Bruges, Belgium is a beautiful city. You can glide along its canal admiring the medieval buildings that line the cobblestoned streets. The central market square is surrounded by fanciful guild halls that are towered above by a 13th century belfry where a carillon is still manually played several days a week. Within walking distance from there are windmills that add even more charm. On our first visit there 16 years ago we were won over by the city’s history, architecture, and its beer, especially a fine brew called Brugge Tripel.
We made a side trip to this western Belgium port with travel buddies Kate and Paula on a vacation to France where we had earlier also been with Jane & Cathy. After a full day of sightseeing, including a peaceful canal cruise, the 4 of us were ready for a relaxing dinner and we happened upon a restaurant that offered not only warming comfort food on a chilly evening but locally made beer including Brugge Tripel. The server warned us that the name derived from the high alcohol content (8.7%) but failed to mention that we would so enjoy it that we’d go back to the US and search unsuccessfully for years to find it again. Jane & Cathy had heard us rave about this brew so often, that they kindly indulged us by having a pint with us when we discovered it on tap at a restaurant in Edam, Netherlands where the 4 of us were having lunch a couple of years ago.
Last week we were walking by a wine and beer store here in Carcassonne when Bill had the urge to go inside. He apparently was being called by the “spirits” since shortly after entering the small shop we both focused on the display of Brugge Tripel that stood like a beacon among the other beers. We fought the urge to buy a case but since we were on foot, it was easy to convince ourselves that just 4 bottles would be enough since we could return to the store when we feel like it. Besides, the price we paid for each 33 cl. (about 11 oz.) bottle was a euro more than we pay for 75 cl. of good local wine.
I suppose that I shouldn’t be shocked to find the beer available here. After all we no longer live 4500 miles away plus France and Belgium do share a border. I just looked at the brewing company’s website where they say that their founder started the business around 1450 which is a couple hundred years after Carcassonne’s “new” town got going. The label on the bottle shows “Anno 1369”. I’d say that they’ve had the time to perfect their product, much to our pleasure.