. To prove my point I’m going to have a Bass at explaining why I’m not obsessed, without mentioning the “b” word at all, it’s gonna be Hardknott to, but ale try my best.

It is true that I like a lovely brewed beverage or two, it’s tasty, relaxing and much safer than taking pils. The more I drink though, the more I learn and I only seek to pass on that knowledge, wort and all, by sharing it with the mashes. This inevitably leads to tuns of posts, status updates and tweets..

Not to labour the pint, each time I write a blog post it is published on Facebook, Twitter and email automatically, so instead of seeing one, you can see up to Tripel the amounts of mentions of the unmentionable. Therefore if I’ve quaffed an ale and am itchen to share it with you, it seems Scilly not to tell you all it Wentwell whilst I’m Fuller information straight after the Session.

So there you have it, a full and comprehensive explanation of the facts without a single mention of ” “. Conclusive evidence, displaying no obsessive behaviours whatsoever, in fact as you can see I’m completely Fyne.

Indian Ink – Bristol Beer Factory 6.5%

I stumbled upon this beer by accident really after reading a post on Zac Avery‘s website “Are You Tasting The Pith“.

Zac’s review of BBFs “New World Tripel” sounded wonderful, so I paid a visit to the Bristol Beer Factory’s online shop, saw that they offer a mixed case that included the New World Tripel at a very reasonable price and placed an order.

I have to admit to being a little disappointed as the main beer that had driven me to order was not in the case when it arrived, in fact I very nearly got on the blower to complain. Then I noticed that there were a few intriguing bottles in the box as replacement and thought ah well, what the hell, in for a penny…

One beer in particular caught my eye, a big old Black IPA (which I love anyway) called Indian Ink. Interestingly it was brewed as the winning entry of a home brewing competition run or at least sponsored by BBF, won by a brewer called Ali Kocho-Williams. The prize was to go to the brewery, brew the beer to the winning recipe which would then be served in the local pubs and bottled for distribution. Oh and Ali won 9 gallons to drink too!! 😉

The recipe it seems, is based on Kernel Brewery’s own Black IPA, you can read it here.

It’s a good beer, quite strong at 6.5% abv but is extremely refreshing and deceptively drinkable disguising the alcohol extremely well.

Not much on the nose, mainly a peppery hop spice. Flavours though are of intense liquorice espresso, high cocoa content bitter dark chocolate. There’s orange pith and citrus flesh too, finishing long, dry and very peppery.

How does it compare to the original Kernel version is hard to tell without tasting side by side. From memory I recall the Kernel having much more in the way of fruity aroma and flavour, but there’s no shame in that as Indian Ink is it’s own beer and works really well. Would I buy another, most definitely.

Nice one Ali

Follow Ali in Twitter here: @alikocho