Top 10 Belgian Trappist and Abbey Beers

De Ranke Brewery

We are shameless fans of lists – especially beer lists. They give us something to argue about. For those lucky folks experiencing Trappist beers for the first time, this gives you a starting point. Here is our list of the top 10 Trappist beers. Some are widely available, others are very hard to get. We are not professional tasters--our methodology is simple: Pure, biased, hedonistic opinion ... Read Full Article

The Heavenly Brews of Belgium’s Trappist Monasteries

A glass of refreshing Westvleteren blond

Every year hundreds of thousands of Belgian and European beer lovers from neighboring countries like Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Luxembourg travel for hours to the St. Sixtus Monastery in the tiny Belgian town of Westvleteren in West Flanders. They’re not coming for religious reasons though—they visit to collect two crates of the finest (Trappist) beer in the world, also called ... Read Full Article

Belgium’s Top Ten Beer Festivals

Kerstbierfestival, Essen - Photo courtesy William Roelens

France has wine shows. Germany has its Oktoberfest. Belgium has beer festivals. Mention that you've frequented Belgian beer fests to a fellow enthusiast and you may get some envy or respect--for good reason. These events typically appeal to the aficionado rather than the casual beer drinker. Every year, thousands of Belgian and foreign beer hounds travel to towns big and small across the ... Read Full Article

Belgium Tourist Information

In Antwerp, Statue of the giant's hand being thrown into the Scheldt River.

Belgium is one of the smaller countries in continental Europe and the “middle child” of three countries comprising “Benelux” (the others being the Netherlands and Luxembourg). It is an often-overlooked country but many consider it a European gem. Its capital, Brussels, is nicknamed the capital of Europe as it is home to the European Union headquarters. In Brussels one can find a unique blend of ... Read Full Article

One Day in Brussels

Guild houses in the Grand Place

  The “wow” factor is high as you walk through the narrow uneven cobblestone alleys to suddenly emerge on the large square at the Grand Place. It’s the number one sight in Brussels, and one of the finest medieval squares in Europe. The tall Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque facades of the elaborately crafted guild houses tower above you on all four sides of the square. Rebuilt in the 1690’s ... Read Full Article

Villers-la-Ville Abbey: Belgium’s Most Beautiful and Haunting Monastery Ruins

Herbal garden at Villers-Ville Monastery, Belgium

  With her atmospheric medieval squares and castles, and magnificent renaissance palaces, Belgium is Western Europe’s most underrated tourist destination. Foremost amongst Belgium’s extraordinary historic sites are forty-one ancient weathered gray stone and red brick abbeys. Today, many of these monasteries lie sadly in ruins, derelict victims of revolution, war and other turbulent ... Read Full Article

The Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium: A Perfectly Preserved Town Square

Maison des ducs de Brabant

  Europe has many elaborately crafted medieval town squares, but none is as ornate or theatrical as the Grand Place in Brussels. The stunning 17th century neo-classical Flemish façades of the superbly restored guild houses on this cobble stone square tell about its days of glory when Brussels was one of Europe’s main centers of industry. After walking through dark, narrow ... Read Full Article

Rediscovering Antwerp, Belgium

The guild houses in Antwerp's market square

The last time I left Antwerp, in 2007, we parted on bad terms. I was headed south by train from Holland and wanted to spend one night in the city I remembered fondly from my studies abroad, when a whole slew of friends and I would pack into a car and drive down on Friday nights for some of the city's famous house music and stay until well after sunrise. At around 6 p.m., I checked into the ... Read Full Article

Old-School Brewing in Brussels

Samples of the faro, left, and the framboise beers

  There is an inherent irony today when we talk about Belgian beer. For most people, the term "Belgian beer" connotes monks brewing strong ales with difficult names and an alcohol content that can knock you off your bar stool if you are not prepared. Think of Chimay, Leffe or even Hoegaarden — the latter making up for its secularity and average strength with a name that confounds almost ... Read Full Article

Exploring the Markets of Brussels

Marolles Market by John and Melanie Kotsopoulos

  My first experience with the markets of Brussels was on a drizzly Saturday, as many of them tend to be, at the Clemenceau market. A friend and I stepped out of the metro station and into a gauntlet of women who would flash iPhones to anyone who looked like a potential buyer. "Watch your wallet, by the way," my friend warned. Throngs of shoppers were streaming into the ... Read Full Article