Belgium is to beer what France is to wine, it is home to one of the greatest beer traditions in the world, and Brussels is a great place to sample some of the vast variety on offer. Typical beers of Brussels are gueuze (rather sour) and kriek (rather sweet, cherry based).
Smoking is prohibited in all bars.
A special drink only found in Brussels is the "half-en-half" ("half and half"). It's a mixture of white wine and champagne.
"Brasserie De l'Union", 55 Parvis De Saint-Gilles - Sint-Gillisvoorplein. This is a place with a true "atmosphere", wooden chairs and tables, big old wooden bar, a crowd that reflects the diversity of Saint-Gilles. Everybody is welcome and come as you are. This is a bar that just oozes human warmth and a comfortable ambiance. When the sunny days are coming, the terrace is one of the best in Saint-Gilles.
À La Bécasse, Rue de Taborastraat 11, +32 (0)2 511 0006. Serves a typical Brussels product this slightly sweetened Lambic beer, white beer based on Lambic, Kriek Lambic and so on. The entrance is not that easy to find.
La Mort SubiteRue Montagne-aux-Herbes Potagres-Bergstraat 7. This is the Brussels cafe par excellence. Opened since 1927, the decor remains unchanged but still retains its charm. A warm welcome greets the eclectic clientile of which La Mort remains a firm favorite. Bier Circus57, Rue de l'Enseignement-Onderrichtsstraat, +32 (0)2 218 0034. Has an impressive selection of beers, including some extremely hard to find beers. Examples of rare beers they have in stock, are Lam Gods (a delicious beer brewed from figs) and the rarest of the Trappist beers, winner of the Beer of the Year 2005, Westvleteren. Also offers meals with beer as an ingredient. Open Tuesday to Friday, 1200-1430 & 1800-2300; Saturday 1800-2300.
BXL Cafe/Bar, Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés-Oud Korenhuis 46, +32 (0)2 502 9980. Open daily noon-midnight (Fri/Sat until 1AM). A stylish, friendly internet cafe in the center of Brussels. Offering high speed internet access, occasional live music/DJ, latest movies shown on video screens around the bar, regular art exhibitions. Gay friendly space with women's night every Wednesday from 8PM.
The Floris, Right across from Delirium Cafe, famous for its absinthe.
Bizon CafeRue Pont de la Carpe-Karperbrugstraat 7. A relaxed blues/rock bar in St Gery area. Excellent place for a beer or five. The MonkSt Katelijnestraat-Rue St. Catherine 42. A large proper brown bar with walls covered in dark wood and mirrors. Lots of young people from the neighborhood, cool music and a decent Malt whiskey selection.
Delirium Cafe, Impasse de la Fidelité-Getrouwheidsgang 4A (on a pedestrian only sidestreet), +32 (0)2 514 4434, . Right in the centre of Brussels within five minutes walk of the Grand Place. This bar is all about the beer, offering 2004 different beers from all over the world. They even hold the Guinness world record for most beers available! Popular among foreigners. Check if they have your own local beer. View their website for more info. There are some smoke-free areas. Also next door are three different alcohol themed bars specialising rum, tequila, and absinthe.
Chez Moeder Lambiek, Rue Savoiestraat 68 (behind Saint Gilles-Sint-Gillis city hall). Has a huge list of different beers, with several hundred obscure beers not likely found anywhere else. This cafe is one of the last remaining old-fashioned brown cafes in Brussels.
Le Greenwich, Rue des Chartreux-Kartuizerstraat 7, +32 (0)2 511 4167. Another wood-panelled brown cafe where the only sound is the sound of the chess pieces on the chess board. Shh!
Brasserie Verschueren, Parvis de St-Gilles-Sint-Gillisvoorplein 11-13, 02/539 40 68. Something of an institution in hip Saint-Gilles. Under the watchful eye of the portly, bearded deep-voiced owner, hipsters, starving artists and local poodle-brandishing ladies mingle and drink endless beers and coffees. A beautiful woodwork football tableau shows the scores of some long lost second and third division teams from yesteryear.
Cirio, Rue de la Bourse-Beursstraat 18 (near the Bourse). A traditional café where time has come to a stop. Also offers some simple meals. Don't forget to visit the bathroom, with the original tiles and porcelain.
Le Corbeau, Sint-Michielsstraat 18 (North of Debrouckere, near City2 and Inno) +32 (0)2 219 5246. A bar with a strong selection of beer, Edgar Allen Poe themed, hence the name (The Raven). Known for the clientele who dance on the tables all around the bar. Reasonably priced, well trafficked.
Bars and clubs
De Walvis is one of the very few hip and non-smoking bars in Brussels. Dansaert street.
Crystal LoungeThis prestige location, nestling in the heart of the Louise district in Brussels, offers a new style of Lounge Bar Restaurant entirely dedicated to the well-being of its guests. The service, the musical atmosphere and the lighting everything has been carefully thought out to offer a unique experience depending on the time of day: if the client chooses a table at midday, he will discover a totally different Crystal Lounge from the one he would find sitting at the bar in the evening, or in a salon in the middle of the afternoon.
Mappa Mundo, Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein 2, +32 (0)2 514 3555. One of the many trendy bar/cafés located on the popular Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein. You are assured good drinking in at least one of these establishments, which are very popular with younger Eurocrats, foreigners and interns, giving them a rather friendly cosmopolitan character.
Le Tavernier445 Chausse de Boondael-Boondaalsesteenweg, While all the above locations are situated downtown in central Brussels, this location is the most popular bar on a strip of bars right by the Cimtire d'Ixelles-Begraafplaats van Elsene. It's location right off the student campus make it extremely popular with students who just want to kick back and have a few relaxed drinks. Note on certain nights there is also live music (making the establishment a lot more hectic). Worth a look especially towards the beginning and end of the academic year and in the summer (especially for their Jazzbreaks nights).
Hydra-breaks organises "Hydra Sessions" and also "Next Level" and "Caliente" drum and bass parties at various locations. Hydra Sessions are major D&B nights with international headliners such as Pendulum, Spor, or Raiden, along national djs.
Bulex nights is a monthly night out for many locals since more than 10 years, blending all kind of music in unexpected venues. Come as you are.
The Fuse Rue Blaesstraat 208 is a nightclub where it all started and is a Brussels institution. Be sure to check it out. Popular among the young people for it´s Electronic scene, often having Dubstep and Drum & Bass nights, such as Rockme On Electro, Cartel, F*ckin Beat or other parties. (Watch out for these other parties in nights spread out in other smaller clubs in Brussels).
The Botanique is the place for rock and pop. They do, on occasion, bring more experimental acts.
The Botanique's Flemish counterpart, the Ancienne Belgique features the same mix of rock and pop with the occasional excursion into more unchartered, experimental territory.
Recyclart - For electronica, noise-rock, electroclash, minimal techno as well as art exhibitions, social projects and installations.
Le You - For young clubbers who just want to party, 2 minutes walking due South-East from the Grande Place.
Gays and Lesbians: the two biggest monthly gay clubs remain at La Demence at the Fuse. 100% House & Trance. Don't miss the crowded (but super small) Le Belgica bar, which plays house music. There are quite a lot of gay bars easily recognisable by their flag around the Grand Place area, especially on the street Marché Au Charbon/ Kolenmarkt.